We Indians are notoriously famous for our indulgent lifestyles when it comes to food and rightfully so! Isn’t it? Well the truth is that while the quintessential Indian dishes can be best served and enjoyed a little too spicy and with a little too oil (or butter) – the new age has very ingeniously adapted to a diet that is as Indian as it gets in its basic palate, but is also protein-rich and suitable for any diet plan. While protein-rich food in India is not a new concept, the age-old dishes have been slightly modified to suit the more health conscious generation. Talking of protein-rich foods in India, the very first few names that come to one’s head are boiled egg whites, grilled chicken breasts, chicken tikkas, fish tikkas etc. While these Indian dishes are a no-brainer for any non-vegetarian going on a protein-high diet, we present to you some protein-rich foods in India for vegetarians that are very easy to get or make, and that will just fit any diet plan and also eventually satiate your craving for the spicy Indian food. Just make the suggested small changes in the very famous recipes and eat whatever you like.
To begin with we have listed some very common protein-rich foods in India that can be consumed with little or no preparation.
We bet that not a lot of you think of the coconut predominantly as a great source of protein, but it indeed is a very rich source of protein. A 100 gram serving of coconut has almost 3.3 grams of proteins*. So, whether you like to just chew on coconut or you like to add a lot of it in your curries, it doesn’t matter because this very popular south Indian food ingredient is definitely getting you closer to your daily required protein intake.
Spiced Almonds & Cashews
While almonds and cashews can be found in other parts of the world too, but the spiced-up versions of these protein-packed delights are mostly savoured in India. You could spice-up your cashew and almonds with salt, pepper, cinnamon, etc. while dry roasting them. Handful of these nuts is a great way to reduce weight as a 100 gram serving of nuts has 20 grams of proteins*, meaning you get your daily requirement of protein without doing any food preparation.
The very famous Indian summer cooler made of yogurt is a very good source of protein. Lassi, made by adding water to yogurt in addition to either sugar or salt, is a perfect drink for the summers. While the yogurt keeps you cool in summers, it also is a very good source of protein.
I am sure a lot of you have seen the old Bollywood movies with the hero (police officers usually) slowly chewing on roasted chanas all day long. While those action heroes must rely on a lot more than just chanas to get their daily quota of protein, roasted chana is undoubtedly one of the cheapest and easily available Indian snacks full of proteins. Have a handful of roasted chana every day if you are trying to lose weight and gain muscle, and you will see the difference very soon.
*Source: Figures are as per USDA.
Now, it’s time for the recipes. We have listed some very quick recipes of some protein-rich foods:
The quintessential rajma masala, if made with very little or no oil, is a very good source of protein for all those who want to avoid eating eggs or chicken, or those who want to continue eating the regular food just in a healthier way. A small twist that you could do to your recipe to make up for the little or no oil is to dry roast some capsicum with salt and black pepper and mix them later in your rajma masala gravy.
One of the most healthy and popular dishes you will find in India is the very classic palak paneer. It is one of those rare protein-rich foods that is delicious and yet very healthy. The combination of palak and paneer is a treat to taste buds, plus is very low on calories, has very less fat, and is fast filling. It is also a source of dietary fibre, which helps control your appetite. Opt for a low-fat version of paneer and all you are left with is the goodness of palak with the healthiness of paneer.
Sprouted Moong Chana Cutlet
Moong and chana are both protein-rich Indian food. Now, an interesting way of consuming these food items together is to take sprouted moong and add sprouted chana to it. Churn the mixture in a grinder to make a coarse paste. Now, add some ginger, chilies, chat masala, salt and lemon to the mixture. Make small tikkis of the mixture and wrap them with water-soaked brown bread. Stir fry these cutlets and serve this high-protein evening snack to your family.
Sprouted Moong Bhel
We all know that sprouted moong is one of the most nutritious, and protein-rich supplements to add to your diet. But, don’t you find it difficult to feed it to your loved ones as is? Well, why not make something interesting and fun out of this protein-rich Indian food? Add some cut tomatoes, onions, coriander leaves, red wine vinegar, salt, and chat masala to the sprouted moong and serve it with a sprinkling of sev puri. We are sure your kids will instantly fall in love with the crunchy, tangy protein-rich dish.
Roasted Chana Dal Masala Vada
Chana dal is a great source of protein. Which is why, perhaps, it is slightly more difficult to digest if eaten in large quantities. Chana dal masala vada is widely eaten in the southern parts of India. This very protein-rich breakfast/snack goes hand in hand with filter coffee. With loads of onions, coriander, green chilies and spices, this vada is a real tongue tickler. Grind soaked chana dal to make a coarse paste, now add onions, coriander, black pepper, salt and other spices to the mixture. Make tikkis out of the mixture and either shallow fry them or roast them to go with your evening cup of coffee or tea.
If you are tired of eating eggs or oats for breakfast and looking for protein-rich foods to add to your breakfast, then we have something for you that takes a few minutes to prepare and is very high in its protein content. Just take one cup buckwheat (kuttu) flour and add 1 tbsp ground urad dal to it along with some chopped green chillies, asafoetida, and salt. Add some water to the mixture and make hot yummy dosas. Serve these dosas with green chilli chutney. Urad dal and buckwheat both are an excellent source of protein and thus together provide a protein-rich breakfast meal – a perfect way to kick-start your day.
Who says you have to eat non-vegetarian food to increase your protein intake? Soy Indian products and other milk products are also some great sources to increase your protein intake while avoiding any kind of meat. The next time you hear someone come up with a list of ways to increase protein intake by eating fish and chicken, you exactly know what to say!