We may not see eye to eye -- for example she claims ghee is not as healthy -- but for the most part we do, for example on the emphasis of spices and lentils. I hope you the reader get yet another perspective (see the ones I did with Dr. Bharat Aggarwal and Raj Ganpath) on healthy Indian diets and can decide for yourself.
Ms. Vairavan, first question: what influences led you to seeing Indian food as being potentially healthy?
• South Indian cooking uses a minimum amount of light cooking oil, not the clarified butter (ghee) and heavy cream used in the kitchen of many Indian restaurants.
• Vegetables are not boiled or steamed. Vegetables are cooked fresh and are enhanced with spices. Spices have intrinsic health benefits as Dr. Aggarwal’s book, “Healing Spices” suggests. Spices aid digestion and make the food aromatic and flavorful. So, one can consume more vegetables and cut down on red meats.
• Salt can be reduced or eliminated entirely, substituting cumin, ginger, garlic, and other spices.
• Indian cooking especially South Indian cooking uses a lot of legumes (lentils, beans and peas) which are high in protein and fiber. Lentils are easily digested and are lower in fat.
• South Indian diet can also be a vegetarian diet and also a gluten-free diet because wheat, oats and barley are not used as much. One can also adapt South Indian diet to a vegan diet by simply omitting animal protein like milk, cream, yogurt, butter etc.
• South Indian cooking is light, making vegetables more appealing and vegetables play a dominant role in every meal.
• The foods cooked and served with different flavors help you feel satisfied with even with a small consumption of food.
• A small amount of rice along with the abundant variety of vegetable dishes and 2 to 4 oz. lean meat will give you a hearty satisfying, healthful meal.