Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Improve the Standard North Indian Diet

White Rice (should be Brown Basmati if available), Okra cooked in oil (should be sauteed without oil), Chapati (no ghee), Urad Dahl (no oil)
Above is a very typical meal served in the Northern part of India. This meal was served to my daughter at my inlaw's home, prepared by a servant cook. The Chapati is always made at home by hand using whole wheat flour and served at lunch and dinner.  Typically a dahl (bean soup) is always made along with a "subji" or cooked vegetable dish.  They normally prepare a 1/2 cup of oil cooked with spices and seeds that gets poured over the top of the entire pot of dahl.  I asked them to instead add the oil to their individual serving of dahl so that our family could have the dahl without oil.

Below are my suggestions on how Northern Indian food can be made healthy:
  • Oil and ghee are not necessary and are used in too great of quantities.  Meals can be cooked with minimal or no oil without sacrificing flavor.
  • Meals are oversalted. While in India I request that food is not salted until after our family has taken their serving.
  • Brown rice should be substituted for white rice at least two or three times a week.
  • Breakfast, not pictured here, is typically tea and a small bowl of beans served with white bread toasted.  My father-in-law would sometimes eat a banana before breakfast but the nutrition could be greatly improved if two to three pieces of fruit were consumed before the beans, and wheat bread substituted for the white.
  • Too much cooked food is consumed, making the Standard North Indian diet low in nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants.  In a country where pollution is abundant, more raw fruits and vegetables need to be consumed.
  • Salad is usually a small plate shared among everyone that features sliced cucumber, tomatoes, cabbage and carrots. Salad should be more than two or three small pieces of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes!  Invest money on a large salad twice a day and watch as health and energy improves...or spend money later at the doctor's office :)

"Shumshu's Orange Cabbage Salad"
 Salad greens are not found in India and it is unheard of for someone to eat a raw spinach salad.  So I created a salad plate based on an idea from my inlaw's cook servant who's name is Shumshu.  Shumshu doesn't speak any english, but since I understand 90% of the food words in Hindi I was able to create this tasty salad that is one of his favorites.  It is simply shreded cabbage, sliced cucumbers, orange slices and cilantro served freshly squeezed orange juice drizzled over the top.  I served this to my insulin dependent diabetic mother-in-law.  Now if I can just get her to remember to ask Shumshu to make this delicious salad for her twice a day!  She could also add seasonal fruit like pomegrant or apples.

No comments: