8 Nutritious and Delicious Indian Dishes

The nutritious and delicious Indian dishes arise from a complex mix of cultures that converged during colonization.
8 Nutritious and Delicious Indian Dishes
Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor

Written and verified by the nutritionist Maria Patricia Pinero Corredor.

Last update: 11 February, 2023

Indian dishes derive from centuries of occupation in the country. Furthemrore, the settlers brought different culinary practices that brought about today’s gastronomy, particularly spices and vegetables.

Its main ingredients are rice, atta (a kind of wheat flour) and legumes. In addition, there are very traditional condiments of the area, such as curry, saffron, black mustard, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, ginger and coriander.

Join us on this tour to get to know some nutritious and delicious Indian food dishes!

8 Nutritious and Delicious Types of Indian Food

1. Papad

This is a snack similar to bread with a round or pillow shape. However, you can prepare and heat it in various ways. It’s a combination of flour, rice, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, and black beans.

Papad is usually seasoned with spices such as black pepper, chili, cumin, or garlic. In addition, there’s salt and peanut oil on the dough.

You then fry or grill it, and enjoy it like a chip with sauces or toppings.

If lentils are used in the recipe, they contain almost no fat. Also, they are a good source of protein, because they provide 24 grams per 100 of legumes.

Eating lentils is associated with a healthy lifestyle. In addition, they have a low glycemic index, which makes them suitable for people with diabetes. Also, they’re gluten-free and suitable for those with gluten intolerance.

Papad indio.
Traditional Indian papad.

2. Palak paneer

This is a vegetarian dish with mild Indian cheese, spinach, and spices, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili, garam masala, and cumin. Palak is Indian for “spinach” and paneer is a traditional Indian cheese.

This is usually a cream obtained by cooking and blending the spinach with the other ingredients.

The nutritional value of spinach lies in its vitamin and mineral content. For every 100 grams, it provides 30 milligrams of vitamin C, 113 micrograms of folates, and 3670 beta-carotene precursors of vitamin A.

Ingesting beta-carotene helps the body reach optimal vitamin A levels, contributing to vision, healthy skin, and the immune system. In addition, it’s an antioxidant that protects the body against the action of free radicals.

3. Chana masala

Chana means “chickpeas”. In this case, they are prepared stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and spices.

The literature points out that the nutritional quality of chickpeas enhances their ability to benefit health. When combined with other legumes and grains, they could become a natural way to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and digestive problems.

These benefits are related to the vegetable protein and high fiber content.

The dish is usually accompanied by fluffy basmati rice or whole wheat roti. It’s also feasible to find cakes made with chickpeas, called dhokla, or lentil and rice cakes.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Chyawanprash: The Nutritional Value and Uses of Indian Jam

This is an international preparation served as a main dish. It’s made with Tikka, which is chicken marinated with spices, yogurt, and masala sauce or spice mix.

Furthermore, it ‘ baked in the oven and coconut milk and tomato sauce are added during cooking. It has a very aromatic flavor.

Chicken and yogurt provide enough protein to help with satiety. They also provide essential amino acids that will form and renew tissues in the body.

Pollo tikka masala.
Chicken tikka masala has various forms of preparation around the world, but the traditional one comes from India.

5. Allepey fish curry

This is another nutritious and delicious dish of Indian food. It can be served for dinner or lunch and is prepared with tender fish, curry, hot spices, and creamy coconut milk.

Allepey is a district in the state of Kerala, popular for its fish curries. The type of fish used is kingfish and Indian mackerel. They are flavored with green mangoes and tamarind. Therefore, it has a sweet and sour taste.

Several observational studies have concluded that frequent consumption of fish decreases the risk of death from heart disease. Especially blue fish, which are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA).

This type of fat decreases cardiovascular risk factors. Although, the type of cooking is important, as frying is not healthy.

6. Dishes with rice are common in Indian food

The rice that characterizes Indian cuisine is basmati; a refined type that is the base of many dishes. This makes it poor in insoluble fiber. For this reason, it is combined with vegetables and proteins from chicken, shrimp and lamb to become the biryani variety.

Furthermore, these ingredients will provide fiber, and antioxidants from vegetables, and proteins that satiate. Moreover, the fiber lowers the glycemic index, as indicated in the Journal of the Latin American Archives of Nutrition. Thus, you absorb the carbohydrates slowly.

7. Daal

We cannot fail to mention, among the most nutritious and delicious dishes of Indian food, the daal. This is a preparation of lentils, flavored with turmeric, cumin, garam masala, cinnamon, and other spices.

The daal has many variants. For example, the base for one of them is red lentils or masoor daal, there’s another with chickpeas or chana daal, and one with split peas or toot daal.

Whatever the variety, they are all sources of vegetable protein provided by legumes, as well as resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic to benefit intestinal health. Furthermore, the insoluble fiber present in lentils promotes regular bowel movements.

Daal con lentejas rojas.
Daal with red lentils or masor daal.

We think you may also like to read this article: Does Turmeric Help Prevent Diabetes? This is What Science Says

8. Chilla

If you’re looking for an Indian breakfast dish, it’s certain to be chilla. It will remind you of pancakes, only made with chickpea flour or sprouted mung beans.

You add spices to it and serve it with pickles, natural yogurt, and sour cream. Furthermore, a gourmet way to present them is to garnish it with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.

In addition, Chili is a source of vegetable protein. In fact, if you use sprouted mung beans, they will provide more B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium.

Flavonoid-type antioxidants are also present in this legume, as well as other bioactive compounds of great scientific interest in the prevention of degenerative diseases. Furthermore, the germination of legumes can reduce anti-nutritional factors, increasing the availability of minerals and the formation of new polyphenols that act as antioxidants.

Enjoy more Indian dishes in your kitchen

Indian food, being rich in spices and vegetables, has a special predominance of nutrients and bioactive components. Thus, it adds value to healthy diets.

These 8 dishes we present give you an idea of the wide variety you can find in Indian cuisine. So, would you like to try any of them?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.