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Feb 9, 2007 08:59 AM

Suggestions for "healthy" Indian dishes for cookfest

I am having a couple friends over next weekend for an afternoon cookfest. We are each suggesting a few dishes and then narrowing it down. We are thinking of either Indian or Middle Eastern or both. I am planning on making a modified saag paneer (less ghee, less frying, etc.). It just occured to me that I might make dolmades, since I love them.
Does anyone have any suggestions for very tasty Indian or Middle Eastern dishes that can be modified slightly (nothing extreme) to make them a bit healthier? I don't need ideas for hummus, etc. Veggie or Meat or Fish dishes are all welcome.

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  1. You can make a tandoori style shrimp (or chicken for that matter). You marinate in yogurt and spices and then I cook on a grillpan. Use a nonfat yogurt and not too much oil on the grill.
    Here is a tandoori marinade recipe I found specifically for shrimp.

    1 tablespoon paprika
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    a 1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
    2 fresh serrano or jalapeƱo chilies, seeded and chopped (wear rubber gloves)
    3/4 cup plain yogurt
    1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest (about 1 lime)

    1. Perhaps eggplant bharta would work? (one of my favorite dishes to eat at an Indian restaurant in Ft. Myers) This recipe is adapted from one of Madhur Jaffrey's ... I'll bet you could even grill that eggplant to achieve a very smokey flavor...I've not personally tried this recipe but hope to soon:

      This recipe does not include green peas but somehow they are in the dish I order at the India Palace.

      1. I love chickpeas cooking Indian style. I just made chana Pindi recently - this is the recipe I used:
        I left out the massive amounts of oil and ghee specified in the recipe, using instead about a 1/4 cup ghee which is more than enough. This recipe makes a spicy, tart dish, fairly dry.

        Also chana masala - lots of online versions. This is one:
        This is more aggressively spiced, great with lots of steamed rice.

        Both of these recipes are low in fat, taste good and ingredients are inexpensive. Also, look at dal recipes. I also made a dal and greens dish - see this page for several dal recipes:

        As part of my all-Indian dinner I also made chicken korma but I wouldn't call it healthy, it has lots of ground nuts in it which make it very rich. If you're interested I can find the recipe link.

        On a completely different note, I made a shrimp, fennel and kasseri dish from Ana Sortun's Spice (one of my favorite cookbooks). We have fresh Maine shrimp here in Boston so it seemed very seasonal. It's basically braised fennel bulb and ground fennel seeds with lightly sauteed shrimp. I used it as a pizza topping, shaving kasseri cheese on top and sprinkling it with the fennel greens. And I also made the dish in the book which has a ton of grated kasseri blended into the fennel/shrimp. Insanely rich but the sweet flavors of the fresh shrimp were a great match with the anise of the fennel root and fronds.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheryl_h

          Thanks, I like the Chicken Korma idea and I've actually found a recipe that sounds pretty healthy (it has coconut and almonds, but those fit my def'n of healthy).

          I have made Chana Masala a number of times. I've yet to get it exactly the way I want it, despite getting the recipe from an Indian friend whose version is absolutely divine (smokey, spicey, tamarindy melt in your mouth). Perhaps I'll try again.

        2. If you decide not to make the saag paneer, you can try your hand at saag meat - lamb or goat curry cooked with spinach.

          A veggie alternative that we use at home is a modification of channa masalla suggested by cheryl_h. I'm not sure if you'll find a recipe for that, so here is a rough one:

          1. Soak the chick peas for 24 hours (or use canned chick peas - I never do!). Boil them till cooked or use a pressure cooker.
          2. Heat some oil in a pan. I use sunflower oil. Fry some finely chopped onions (1 will do).
          3. Add some chopped ginger and garlic before the onions are cooked. If you have hot chilli peppers, add them as well.
          4. Once the onions are cooked, add spices. A touch of turmeric, a whiff of amchur (mango powder), a spot of coriander powder. If all you have is curry powder, add that instead but keep a few lemons handy to squeeze in the end. The key is to make it hot an spicy with amchur or lemon to offset the heat. You can also use yoghurt (but add that much later). Add salt to taste.
          5. Add the boiled chickpeas and fry well on high heat. Save the water that you used to boil or pressure cook the chick peas (don't add it as yet).
          6. When the chickpeas are well mixed with the spice mixture, add greens. The classic recipe calls for spinach, but we add whatever is freshly available. Arugula, kale, spinach, or all three at the same time. Keep frying till the greens wilt.
          7. Add the chickpea water (add to the extent you like a watery gravey), stir, bring to boil, and cook on medium to low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. If adding yoghurt, add it a couple of minutes before you take the stuff off the stove. If adding lemon, add it after you take it off the stove.
          8. Eat with rice for your Indian feast. Or, with a fresh baguette if for just another meal!

          When using canned chickpeas, this is a really easy recipe. And, always delicious!

          1. I second the eggplant bharta - it's so creamy, even with less fat. The same goes for daal (I like it best with black lentils).

            You could also make aloo gobi. There are tons of recipes online.