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North Indian Cuisine

North Indian Cuisine
North Indian Cuisines - North Indian cuisine typically represents foods of Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan area. All the states north of Maharashtra are often clumped together in this generalization. Each state has its own specialties but it is the similarities that classify the food of this region.
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  • North Indian cuisine typically represents foods of Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan area. All the states north of Maharashtra are often clumped together in this generalization. Each state has its own specialties but it is the similarities that classify the food of this region. North Indian food is often called “Punjabi food”. North Indian food is the most popular food in restaurants and is often understood to represent Indian food.

  • Wheat is the staple food of this region. “Basmati” rice is grown in the northern plains and is often the rice of choice for pulaos and biriyanis. Variety of dals or beans such as garbanzo, kidney, urad as well as moong and toor dal is used. Milk, butter and ghee are used extensively. Chicken and mutton are the most popular meats eaten in this region. Most of the cooking is done on the stovetop using the roasting and frying method.

  • Punjabis popularized tandoori food (that gets its name from the tandoor clay oven in which the food is cooked) in this region. Today most Indian restaurants around the world serve tandoori dishes and typically Punjabi food.

  • North Indian food is a mix of simple to very elegant vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. A simple vegetarian meal may consist of moong dal, subji and phulka (thin fat-less roti). The food is seasoned with asafetida, cumin, turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala. Other Indians often refer to Garam masala as a north Indian spice blend. Onion and garlic may or may not be used. Then there are the non-vegetarian favorites like chicken and lamb dishes heavily seasoned with spices, onion, ginger and garlic. Foods like stuffed parathas, saag and makki ki roti, chole and bhature, kofte, rogan josh, tandoori chicken, biriyanies and pulao’s are very popular hear. North Indian desserts like barfies, laddus, and gulab jamun are extremely popular throughout India.

  • North Indian food is often described as “rich”. The food is often fried, and a fair amount of ghee, butter and nuts may be is used. The food is seasoned heavily with onion, ginger, garlic and spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cloves that give the food a “rich” color and flavor.

  • Nutritionally speaking north Indian meals with plenty of whole grains, green vegetables, beans and lean meats (poultry without skin) are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The overall fat and saturated fat content of traditional meals may be high due to extensive use of milk, butter, ghee and oil. This is where the meals can be modified in fat content by using small amount of oil to season the food. Also substitute low fat or fat free milk wherever possible and use butter and ghee sparingly.

  • North Indian food can be easily incorporated in a healthy lifestyle. If you have diabetes it is important to watch the carbohydrate content of each meal. Plan balanced meals of roti, dal, meat (if non-vegetarian) non-starchy vegetables and salad. A typical ‘thaali’ meal (pre-portioned out foods in small cups served on a large plate or ‘thaali’) with balance of nutrients, flavors and textures may work well with diabetes and a healthy diet. The amount of carbohydrate in each meal is individualized based on needs. Portion size of foods is important to determine the actual carbohydrate intake. Remember within reason most foods can fit into a diet for a person managing his/her diabetes. See sample menu below.

  • Sample Menu
    A sample menu of a typical vegetarian and non-vegetarian meal with an improved sample of the same is given below. A typical meal as mentioned earlier is high in carbohydrate and fat. By some modification in the amount of oil and ghee used, substituting low fat and low carbohydrate vegetables as well as cutting down on portions will help in cutting down in carbohydrate and fat content and therefore the total calorie intake. Consult a dietitian for an individualized meal plan.

  • Typical Vegetarian Meal with Non-Vegetarian Options

  • Breakfast              Chai (Tea) with whole milk 1 cup
                                     Sugar 3 tsp
                                     Potato Parathas 2

    Lunch                     Two Roti with 2 tsp ghee
                                     Rajmah (or) Chicken Curry 1 cup
                                     Spinach and potato subji 1 cup
                                     Rice 1 cup
                                     Dahi (whole milk yogurt) 1/2 cup
                                     Onion and Cucumber salad
                                     Papad 1 (Roasted)
                                     Vegetable oil in cooking 4 tsp
                                     Tea Time Chai with whole milk 1 cup
                                     Regular sugar 3 tsp
                                     Namkeen (fried snack) 1 cup
                                     Laddu (sweet) 1

    Dinner                     Four Parathas (8-10 tsp oil)
                                     Kheema 1 cup
                                     Potato and pea subji 1-2 cups
                                     Dahi (whole milk yogurt) 1/2 cup

    Snack                      Kheer 1 ½ cups

  • Above menu modified to yield a lower range of fats and carbohydrates

  • Breakfast               Chai with skim milk 1 cup
                                     No calorie sweetener
                                     Whole wheat toast 2
                                     Margarine 1 tsp
                                     Skim milk 1 cup

    Lunch                     Roti-no ghee 2
                                     Low fat Rajmah (or low fat Chicken Curry) 1 cup
                                     Spinach subji 1 cup
                                     Dahi (fat free yogurt) 1/2 cup
                                     Onion and cucumber salad
                                     Vegetable oil in cooking 2 tsp

    Tea Time                Chai with skim milk 1 cup
                                     No calorie sweetener
                                     Roasted Chana and Murmura 1/2 cup
                                     Banana 1
                                     Dinner  Roti-no ghee 3
                                     Chole (1/2 cup Kheema, low fat) 1/2 cup
                                     Cauliflower subji 1 cup
                                     Dahi (fat free yogurt) 1/2 cup

    Snack                    Orange 1
                                    Skim milk 1 cup

  • Weekends and Parties
    There is often a distinct difference in our eating between weekdays and weekends. On weekdays we are bound by time and schedules and it is easier to control the types and amounts of foods we eat. People will often say they do so well Monday to Friday implying that they make good choices in their meal selection. But come weekends (starting Friday night) we lose all restraints in our food selection. Indians love to party, as it is our way of socializing and connecting with our culture. Socializing is associated with special occasion foods of puri, chole, pakore, and not to mention kheer and halwa (generally high-fat foods). Portion control is a good tool to use here. If you are the host, plan your parties to balance meals and incorporate some lower fat foods like vegetable trays as appetizers and use less fat in your dishes. If you are the guest at a party and everything you see is high in fat and calories watch your portion sizes, enjoy the company and thank the hosts for a wonderful evening. You will be much happier on Monday morning!

  • Typical Party Menu
    Samose or pakore with chutney
    Chicken curry (non-vegetarian)
    Potato Pea subji
    Cauliflower with potato subji
    Onion, cucumber, radish salad
    Boondi Raita
    Matar Pulao
    Gulab Jamun

  • Suggestions for Person with Diabetes
    (Remember you have to watch your total carbohydrate intake to avoid elevated blood sugar after the meal)
    Samosa 1
    Puri 1
    Chole 1/2 cup
    Chicken Curry (non-vegetarian) 1/2 cup
    Cauliflower subji, avoid the potatoes 1/2 cup
    Kofta 1
    Onion, cucumber, radish salad 1 cup
    Raita 1/4 cup
    Matar Pulao 1/2 cup
    Avoid dessert if the main meal was too heavy or exercise portion control 

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