Health-promoting Indian vegetarian recipes
Lisa Marie Bhattacharya, RHN
Indian cuisine is revered not only for its sophisticated layering of flavours, but also for its link to good health. The healing components of Indian cuisine are largely represented by a variety of herbs and spices; how they are combined and how they are prepared is part of the magic.
Local, organic and traditional
Our love for this exotic cuisine may come from its inherent healing properties and ability to promote good health. And the best foods are those prepared with the freshest whole food ingredients available.
Nutritional studies show that sustainably and organically grown food (such as from farmers’ markets) provides higher levels of nutrients called polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerful nutrients that may help our bodies deny the establishment and growth of cancer. Regular trips to the market for fresh ingredients are an integral part of healthy eating.
There has been a trend in modernising traditional recipes to increase convenience and to make cooking faster and simpler. As people migrate to Australia and continue to eat their ethnic cuisine, they may acculturate and make adjustments to their traditional recipes. Examples include instant sauce mixes, canned vegetables and highly refined staples such as white flour, sugar, salt and rice. Unfortunately, with these conveniences we see a degradation of both quality and nutrients.
Healing foods in the traditional Indian diet
Rice is a staple in Asia, and studies suggest that brown rice, in contrast to its white counterpart, may help to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.
Some of the most notable Indian aromatic spices are turmeric, ginger, chillies, cumin, cardamom and coriander. These and others make up various curries. People in India typically eat 100 to 200 mg of curry every day.
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) has been shown to inhibit and halt the expression of genes that allow cancer cells to multiply.
There is likely a synergy to the healing properties of Indian cuisine, and it should not be reduced simply to the use of turmeric. An assortment of fresh, locally sourced fruit and vegetables undoubtedly contribute to the healthy status of the traditional Indian diet.
Use these recipes to delight your senses, awaken your body’s natural defences and enhance your ability to prevent, or heal from, cancer. And don’t forget that, traditionally, meals are not rushed. These recipes make generous portions and are ideal for sharing with loved ones.