By Reya Mehrotra
Late last month, PM Narendra Modi announced that September will be observed as Nutrition Month every year from now. The ministry of women and child development has already started calling for traditional Indian recipes to be included in a nutrition chart. Here are some Indian recipes and superfoods that are high on nutrition.
This feather-light, fluffy and juicy Gujarati snack is light on calories and a good vegetarian source of protein. The fermented snack is made with gramflour, semolina, ginger-chilli paste, lemon juice and mild spices. It is easy to digest, as it is steamed and not fried. It can also be made with rice flour. Adding sugar syrup can be avoided to keep the dish healthy. Dhokla is a good source of vitamins A, B1, B3 and C, besides folic acid and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, etc.
Perhaps the most loved south Indian dish is idli, which is had with sambhar and coconut chutney. Every bit of the recipe is healthy and tasty. Idlis are a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, among other minerals. They are best consumed steamed and should ideally be made with homemade batter. One can also cook semolina idlis instead of rice idlis. To add more nutrition, one can go for spinach-semolina idlis, vermicelli idlis with cashews, paneer vegetable idli, poha idli, etc. It is free of cholesterol and saturated fats.
Khichdi is an Indian comfort food that can be made in multiple ways. It’s usually made with lentils and rice, which are cooked together. It can also be cooked with garlic, carrots and vegetables to make it a good source of protein, etc. It is light and wholesome, and can be consumed with different types of chutneys, curd and papad. It is so light and healthy that it is usually the first solid food that babies are fed in India.
Any Indian meal is incomplete without rotis, which are consumed with vegetables or lentils. Rotis are a good source of fibre, carbohydrates and fats, but taste best when stuffed. Some healthy stuffings include spinach, fenugreek leaves, ground and spiced cauliflower, dal, paneer, green pea or onions and chopped green coriander. These add to the nutritional value. Stuffed rotis are best consumed with curd or homemade butter.
Panjeeri is a winter favourite in north Indian regions like Punjab. It is made with whole wheat, sugar and dry fruits, and fried in ghee. It is a traditional and good source of nutrition and energy. To make it healthier, one can opt for lesser sugar, homemade ghee and more dry fruits. It is also a good source of nourishment for postpartum healing and lactation.
This fermented dairy drink, which is left after churning butter, is best consumed in summers. One can mix cumin powder, mint leaves and salt in it for flavour. It is best consumed fresh and is a part of the diet in summers in Indian households. Buttermilk has a number of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc.
Kanji is made with black carrots, red chilli powder, mustard powder and black salt mixed with water. This mixture is kept in the sun for two-five days depending on sunlight. The sour, spicy and tangy appetiser is rich in anti-oxidants, aids digestion, and is good for the eyes and skin. The nutrition-rich drink also has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in vitamins C, K and manganese.
This concentrated product of cane juice is popularly used in India. One can find many types of jaggery in India like coconut palm jaggery, which is dark brown in colour, and date palm jaggery. Jaggery can also be used as a white sugar substitute if used in moderate quantities. It is used to make Indian sweets like laddoos and pedas. It is wholesome and consists of a number of nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium.
Ghee is prepared once curd is divided into butter and buttermilk after churning. The butter that forms is then used to extract ghee upon heating. Ghee is an Indian superfood that is a good source of fats and energy for intestinal health and for the heart. It also keeps one warm and is good for skin. One can incorporate ghee into the diet by applying it on rotis or cooking dal or vegetables in it. In winters, one can prepare gajar halwa or moong dal halwa with dry fruits in ghee.
One can make chokha, paranthas, spiced drinks, namkeen, halwa, baby food, etc, with sattu, which is a flour commonly used in India and Pakistan and is made by mixing ground pulses and cereals. It is traditionally known to have its roots in Bihar. Its insoluble fibre makes it great for digestion and cleanses the colon, preventing bloating, among other benefits.