Your Guide to Eating Healthy at an Indian Restaurant

Posted on: 26 February 2016

Friday night at your local Indian restaurant sounds like a winning start to the weekend. But all of those rich flavours and the curries swimming in ghee aren't exactly what you want to eat if you are watching your waistline or your cholesterol. But honestly, if you educate yourself a little about the breadth of Indian food (which extends way beyond chicken tikka masala, as delicious as it may be!), you will be able to order things from the menu, or modify your order, so that you can have a great time at your favourite Indian restaurant without feeling guilty about it afterwards. Just follow this sage advice.

Head straight to the Tandoori menu. Any decent Indian restaurant has its own tandoor. This is an extremely hot clay oven, and the dishes cooked inside it typically take minutes, even seconds to cook. Tandoori options tend to be skewered meat or fish, covered in delicious dry spices, that are then blasted in the hot temperature of the oven. Because of the nature of tandoori cooking, the food won't be swamped in any kind of greasy sauces, and the meat will be lean, making this a far healthier option. The only thing from the tandoor you want to steer clear of is naan bread, which will bloat you up and is typically smothered in ghee.

Skip past the starters. Indian food has many delicious nibbles, which can be found within the "starters" section of the menu, but many of these will be deep fried, so it's best to steer clear of this section altogether. Typical starters include onion bhajis, deep fried clusters of onion covered in spice chickpea flour; samosas, deep fried pastry pockets with meat and vegetable fillings; and puris, which are deep fried chapatis.

Look out for trigger menu items. You are forgiven for not knowing exactly what everything on an Indian menu is, so these are some of the trigger words you should be vigilant about. Paneer is a popular vegetarian ingredient, an Indian cheese that is highly fattening, and is often served in huge proportions in dishes like saag paneer (spice spinach and cheese). Ghee is the word for clarified butter, and again, it is very fattening. And malai is the word for cream, so if you see it on the menu you'll know there is fattening dairy added to the curry sauce.

And, by all means, do ask the waiters for their own healthy recommendations. You might just end up sampling a new favourite Indian dish. For more information, contact Royal India Restaurant or a similar location.