An average Indian diet, irrespective of the cuisine, is based on the principles of balanced eating. Each cuisine, in every part of India, uses ingredients that are local staples, easily available and ideal for the climate of that area. Local meals are balanced and healthy. Whether it is the irresistible Chhole Kulche in North India or the evergreen Idli Sambar in South India, these dishes offer the right amount of nutrition and ample comfort with every bite.
Have you ever wondered what makes these dishes so alluring and easily accessible? Quintessential Indian dishes use locally available ingredients such as food grains, pulses, beans and spices. These simple ingredients blend together to create delicious food which are our everyday meals. Indian meals are a wholesome source of nutrition that fulfill our dietary requirements. They balance various macronutrients and micronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, etc.
When it comes to eating healthy and right, many of us tend to think of concepts such as salads, soups, etc. consisting ingredients that aren’t always easy to find. The fact is, in India, each regional cuisine is equipped to provide you a balanced and healthy meal without any complicated ingredients and recipes. Most of the food items are already present in our kitchens or easily available in local stores. All it takes is a bit of planning and consciousness about what we consume.
Let’s re-discover some healthy and nutritionally-sound sources of good health from the Indian kitchen.
Also known as the spilt Bengal gram, chana dal is widely used all over India. It is used in dals, curries, soups and many other dishes. Chana dal is also the base of besan flour which is used to make a variety of dishes. It is an excellent source of protein with every 100 g containing 20.83 g of protein. It is also rich in dietary fibre. Its low glycaemic index makes it a good option of diabetic individuals.
Whole and split masoor dals are a key ingredient in many dal dishes. Masoor dal is easier to cook and doesn’t require to be soaked before cooking. It used to make dishes such as dals, khichdi and soups. An innovative way to use masoor dal is to include it in salads. With approximately 24 grams of protein per 100gms, masoor dal can be a good source of protein in your diet. It also contains cholesterol-lowering fibre, potassium and antioxidants.
Available in many versions, moong dal is high on protein and low on calories. It is an essential dal, present in most Indian kitchen. Easy to digest, it is an integral part of the one-pot wonder dish from India, the khichdi. While the moong dal is used as a part of dals, soups and curry dishes, whole moong is sprouted and consumed in salads. Moong is available in three variants – whole, dal and split with chilka (husk) present.
This versatile dal is an integral part of South Indian dishes like dosa, idli, vada, etc. It is also used as an ingredient in Dal Makhani and Maa Ki Dal in North India. It contains dietary fibre which helps with digestion. Urad dal also contains high levels of protein, approximately 23gms per 100gms, making it a good source of protein for weight watchers, vegetarians and vegans. Urad is available as whole black seeds and spilt urad dal with or without the chilka.
When it comes to pulses, kabuli chana (chickpeas /garbanzo beans) is one of the most versatile options. Used in delicious Indian dishes such as Chhole and in irresistible international dishes such as hummus, Kabuli Chana has quickly become a must-have ingredient in every pantry. Each 100 gram of Kabuli Chana has 20.2gms of protein and 18.2 gms of fiber. Having a bowl of soaked kabuli chana in your fridge ensures that you can make a healthy meal suitable for any time of the day in a matter of minutes.
Another type of chana that is frequently found in the Indian kitchens is the black chana. Soaked overnight and boiled before consumption, black chana is the key ingredient in many healthy Indian dishes such as chana chaat and Sundal. It also makes for a great curry and salad base. Along with protein, Kala Chana contains minerals in such as copper, iron, phosphorus and zinc.
Kidney beans, popularly known as Rajma in India, are a potent source of protein in vegetarian and vegan diets. Along with the comforting Rajma Chawal, kidney beans are also used in exotic dishes such as tacos and burritos. If incorporated in a healthy recipe, rajma provides good amount of protein, fibre and minerals. Whether you make it in an Indian or international way, rajma is always a good ingredient to have in your pantry.
Matki or moth beans are sprouted and used in multiple ways in different parts of India. These sprouts are increasing in popularity as they contain a host of health benefits. Matki can be easily incorporated in salads. It is a good option for people who want to include plant-based protein in their diet. A must-try dish that has matki as a key ingredient is Usal which is widely popular in Maharashtra.
Chawli, also known as rongi, lobia, alsande kalu, karamani, and alasandalu, is simple yet incredibly healthy ingredient to have in your kitchen. Internationally, chawli is known as black eyed peas. It is soaked overnight and used in curries. A nutritious legume, it contains ample protein, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, potassium, and calcium.
While you include these ingredients in your diet, make sure you use unpolished versions to get the maximum nutrition from your meals. Tata Sampann pulses and dals retain their nutritional value by avoiding the harmful oil, water, and leather-based polishing procedures that scrub away the nutrition. They are packaged carefully to ensure low-moisture content and no adulterants. Choose pure ingredients and stay healthy!
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