Most people think that you can’t possibly eat Indian food, if you’re on a slimming diet. That’s a fair statement if you always eat Indian food in restaurants, because many traditional Indian recipes involve either deep frying or the use of ghee (clarified butter). However, if you cook Indian food at home, it can easily form part of a weight loss regime, just the same as any other food. You just need to follow a few simple general rules.

– Avoid altogether recipes which involve deep frying.

– If you need to seal meat before braising it for a curry, use a good non-stick pan and a spray bottle with sunflower or vegetable oil in it. Lightly spray the surface of your pan with oil and that should be enough to prevent the meat from sticking while you brown it.

– If a recipe includes cream or coconut cream, substitute plain yoghurt and another flavouring to replace the coconut.

Tandoori recipes are great as part of a low calorie or low carbohydrate diet. Just marinade some fish (cubed or whole), chicken (cubed or in pieces) or prawns (shrimp) in a mixture of low fat plain yogurt, ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, crushed garlic, grated root ginger and a little chilli powder (or to taste) for at least an hour. If you’re using cubed meat, thread onto skewers. Grill or barbeque with a medium heat until done. Serve with mixed salad and wedges of lemon to squeeze over. If your diet isn’t too severe, you can also have a pitta bread, a baked potato or some boiled rice with this.

Curry dishes are fine too (preferably fish or chicken). If you use a recipe which has just a spice and water base or a tomato base, it certainly won’t do your calorie intake any harm but be sure to keep the oil you use for frying onions, spices or whatever, to an absolute minimum.

For vegetarians or those trying to cut down on meat because of its relatively high calorie content, Indian cooking is ideal. There are so many recipes for vegetables and pulses which are really tasty that you won’t even know you’re on a diet!

Don’t forget paneer (Indian cottage cheese), which can be cooked as per the tandoori idea above, or in a spicy sauce. If you can’t get paneer, try substituting tofu.

Here’s to a slim new year!

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