Why clean, healthy eating is at the heart of Indian cuisine

2:18 AM
In these health-conscious days, it can be difficult to find a fine dining experience which combines delicious food and health-giving properties. The so-called ‘clean food’ fad is a sign of people’s increased move towards a diet rich in wholefoods, fruit and vegetables, plus a modest amount of healthy protein and fat. 

If you love curry but also want to take care of yourself, what fine dining options are available? Fine Indian restaurants that truly deserve the name will always offer something for the health-conscious eater. This is not a recent development – Indian food culture has a deep-rooted appreciation of foods that help the body to function better. 


In the Hindu tradition, food, religion and culture are closely intertwined. Indeed, in the Indian household the kitchen is a place of special importance, which must be kept very clean. Like a temple, people must not enter the Indian kitchen with outside shoes on, which could bring in dirt that would contaminate the food. 

Hindu teaching uses a rule of three qualities or ‘gunas’ for many things, including food. When applied to meals, the categories sattvik, rajasik and tamasik relate to health-giving food, food for warriors and junk food respectively. These categories were set out in important ancient Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavadgita. 

Sattvik food is said to be light and wholesome, having a subtle influence on the thoughts and attitudes of the person who eats it. This type of food is usually vegetarian and avoids heavy spices and fattiness. For example, yoghurt-based foods and ricerecipes are often said to be sattvik. Only the finest ingredients and best mode of preparation result in food having this special health-giving quality. 

Rajasik food, on the other hand, is all about stimulation. In Hindu tradition, onions, garlic, strong spices and meat are included in this category. It is often associated with kings and passionate go-getters: people who are restless and energetic. Fried foods, alcohol and sweets are usually seen as rajasik. 

Tamasik food is best avoided. It means food that is prepared poorly, with overuse of spices, too much salt or overpowering seasoning. This type of food makes the eater dull and lazy and is associated with ignorance and a lack of discernment. Foods which are stale, overripe, vinegary or fermented are often included in this category. Eating too much will also make you tamasik. 

In Indian culture, cooks aim to prepare food with the utmost care and delicate balancing of spices and flavours. Ideally, Indian dishes are sattvik – gentle on the digestion, delicious and giving the diner a sense of well-being and health.
Examples of sattvik food include Kitcheri, a north Indian dish made from rice and beans, and Pongal, made from rice boiled with milk and spices in an earthenware pot in the south of the country.

When you are next looking for somewhere to hold a business lunch or to catch up with old friends, why not choose a fine Indian dining establishment? Choosing the finest Indian cuisine could have an impact on your health and your mood.

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