Going to a new restaurant can feel stressful sometimes, especially when you aren't familiar with some of the items on the menu. You may know exactly how you like your salad prepared at the salad shop near your home, and you may have even memorized the healthiest meals you can order from any major fast-food chain.
When you go to a new neighborhood restaurant, though, you can't always rely on old favorites. We've got you covered. Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes," spoke with Eat This, Not That! about the healthiest choices at most Indian food restaurants.
"Chana masala, baingan bharta, palak paneer, chapati or roti, [and] cucumber raita would be some of my recommendations for a healthy meal," says Sheth.
If you're looking for just one go-to pick that will be a solid choice, she recommends the first of those options, chana masala, which she says is dish of "chickpeas cooked in a tomato-onion sauce."
Sheth adds that, if you're going for chicken, you're better off choosing a tandoori-style dish than chicken tikka masala, since its yogurt and spice marinade is lighter than the heavy or thickened cream you'd find in a tikka masala dish. Additionally, she recommends going light on the naan as well as samosas and pakoras, given all the refined flour these foods contain.
Of course, depending on what restaurant you go to, you may see different things on the menu. As Sheth notes, "There is great diversity within Indian food. Most Indian restaurants in the United States have a variety of foods coming from different parts of the country but predominantly from the northern part of India."
Given the variation from restaurant to restaurant, it couldn't hurt to have backup options. Sheth also suggests that you could go with one of several additional nutritious, vegetarian options including dals, rajma, or aloo gobi.
The next time you head into an Indian restaurant, and you don't want to have to ask your companions or the wait staff a bunch of questions about how each meal is prepared, consider going for the chana masala or one of the other RDN-approved options.
Already love Indian food? Then you're going to be excited about this data-based read: Top 5 Takeout Food Orders That Increase Happiness.