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A Taste of Healthy Indian Cuisine

Nov 27, 2012 04:52PM ● By Megy Karydes

Each country brings with it its own flavors. Two recently published cookbooks highlight Indian cuisine with a twist.

Vegan Indian Cooking

Indian food is the only major cuisine in which vegetables take center stage, according to Anupy Singla, Chicago-based author of Vegan Indian Cooking. So for those considering a vegan diet, or looking to add more vegetarian meals to their repertoire, Indian cuisine is a natural choice.

Singla aims to teach readers what authentic and healthy Indian food tastes like. In a world where there is no shortage of great cookbooks, the author now has two books on her bookshelf. In addition to this year’s Vegan Indian Cooking, she wrote Indian Slow Cooker in 2010. Both, she says, are written from the perspective of someone who is American first with an Indian heritage. 

“I grew up outside of Philadelphia,” Singla begins. “And while I always maintain authenticity in the way I cook, I have also given the reader shortcuts and tweaks that my own mother made as a new immigrant to this country juggling two kids and a job.”

Singla prefers to use healthier ingredients in her meals and Vegan Indian Cooking not only features 140 recipes that are easy to make, but it offers alternatives to ingredients such as heavy oils and unhealthy fats.

“Gone is the ghee in my cooking—I never grew up with it,” she points out. “I also offer folks alternatives to the same old things. Instead of white potatoes I use sweet potatoes in my spicy potato patties. Even someone South Asian that knows Indian cooking will love my books—especially the one that cooks all my dals and veggies in a slow cooker!”

While her goal is to teach others how great and healthy Indian food can be, Singla admits to learning a few things herself. “I assumed, having grown up with this food, that everyone understood home-style Indian cooking,” she says. “What I’m amazed by every day is how little Americans do know about the food that South Indians eat on a daily basis from not realizing that we don’t put cream in our foods, to the fact that we don’t eat naan, but a bread called roti.”

The best surprise, she says, is that during the process of writing the book, her children reacted positively to her cooking. “They now crave Indian food on a daily basis. It’s amazing to me how addictive wholesome, nutritious, well-seasoned foods can be—even for young kids.”

To find Vegan Indian Cooking or The Indian Slow Cooker, check your local bookstore or visit

The Tastes of Ayurveda

Amrita Sondhi, author of recently-released The Tastes of Ayurveda, believes knowing your primary doshas can help you achieve balance in your life.

The ancient art of Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old healing tradition from India, is based on the concept that one’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being comes from a number of sources, including a healthful diet based on one’s individual constitution.

According to Sondhi, we are all born with three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) that make up our body constitution. Since our doshas reflect the elements of air, fire and earth, it is not surprising that our food and environs can affect each of these elements differently. That’s why some people enjoy spicy foods while others can’t handle it, for example. Or some love cold weather while others prefer the warmth of the sun’s rays.

“I have always believed that we must be, in large part, what we eat—what we nourish ourselves with, on both physical and emotional levels,” says Sondhi. “This is what motivated me to write this book.”

The Tastes of Ayurveda is a cookbook that appeals to your primary and secondary dosha. A questionnaire is included which walks you through questions to determine your doshas. Armed with that information, you can look for recipes that will help you maintain or reduce the dosha for optimal health.

“The ayurvedic diet treats us as unique individuals and addresses us as individuals,” says Sondhi. “It also takes into consideration the seasons, the time of day and our environmental surroundings.

“Just as various plants need varying degrees of sunlight or water, our individual well-being needs to be at its own unique, optimum level,” adds Sondhi. “People require the same individual care to sustain their Prana, an ayurvedic term for life-force, or vitality.”

In keeping with the growing popularity of whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur and barley, gluten-free meals and raw foods, the book provides recipes with these ingredients and food needs in mind.

The Tastes of Ayurveda is available at local bookstores. To learn more, visit

Megy Karydes considers Indian food her second favorite cuisine (after her homeland’s Mediterranean). She blogs about her quest for great food at