Going Oil-Free? Try These 6 Healthy Indian Food Alternatives

Oil has always been viewed as an enemy of health. We’re always bombarded with information about why we should avoid deep-fried, oily foods if we want to achieve that goal weight, and in many ways that can be true. But in the end, what matters more is the type of oil that you consume. 

According to studies excessive oil consumption, especially oils high in saturated and trans fats, can raise levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol. This elevation in LDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Excessive oil consumption can negatively impact health in several ways. Oils are a concentrated source of calories, and consuming them in excess can lead to weight gain and obesity. They are high in unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions. Additionally, oils can contribute to inflammation in the body, impair insulin sensitivity, and negatively affect lipid profiles.

While it is important to consume some healthy fats for overall health, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados, it is crucial to be mindful of portion sizes and choose healthier cooking methods that minimise the need for additional unhealthy oils.

If you’re trying to cut down on unhealthy oils, try these 6 recipes:

Grilled or Baked Tandoori Dishes:

Tandoori dishes, such as tandoori chicken or tandoori paneer, are traditionally cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. Instead of deep-frying or using oil, these dishes are marinated in a mixture of yoghurt, spices, and lemon juice and then grilled or baked to perfection. The result is a flavourful and juicy dish without any added oil.

Steamed Dumplings:

Instead of deep-fried samosas or pakoras, opt for steamed dumplings. Fill them with a variety of vegetables, lentils, or lean meats, and steam them until cooked. Steamed dumplings retain their flavours and textures while being a healthier alternative to their oily counterparts.

Video Credits: Veggie Recipe House/YouTube

Dry Roasting:

Dry-roasting spices and ingredients can add depth and complexity to your dishes without the need for oil. Heat a non-stick pan and roast whole spices, like cumin, coriander, or mustard seeds, until fragrant. You can then grind them and use the spice blend as a seasoning in various recipes.

Oven-Baked Snacks:

Many popular Indian snacks like papadums, masala chips, or roasted chickpeas can be oven-baked instead of deep-fried. Place them on a baking tray and bake until crispy. This method reduces the amount of oil required while still providing a crunchy and flavourful snack.

Steamed Vegetables:

Indian curries often incorporate vegetables cooked in oil. Instead, try steaming or sautéing vegetables in a small amount of water or vegetable broth. This method helps retain their natural flavours, nutrients, and vibrant colours without adding unnecessary oil.

Coconut Milk or Yoghurt-Based Curries:

For creamy and flavourful curries, consider using coconut milk or yoghurt instead of ghee or butter. Coconut milk adds a rich and creamy texture to curries while yoghurt provides a tangy flavour. They can be used as a base along with spices and other ingredients to create delicious, oil-free curries.