The weight loss blog

Spice up your life: healthy cooking the Indian way

December 4 2018
Grace Kelly
By Grace Kelly

From curries and fragrant rice dishes to grilled meats and stewed veggies packed with flavor, Indian cuisine is vast and varied. And many of the staple ingredients—like beans, rice, lean meat, and spices—are Free Foods on Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, called Food Optimizing. This means you can eat them freely to satisfy your appetite—no weighing, counting, or measuring required.

Spice up your life: healthy cooking the Indian way

Here are three essential Free Food ingredients to add to your Indian-inspired pantry, along with ways to use them while staying on plan.

Garam masala
Move over curry powder—Indian food has so many other spices worth a shake! One must-have is garam masala, a blend of ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg that loosely translates as “hot spice”. Names can be deceiving, though—while garam masala has plenty of flavor, it’s not spicy in the heat-factor sense. And you can purchase it pre-mixed, which makes it even easier to use. Try it as a rub for lean meat and seafood, stir it into plain fat-free Greek yogurt (more on that below) for a zingy dressing or marinade, toss it with roasted veggies, add it to steamed rice, or mix it into a rustic, slimming-friendly veggie soup for a fragrant twist.

Beans and legumes
Lentils, chickpeas, and beans are all-stars in Indian cooking. They’re cheap, filling, and versatile: Stew canned chickpeas with tomatoes (no oil or sugar added), garam masala, and spinach, then serve over steamed rice with a drizzle of fat-free plain yogurt (also a Free Food at Slimming World) for a quick and satisfying meal. Or cook dried red lentils with chopped onion, curry powder, garlic, and reduced-sodium stock for a Food Optimizing riff on traditional dal.

Yogurt is key in Indian cuisine, providing a cooling lick to temper spice and heat. Dollop plain fat-free yogurt over any spiced dish or use it to make a marinade—it’s great for tenderizing meat. To accompany hot dishes, whip up an easy Indian sauce called a raita: mix plain fat-free yogurt with chopped cucumber and cilantro or mint, ground cumin, and black pepper. It’s great served with grilled skinless chicken, lean lamb, or a spicy Slimming World curry.