How to eat healthy at a South Indian restaurant
A Punjabi girl, born and brought up in Chennai is here to tell you about eating healthy at a South Indian restaurant. Yes, having lived in the South all my life has made me love most of the South Indian dishes and the dosa tops the list!
When you step into a South Indian restaurant, the aroma of sambar and dosas are bound to tickle your appetite. Let me help you a bit if you are a newbie at South Indian cuisine.
There is a lot of difference between homemade and restaurant food. I can eat three homemade dosas but cannot eat more than one in the restaurant. It is because of the oil they add to the dosas, that is why they are all brown and crispy. Apart from dosas they have uthapams that are thicker than dosas. It would be better if you go in for idlis as they are steamed. You can opt for Rava idlis too. Another option would be the idiyappam(rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed) and appam that have no or minimal oil. You might relish vadas and bondas (round fried balls similar to the vada) but you know that they are deep fried. So, you need to omit them from your list.
The famous steamed dish from Kerala is ‘puttu’ , these are steamed cylinders of ground rice with a layer of coconut. It is a good breakfast dish. It is served with jaggery/banana. Being steamed it is a good option if it is on the menu.
If you go in for the South Indian Thali (Tamilnadu) you can expect a well balanced meal of white rice, different sabjis, sambar, rasam, and other curries. It will be a gastronomical treat no doubt. You will offered an appalam along which is like a fried papad. You can give this a miss as just like papads it is high in salt. The thali has pickle, curd and other add-ons to make it more enticing.
For non-veg lovers there is always fish fry but you should go in for fish curry instead as it is not fried. The non veg thali of South India has lots of sea food options like crabs, prawns apart from fish. You can find chicken, mutton too on the menu card. It is always better to opt for the curry than the fried version. When something in the menu says ‘Kuzhumbu’(pronounced as ko-rum-bu) it is a curry. You can order anyone of the non-veg ‘Kuzhumbu’ with plain white rice also if you want to give the entire thali a miss.
If you want to eat veg and the South Indian thali is not what you want, you can go in for a plate of variety rice. It can be lemon rice, curd rice, tamarind rice or coconut rice. These are all rice dishes with different ingredients added.
The traditional South Indian beverage is a light version of namkeen lassi or chaach. It is called ‘mor’. Mor is seasoned with curry leaves, mustard seeds and green chilli. You must go in for it as it is refreshing and low in calories too.
There is a traditional sweet dish called ‘payasam’. It is similar to the North Indian kheer but a lighter version. Owing to the loads of sugar in it, you may skip it if you are on low carb diet otherwise you can enjoy its tasty and light flavour. There is also something similar to the sooji ka halwa called ‘kesari’ and it is mostly dripping in ghee. Have a fresh fruit salad without the ice-cream instead.
Restaurants have limited to offer, there is a plethora of healthy food in South India.
What’s your favourite South Indian dish ?
P.S – These recommendations are not meant for low carb dieters
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