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Your flavour toolbox for South Asian cooking

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Try these tips to make your favourite foods healthier, without losing the great flavours of your traditional meals.

  • Roast and toast spices – cumin (jeera), cardamom seeds (elaichi), cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and onion seeds (kalonji) still release their flavour and aroma when toasted without oil.
  • Marinate chicken, fish, lamb, beef and mutton in chopped chillies, ginger, garlic and lemon juice and then simply grill or roast in the oven. Add yogurt, paprika and tomato purée if you like it tandoori or tikka style.
  • Making samosas? Try filo pastry instead. Use two or three sheets per samosa and spread milk or beaten egg between the sheets to stop them going dry. Then bake your samosas instead of frying them. Just brush with a little oil beforehand.
  • Grill masala fish. Use your usual spices and add a drizzle of olive, sunflower or rapeseed oil or a few sprays of spray oil. While that’s grilling, you could dry roast your spices for the masala.
  • Grill or toast poppadoms on a tawa.
  • Chutneys and pickles can be made with lemon juice and fruits to help you cut down on oil and sugar. Fresh kachumber made from onions, green chillies, cucumber, tomato and lemon juice or vinegar adds a refreshing touch to rice dishes.
  • Do you need to add jaggery (gur) to savoury dishes? If you really must, just add a small chunk.
  • Use low-fat Greek yogurt in korma, instead of cream or coconut milk. Stir it in at the end of cooking and take care not to boil to prevent it separating. The yogurt adds flavour and a creamy texture.
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