Weight Watchers claims that the average curry contains a whopping 600 calories per hundred grams and many other so-called diet regimes denounce it as the devil’s food. That may be true if your only experience of Indian food is a chicken korma from the local takeaway place or a microwave-ready meal, but if you seek out authentic Indian dishes created with love then it’s likely you will be eating some of the healthiest meals you’ve ever tasted. Savita Winslow tells us more about the health benefits of Indian food and the cooking classes she runs in Hong Kong.
Savita is an expat mum living in Stanley who is determined to educate us in the surprising health benefits of real Indian food. Growing up in Delhi to a Punjabi mother and Pakistani father, Sav was always surrounded with the sights and smells of cooking.
“I started my classes as I wanted to recreate something of the experiences I had growing up; I wanted friends and family to come and sit at my table and enjoy the authentic Indian food that I knew as a child.”
Sav’s first foray into cooking for anything resembling a business was when she was living in Sydney with her husband. She was always being asked for recipes so she decided to provide the mostly meat-loving school mums with delicious examples of Indian vegetarian cooking. What started with ten takeaway orders soon grew to over 50 a week.
When she moved to Hong Kong, project two was Indian cooking classes, which now happen in her Chung Hom Kok home four times a month. Her clients come mostly by word of mouth with many repeat customers keen to learn everything from vegetarian dishes to seafood.
I dropped in on one of her classes and was bombarded with smells, tastes and information, all totally intoxicating. We learnt how to mix spices for a traditional lamb vindaloo, where to source good herbs and spices in Chung King Mansions, how to tell the difference between real cinnamon and fake – even the medicinal properties of turmeric and onions.
Sav is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher and her zest for life and love of her native cuisines is truly infectious. I went away with a bag packed full of recipes and carefully measured spices and an urge to recreate all I had learnt at home.
The Health Benefits of Indian Cuisine
Turmeric: Used in most Indian dishes and part of the ginger family, this spice is hailed as a natural miracle being a powerful antioxidant and both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Onions: Indians recommend you eat one onion a day to prevent everything from blood clots to e-coli.
Lentils: Packed full of healthy proteins including isoleucine and lysine. They also contain dietary fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals such as iron. Lentils help regulate blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
Red chillies: These contain the chemical compound capsaicin, which has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. They are also rich in Vitamins A, B, C and many phytonutrients too.
Sav’s Hot Zucchini Dip
- 750g zucchini (sliced into 1cm pieces)
- 150g onions (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 to 3 green chillies (finely chopped)
- 1 red chilli (roughly chopped)
- 1 big garlic clove (finely chopped or approximately 1½ tsp
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp natural yogurt
- Salt to taste
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes over a medium heat.
- Now add the zucchini and the green chillies, mix them well, sprinkle some salt and reduce the heat to low. Cover the mixture and cook it for 55 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, stir in the garlic, and leave the mixture to cool.
- In a separate bowl combine the extra virgin olive oil and red chilli ground in a mortar. Keep aside.
- Mash the zucchini with a potato masher into a thick mixture, then add the yoghurt and mix well. Serve garnished with the chilli oil.
Use organic ingredients for a healthier and tastier dish.
Read more in our Wine & Dine section