It is important to have a set of non-stick pans to cook various dishes. You would require a very small kadhai or wok for tempering, a larger wok, a shallow frying pan and perhaps a deep saucepan for curried dishes. (Remember non-stick pans are generally not put on high heat, as they are thinner and heat faster.) A pressure cooker is essential to cook food fast and preserve vitamins.
For instance, instead of frying foods, you can dry roast or braise
them. When tempering dals/beans you can either dry roast the tempering
ingredients or use upto 1 tsp. oil to stir-fry them. Similarly, while
making curries, onions may be braised - just add a sprinkling of water
or stock to lightly brown them, or cook them in a microwave oven, or
even boil them to prevent a raw onion taste in the dish. Alternatively,
onions can be fried using very little oil in a non-stick pan. If you do
not use onions in your cooking and are following recipes that use them,
try tomato puree or roasted plain flour to thicken curries and gravies.
Coconut should not be used because it is high in saturated fats. So are
items like nuts, malai, cream, poppy seeds etc.
To turn a high-calorie dish into a low-calorie one just requires you to
think differently. Usually dalis boiled and then tempered (vaghar,
tadka, etc) with fried spices. Instead of doing this, add your onions,
tomatoes, ginger, garlic (whatever you generally use) to the dal when
you are about to boil it. Then the tempering can be made with very
little oil, whether it is jeera, rai or even just red chilli powder.
All kinds of koftas, which are fried, can be baked instead. Either you
can bake the item in a pan and, when done, cut it into squares and put
the curry on top or you can make roundels of the mixture, put them on a
baking sheet or tray and bake.
The microwave oven also makes for easier fatless cooking in many cases.
Some dishes are more conveniently cooked in a microwave. In addition, of
course you can make dishes in larger quantity and freeze them for later
use (if you have a deep freezer). These can then be thawed and reheated
in the microwave oven.
There are some products available in the West that can help you reduce
the fat in your food. For instance, a cooking spray is handy for baked
dishes and dry cooked dishes. Non-fat milk, fat and sugar free foods,
low-cal margarines, egg substitute and other diet specific foods may add
variety to the diet.
Try and use skim milk if you don't like the taste of reconstituted
powdered skim milk. Heat whichever milk you get (cow's milk has less fat
content than standard or whole milk) and refrigerate it for 24 hours.
Remove the malai from the surface, strain the rest of the milk and use.
Curd, too, should be made from this milk. If you find the curd is on the
thin side, thicken the milk with some skim milk powder.
When making sweet dishes, use artificial sweetener wherever possible.
Or use part sugar and part sweetener. You can use the product you are
familiar with, saccharin, aspartame, either liquid or tablets. In any
case, it is better for health to avoid sweets: substitute with lots of
fresh fruit which are healthier and lower in calories than say for
instance halwa, ice-cream or other high calorie desserts.
Remember the greater the variety of food you eat, the more balanced a
mix you will get and the healthier you will be as well.
We have many low-cal recipes for you to try. Happy dieting!