By Kristen Hung, MPH, RDN and Christina Nice, Dietetic Intern
The country of India is currently home to about one-sixth of the world’s
population. With thousands of ethnic groups and numerous languages, India
has an extremely diverse population. This diversity is reflected in the
variety and flavors of Indian cuisine.
Though diverse in preparation and taste, many Indian meals include a main
starch such as rice, sorghum, or wheat; vegetable or meat curries that
are dry roasted or wok fried; cured and dried vegetable dishes in sauces;
and thick lentil soups. Condiments include
masalas (dry or wet powders of fine ground spices and herbs), plain yogurt, or
raita (yogurt dip, also called
pachchadi in south India), salted pickles, fresh herb and cooked chutneys, dried
and fried wafers and salted
papadums (fried lentil crisps), and occasionally dessert.
Curries common to Indian cuisine can include a variety of healthy spices
such as cardamom, cloves, coriander, fenugreek, saffron, tamarind, and
turmeric. Many Indian spices have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and
antimicrobial effects. For example, turmeric contains a biologically active
compound called curcumin. Mounting evidence from preclinical studies shows
that curcumin may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective
effects. Research has also found coriander to inhibit microbial growth,
improve diabetes management, and enhance mood in humans. Using these types
of herbs and spices while cooking truly has the potential to improve your health!
Indian cuisine is also often “plant-based,” meaning the majority
of the food is made with plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables,
and fruit. Although many Indian foods can be fried, if lower fat cooking
methods are employed, Indian plant-based diets can be lower in calories
and more nutrient-dense than the average American diet. As a result, they
can support health and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such
as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. For many chronic
diseases, switching to a plant-based diet can greatly improve your health
status and increase your life expectancy.
Consider adding Indian curry, channa, chutney or dal to your culinary repertoire.
Indian dishes can be a great way to incorporate a vegetarian or meatless
meal that is satisfying and tasty. Enjoy the rich spices and flavors as
well as the health benefits Indian dishes have to offer!
Channa Masala (Savory Indian Chickpeas)
Makes 4 servings / 20 minutes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 can (28 fl oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 2 cans (19 fl oz/540 mL) chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Optional: Pinch of red pepper flakes
- In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté cumin.
- Add onion, ginger, curry powder and garam masala, and cook for 3 minutes
until onion becomes translucent and begins to brown.
- Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and lemon juice. Mix all ingredients well.
- Once covered, cook for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid, reduce heat to low and mix in the chopped cilantro. Cook over
low heat 1-2 minutes until the cilantro has wilted and turned bright green.
- Serve over basmati rice or with a side of naan. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts per serving: 1 ½ cup (total 4 servings) | Calories: 170 kcals | Carbohydrates:
25 g | Fiber: 6g | Protein: 7 g | Total Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fat: 0 g
| Sodium: 165 mg
Recipe Courtesy of Clinical Dietitian Kristen Hung, MPH, RDN
If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to
help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered
Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office
or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial
Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.