Summer is the time for hiking, biking and a myriad of other outdoor activities. It’s during summer that we realize that there are a lot more health conscious people in Salt Lake City than you would imagine. It’s a pleasant surprise that the culinary boom in the past few years has given birth to a number of healthy restaurants in Salt Lake City, including a number of ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Thai, Pan Asian etc. serving healthy menu items. Speaking of healthy did you know that Indian food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world?
What makes Indian food healthy, you might wonder! The use of spices in Indian cooking contributes to a ton of nutritional and health benefits besides adding depth and flavor to food. Spices contain an impressive list of nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for wellness.
For example, the spice turmeric has been touted for having antiseptic properties and more importantly anti-cancer properties, which may help in preventing and curing cancer.
Spices such as ginger, fennel, asafetida, and fenugreek have digestive properties that help keep many stomach problems at bay. Curry power, a blend of various spices is a powerful anti-inflammatory that’s 50 times more potent than vitamin C or E. Chilli powder helps increase your metabolism and burn extra calories and fat. And the list goes on…
With such a compelling case of health benefits of spices, one could not argue the importance of spices in a healthy diet. And Indian cooking uses an abundant amount of spices.
Besides the liberal use of spices, some of the methods of cooking Indian food make it a healthy cuisine. Tandoori cooking or grilling in a clay oven uses minimal fats and slow roasts meats and vegetables, retaining their nutrition and freshness. Needless to say anything cooked in the tandoor is moist, juice and flavorful. Here is a recipe to make classic Tandoori Chicken Tikka in your oven:
Grilled Tandoori Tikka (Chicken Kebabs)
6 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons Tandoori Masala (any brand) or make your own
1/2-cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
Place the chicken in a baking dish or large bowl.
Combine the oil, Tandoori Masala, salt, yogurt and lemon juice, ginger, garlic paste, chilli powder and mix to a smooth sauce. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Smear well over the chicken and coat evenly, rubbing the marinade into the slits. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place chicken in the preheated oven. Turn, baste as needed, and cook for 40 minutes. Let stand in the oven for 15 minutes before serving.
Garnish with lemon and onion wedges.
Indian food works well for various diets:
Extensive use of lentils and whole grains in Indian cooking also makes it very healthy and a tasty protein alternate for vegetarians. Dal, Channa Masala, Rajma Masala are classic lentil dishes. Here’s a quick and simple recipe for Channa Masala:
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped finely
½ onion, paste
3 teaspoons Punjabi Masala
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
1 medium can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 Serrano pepper, slit lengthwise
2 tbsps chopped cilantro
Pour oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add chopped onion and serrano pepper and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the onion paste and fry for another five minutes.
Add the Punjabi Masala. Stir until combined and cook for 30 seconds or so, or until fragrant.
Stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the chickpeas and the pour in the water. Stir until combined, and then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add salt and lemon juice. Cover and cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro.
Indian food works well with a number of special diets such as vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free etc. If you’re new to Indian food, don’t be afraid to try it. Use of spices and spice blends on everyday items reduces the need for excess salt and makes the food taste a lot more delicious and offers you nutritional benefits as well.
If you’re looking for a healthy place to eat in Salt Lake City, we invite you to come to Saffron Valley where we take utmost care to make healthy, fresh food from scratch every day of the week. The everyday Indian lunch buffet is a great way to try a variety of items from salads to soups, curries, rice, flat breads, desserts and more.
For the love of Indian, come let’s spice things up!
About Saffron Valley: Saffron Valley, with two locations in the Salt Lake Valley, is a top-rated Indian Restaurant offering a unique menu with classic restaurant, home-style, and authentic street foods of India from the North, South, East, and West.