Dining Out on Healthy Indian Food

Want to spice things up when you dine out? Indian restaurants offer some terrific and tasty options for South Beach dieters. India is a large and diverse country — and the cuisine reflects its size and variety. Every region has its own style of cooking, from the vegetarian dishes of the South to the meat-centered cuisine of the North. Indian food relies upon such healthy cooking techniques as grilling and baking, and uses an abundance of wholesome ingredients. Dishes may feature chickpeas and lentils; vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, and eggplant; lean protein, including seafood, poultry, and meat, and a variety of spices. Follow these guidelines the next time you’re planning to head out for Indian cuisine.

What to Order
Choose tandoori-style dishes, in which seafood, poultry, meat, and/or vegetables are roasted at very high temperatures in a clay oven. Other good options include curries and masala-style dishes made with sautéed tomatoes and onions; vegetable salads; and sides of dal (a dish made with lentils or other kinds of beans); and raita (a yogurt-based sauce). Many restaurants serve meals with white or brown basmati rice, which is fine on Phase 2 (just limit yourself to a half-cup serving).

What to Drink
Tea is ubiquitous in India. The full-bodied flavors of teas such as Assam, Darjeeling, and Ceylon are the perfect accompaniment to an Indian meal. If you decide to order a lassi, a chilled yogurt drink, ask that it be made with low-fat milk or yogurt and without sugar.

What to Watch Out For…
Be sure to avoid all Indian breads, including puri (poori), a puffy, deep-fried flat bread, and even whole-wheat naan, to which sugar is often added. Deep-fried appetizers such as samosas (triangular fried pastries typicallly filled with vegetables) and pakoras (fritters) are also off-limits. And always steer clear of dishes cooked with cream, typically called malai or korma, and any that are prepared with butter or clarified butter (ghee). Fiery vindaloos should also be avoided because these stews, made with meat, poultry, or seafood, traditionally contain white potatoes.

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