Although Indian cuisine is known for its rich flavours, some dishes are high in bad fats.
Fat is an important part of a healthy diet.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good and lower the risk of disease.
On the other hand, trans fats increase the risk of disease, even when eaten in small quantities. Such foods are primarily in processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil. Fortunately, trans fats have been eliminated from many of these foods.
Saturated fats, while not as harmful as trans fats, by comparison with unsaturated fats negatively impact health and are best consumed in moderation.
Some traditional Indian dishes can be high in unhealthy fats, which can impact our health if consumed excessively.
This can be due to the cooking method or the ingredients used.
With that said, we look at seven Indian foods that are high in bad fats.
Samosas may be a popular Indian food but they are fatty, mainly due to the way they are cooked.
They are traditionally deep-fried, which increases the calorie content and can lead to the absorption of a significant amount of oil, which is high in unhealthy fats.
Samosas are also typically made from refined wheat flour, which doesn’t offer much nutritional value.
This pastry is often prepared by combining flour with ghee or oil, increasing the overall fat content of the samosa.
While the filling of samosas often includes vegetables such as potatoes, peas and sometimes meat, the healthiness of the filling depends on the cooking method and additional ingredients used.
Some samosas may include additional ingredients like cheese or heavy cream, further increasing the fattiness of this popular snack.
Despite being one of India’s most popular dishes, butter chicken’s ingredients are not the healthiest.
Butter is high in saturated fat and when consumed in excess, it has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Cream also contributes to the high-fat content.
The cooking method is another reason why butter chicken is high in bad fats. The chicken is often marinated in a yoghurt-based mixture before cooking.
While yoghurt can provide some nutritional benefits, the addition of butter and cream significantly increases the overall fattiness.
Some preparations may use chicken with the skin intact, which contains additional fat.
The skin is often removed after cooking, but its presence during the cooking process can add to the fattiness of the dish.
Similar to samosas, Pakoras are high in bad fats due to their preparation method and the ingredients used.
Vegetables are dipped into a batter made from chickpea flour and then deep-fried.
During the deep-frying process, the pakoras absorb a considerable amount of oil, which increases their calorie content and adds unhealthy fats.
The absorption of excess oil can make pakoras heavy and greasy.
The deep-frying process also reduces the nutrient content. Additionally, the batter often lacks essential nutrients.
Because of this, pakoras tend to be high in calories. This can contribute to weight gain and associated health issues.
Different variations of biryani mean some are healthier than others.
Some preparations use lean meat, vegetables and aromatic spices but others are high in bad fats.
Frying the meat or vegetables in oil or ghee adds additional fat to the dish because excess oil remains on the surface and the ingredients absorb oil.
Some biryani dishes include meat such as lamb or chicken, which can have varying fat content depending on the cut and preparation.
If fatty cuts or skin-on meat are used, it can increase the overall fattiness of the dish.
Biryani is often garnished with fried onions, nuts, and raisins. While these add flavour and texture, the frying process can increase the fat content of the dish.
Some biryani recipes also incorporate full-fat yoghurt or cream into the marinade or sauce.
This popular street food consists of a deep-fried potato dumpling (vada) served in a bread roll (pav).
But because the main component is deep-fried, a significant amount of unhealthy fats are added to the dish.
The filling is typically made from mashed potatoes mixed with spices.
While potatoes are not unhealthy, the deep-frying process means the potatoes absorb some of the oil, increasing the overall fat content.
The pav is often buttered before being toasted. Butter adds additional saturated fats to the dish and while consuming butter in moderation is fine, too much can lead to health issues.
The deep-frying process is what makes jalebi a fatty Indian food.
It is made by deep-frying a wheat flour batter in a spiral shape and then soaking it in a sugar syrup.
The sugar syrup adds to its overall sweetness and calorie content. While the syrup itself does not contribute to the fat content, it increases the overall calories of the jalebi.
This can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.
The batter used to make jalebi is typically made from refined wheat flour, which lacks the fibre and nutrients present in whole grains.
Refined flour is digested quickly, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which can result in developing diabetes.
Jalebi is usually consumed in relatively large portions. Consuming a large amount of jalebi can result in a high intake of unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories.
The main ingredient in gulab jamun is khoya, a concentrated milk product with a high-fat content. In just 100g of khoya, 24g is fat, with 15.2g being saturated.
These balls of khoya are deep-fried. During this process, a substantial amount of oil is absorbed, increasing its overall fat content and calorie density.
After frying, gulab jamun is soaked in a sugar syrup, which adds to its sweetness and calorie content.
While the syrup itself does not contribute to the dish’s fattiness, it increases the overall calories.
Typically served on special occasions, consuming a large quantity of gulab jamun can result in a high intake of unhealthy fats, contaning 16g of fat per 100g.
Gulab jamun is usually served with ice cream. Since it is a dairy product, it contains saturated fat. When combined with sugar, this dish makes for a calorific one.
Although these Indian dishes are high in bad fats, it is important to note that eating them in moderation is key.
Additionally, many of them can be modified to make them healthier.
This can be done by opting for alternative cooking methods, such as baking, or using healthier oils.