December 11, 2007

Healthy Meal: North Indian Chicken Curry and Chana Dal

So… I like to cook. A lot. A year and a half ago, I hadn’t cooked more than pasta with jarred sauce. Then I took a summer internship in Florida – where I didn’t know a single person in the entire state. To keep myself busy, I watched Food Network and taught myself to cook. (That was also when I started running for the first time since my thirteen minute mile embarrassments twice a year in primary school… it was really a summer of change.) Now, I don’t claim to be a gourmet, but I can follow a recipe really well, and I’ve followed enough of them that my repertoire makes people think I’m an awesome chef. In any case, I am very skilled at finding recipes on and then making them healthy with a few substitutions. I log everything I eat with DailyPlate, and generally the only times I’ve had problems going over are when I either go out to eat, or have a night of drinking. (Unfortunately, the latter happens a bit more than it should happen, which is why I’m not quite as fit as I’d like to be.) I like to cook every night, which can be a bit tough with my job, but right now I’m working on a project in Manhattan, so I can be home every night to cook and relax.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is to announce that as a special treat for you, I’ll be posting my nightly recipes here for your eating enjoyment. Tonight’s specialty: North Indian Chicken Curry and Chana Dal.

First, I cut the recipe in half. I usually do this to end up with two servings (one for dinner tonight, one to bring to work for lunch tomorrow). However, this one still actually made four pretty big servings (the above is actually two servings, because I tried to eat half of what I made, which just didn’t work). Even just half of what’s above made me pretty full, so I now have three good-sized servings left. Looks like I’ll be eating Indian for a while!

Substitutions for the dal:
-1 tsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light instead of the ghee
-1/2 jalapeno pepper instead of a whole. Not because it’s healthier, but because that’s all I had. I kept the seeds in (which are the spiciest part, in case you were wondering), so even with 1/2 a pepper it still came out a bit spicy for my taste.
-No salt or sugar. I almost never use salt in a recipe, and I know from experience that this recipe is sweet even without the sugar. I think it’s because of the garam masala.
-Water instead of chicken stock. Usually I don’t sub that, but I had a lot of sodium already today so I was trying to cut back.

Substitutions for the curry:
-Two chicken breasts instead of 1/2 chicken
-No salt
-Again, 1 tsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light instead of the ghee
-And again, 1/2 jalapeno. (I need to learn to check the ingredient proportions before I go shopping.) Though again, this was plenty spicy with the seeds.
-No sugar. Again, the garam masala is sweet enough for me.
-No tomato paste, just because I didn’t have it and the diced tomatoes make it tomato-y enough.
-1 Idaho potato instead of 2 cups boiling potatoes. I don’t know if that’s the same thing so I’m putting it down as a substitution.
-Water instead of chicken stock for the same reason as above.

Nutritional results:
117 calories for the curry (recipe here)
105 calories for the dal (recipe here)
120 calories for Baji’s Traditional Tandoori Papadums that I snacked on (those are the off-white chips in the top right corner bowl)
110 calories for a glass of milk to help temper the spiciness

Review: 4/5
I think this is probably the lowest calorie yet most filling meal I’ve made yet! It was a bit too spicy even though I drank with a glass of milk. However, that was probably because I used the seeds of the pepper instead of paying attention and buying two jalapenos instead of one that I tried to stretch. Took me about 20 mins to actually prep and cook, and another 20 for it to sit on the stove while I sat on my butt and watched TV. Good thing this was low cal, huh?


2 thoughts on “Healthy Meal: North Indian Chicken Curry and Chana Dal”

  1. Most of the recipes I’m going to be posting on here are super easy, so maybe you can learn to impress him 🙂 Tonight’s dinner took me about 5 mins of prep work, and now I’m just waiting for it to bake… we’ll see if it comes out good!

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