I started off this series writing about South Indian cuisine and how it will help us prevent any ailments or illness. So I’ll explain about North Indian Cuisine and its benefits. North and South Indian Cuisines are vastly different. Today’s modern Indian restaurants boast a menu that includes different parts of both cuisines, making it seem both types are very similar. However, they vary in many aspects including the fact that the staple carbohydrate changes from rice for South Indians to wheat for the North Indians! South India is made up of 4 of India’s 29 states; their cuisine tends to be more vegetarian-based and a lot more coconut is used in cooking. The changes in terms of spices and ingredients used and cooking methods are reflective of the different climates and the ingredients available there. North Indians tend to use more yoghurt and Ghee (clarified butter) in their cooking. Famous Indian dishes such as Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tandoori are all part of North Indian Cuisine.
Be it North or South, the medical benefits of Indian cuisine is unparalleled. North Indians take in a lot more in wheat in the form of Chapati, Poori, Naan and Paratha. And wheat, as we all know, is packed with nutrients and minerals essential to the body.
Protective against Breast Cancer: Research at the UK Women’s Cohort Study found that a fibre-rich diet is extremely important for women to keep breast cancer at bay. Studies say that around 30 grammes of wheat consumed daily is enough for women to reduce the risks of breast cancer significantly. Reports say that pre-menopausal women who have consumed wheat had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer in comparison to others who ate other forms of fibre.
Prevents Type 2 Diabetes: Wheat is rich in magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes. These enzymes are involved in the body’s functional use of insulin and glucose secretion.
The other more important ingredient is yoghurt; of course, there have been many articles on the benefits of yoghurt. One must note that the yoghurt used in Indian cooking is mostly homemade and natural without any artificial/natural sweeteners or flavouring agents. The other important ingredient to any North Indian meal is meat. Most Hindus do not eat beef or pork for religious reasons; as such, most of our dishes only feature meats such as chicken, fish and mutton. In each case, the marinade is usually the same. Most of the time the meat is marinated with turmeric, chilli, cumin powder and the ever essential herbs such as cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander/mint leaves. Together, this elaborate spice mix is known as “Garam Masala” (in English garam means warm and masala means a blend of spices).
Not only does the above-stated mix gives the food its wonderful irresistible spicy flavour but also prevents any indigestion and removes the foul raw smell and flavour of the meat. The use of each spice in the blend is essential into the health of the body. Cardamom has been traditionally used in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and the Unani system as a remedy for gastrointestinal disorders and according to a new study it has been proven to lower levels of cholesterol too. Nutmeg, on the other hand, is used in many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions. It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin A.
Even though North Indian food contains many healthy ingredients and spices, the excessive use of ghee and butter in cooking detracts from the health benefits of the other ingredients. It can also cause serious illnesses such as high blood pressure and coronary artery blockages. Therefore, next time when you are slurping your butter chicken masala make sure to ask the chef to use less oil for a healthier dish.