Indian Eats: Dining Out Tips + Low-Carb Recipes!

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Staple Indian foods like rice, whole-wheat flour, and lentils are delicious, but alarmingly high-carb. A meal of naan, jalebi, and pakora may be mouth watering, but this classic Indian fare can have a major impact on your blood glucose. Don’t worry! You don’t have to part ways with your favorite Indian restaurant. Just keep these tips in mind when scanning the menu — you’ll enjoy the flavors of Indian cuisine without seeing your sugars climb.

 

Forget Fried Food

Indian appetizers, like samosas, are often fried. Instead, of veggie samosas (pastries), try shahi paneer — a homemade cheese in curried tomato sauce. Hungry for more? Grilled meat, seafood, or vegetable kababs are awesome app choices. Substitute mulligatawny for a bowl of chicken shorba — a lower carb soup of chicken, garlic, ginger & other spices. 

When choosing a main dish, avoid words like “crispy” or “padoka” (tempura battered & fried). Look for “tandoori”. Tandoori-style items are cooked in a tandoor (metal or clay oven). Typically, tandoori chicken is marinated in a combination of healthy spices and baked to perfection. Look out for tandoori fish and vegetable options too! Ask your serve how dishes are prepared if the menu is unclear. 

 

Skip Starches & Added Sugars

Indian meals often include roti and many traditional dishes are built upon starches. Bounce on the bread. Pass on the potatoes. Refuse the rice. When ordering an entrée, ask to substitute extra veggies for the starch base.

Sauces and curries are delicious but often high carb. Avoid sabotaging an otherwise healthy Indian dish by pairing it with raita, a cucumber yogurt sauce (<4 carbs per serving). Or order a slightly higher fat/sugar sauce on the side. Portion control is key. All you need is a few tablespoons — a little flavor goes a long way!

 

Get Your Greens

Properly cooked vegetables are low in carbs but high in fiber & nutrients. Start with a traditional Indian salad. Most use fresh ingredients like raw onion, cucumber, coriander, and lemon. Then, look for other veggie-based dishes:

○ Achari Gobhi (Cauliflower in Mustard Sauce)

○ Palak Paneer (Cheese & Spinach)

○ Bhindi Ki Sabzi (Stir-Fried Okra)

 

Say Yes to Spice

Spices are one of the best ways to add excitement to a dish without increasing calories (or carbs). Indian cooking uses turmeric, black pepper, cardamom, clove, and more! All of which have medicinal properties and tons of flavor. Chilies add heat to a dish but can easily be omitted.

 

Cook Your Own!

Indian restaurant menus definitely include diabetes-friendly options, but there are still diet landmines in the mix. No need to second-guess your order when you’re the one cooking🍴Check out these low-carb Indian recipes, and get in the kitchen!

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Andrea Lagotte
Andrea Lagotte

Marketing & Customer Experience Specialist at One Drop. Native New Yorker with a passion for positive psychology, mindfulness, and digital health for diabetes management.