Name one person who is not fond of having fried bhajias, kachoris, samosas, medu wada et al! Indian cuisine is incomplete without the mention of the innumerable fried snacks that are available. If you ever want to witness the wide array of snacks available, do visit a nearby popular food street in your city or town (Almost every city or town in India has some famous food streets where all mouth-watering, delicious and chatpata items are available). We have another category of fried snacks available like mathri, chakli, bhakar wadi, shakarpara, chivda, gathia, fafda and the other thousands of variations of farsan and namkeen. These snacks are typically either prepared at home or purchased from out and stored in the house. People love to munch on these.
Besides these fried snacks, many foods that are regularly cooked at home are loaded with oil and/or ghee and/or butter. For instance, parathas though are roasted; but looking at the quantity of oil added to roast, one can easily say that ‘parathas are shallow-fried’. To add more to it, parathas are typically served two tablespoon full of butter. Also, many vegetables are literally fried in oil. Take for example aloo ki sabji, bhindi ki sabji, bharwan baigan, bharwan karela and so many others. All of them are completely fired.
So why so much discussion on fried foods? Any harm with consuming them regularly? Yes, there are some concerns. Firstly, fried foods are loaded with calories. One samosa will provide you about 350 – 400 kcals while a full meal of two rotis, one katori of sabji, one bowl of salad and one katori of dal will also provide you will approximately the same calories. You will definitely feel full after having the meal but not with one samosa. As a result, you may end up consuming more calories when you consume samosa than the meal. Secondly, consuming fried foods regularly increases your daily fat intake. In the body, this extra fat is deposited thus, increasing your weight. Thirdly, frying results in formation of trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids help in increasing the ‘bad cholesterol’ also known as LDL cholesterol in the body. This ‘bad cholesterol’ hastens the development of heart diseases.
In spite of these ill effects, why are we so fond of frying? Firstly, frying increases the palatability of the food. Secondly and more importantly, it helps to cook the food much faster than any other method.
There are definitely other cooking methods available. For instance, you can always cook your aloo ki sabji in less oil or add limited oil while roasting the paratha. Also, fresh snacks such as samosas and dry snacks like chakli, mathri, gathia et al can be baked. But, not all prefer these as it does affect the taste to some extent. Most of us are quite rigid when it comes to the taste of the food. We often compare the taste, texture and mouth feel of the food to how our mother or grandmother made it when we were kids. We seek for utmost perfection in taste and can not take anything less than the benchmark set by our mother or grandmother. It’s therefore important to choose of what you wish to appease – your taste buds or your body and health.
Time is also a concern. As mentioned earlier, frying the food reduces the cooking time. When you try other methods like – steaming, grilling or baking, definitely the cooking time increases. But like there are no shortcuts to success similarly, there aren’t any for good health too.
Some tips to reduce the quantity of oil/fat to your food –
- Snacks like mathri, chakli, bhakar wadi, shakarpara, chivda, gathia, fafda can be baked. If you can’t then, baked versions are available in the market.
- Vegetables can be first steamed and then sautéed with little oil and spices. Some vegetables taste well when stir fried with little oil.
- Items like dosa or omlette should be prepared on the non-stick tava. Cooking on non-stick reduces the use of oil. Tava should be first brushed with few drops of oil before spreading the batter on it. Onion for spreading oil….
- Brush your parathas with little oil (less than a teaspoon). When you use a brush little oil will be required to spread over the parathas. If you use a spoon, you will end up using much more oil.
- Instead of frying the papad, roast them. They turn out to be much crispier on roasting. If you want them have some shine, try brushing a few drops of oil on it before roasting.
These are some simple things you can try at home. A thick brush is easily available everywhere. Try it once to see the wonderful outcome!
Remember, good health takes your time and effort to build. One needs invest time and be committed for the same.