How Heart-Healthy is Indian Cuisine?

Heart-healthy food is important for many people. Many of our modern diets are high in sodium and saturated fats, which serve to clog your arteries, raise your blood pressure, and invite heart attacks, strokes, and similar problems. It can be particularly problematic to find a heart-healthy meal when you dine out at a restaurant. So, how does Indian fare measure up?

There are many benefits to traditional Indian cuisine. You’ll find that most dishes are heavy on the grains vegetables and lighter on the animal-based proteins. This means that there is a lot of healthy, soluble fiber that helps to break down the cholesterol obstructing your blood vessels. Further, all of the potassium-rich foods, like the potatoes, green vegetables, and yoghurt, are helping to reduce your sodium levels and bring your blood pressure down.

One of the other big benefits of Indian food is the heavy use of curry. It has been demonstrated that this Indian classic has many benefits for your heart. These benefits can vary from one form of curry to the next, but the primary benefit is that reduces inflammation. When it reduces the inflammation of your blood vessels, it decreases your chances of heart disease.

If heart health is of particular concern for you, simply look out for dishes that are higher in sodium and saturated fats. These include anything heavy in dairy, coconut milk, and ghee butter. Favor tandoor-based dishes and similar roasted foods. If you have any other dietary concerns, talk to your server at our Bellevue Indian restaurant.

The Curious Origins of Vindaloo

Vindaloo is a common staple of any restaurant that specializes in Indian cuisine. Featuring a powerful, spicy taste, it is well-loved by fans of the more fiery offerings of India. However, if we trace the dish back to its earliest incarnations, we find its roots far away from the Indian subcontinent.

The first ancestor of vindaloo comes from Portugal, where it was known as carne de vinha d’alho. This is a term that literally translates to “meat, wine, and garlic”. It came in the form of a preserved meat eaten by Portuguese sailors during long voyages. Ships would pack wooden barrels with alternating layers of a meat, usually pork, and garlic, all soaked in wine.

The Portuguese took their preserved meat with them to the Goa region of India at some point after Vasco de Gama first arrived in the country in 1498. The Goan people assimilated many Portuguese culinary innovations into their own traditions, and vindaloo was one of them. It was the Goans who added many of the spices we associate with vindaloo to the recipe, including chilies, ginger, coriander, and cumin.

The modern vindaloo is far removed from its earliest roots, mostly reflecting the contributions of the Goans. Further, though traditional vindaloo has not historically involved potatoes, most modern dishes do; this is based on a misconception based on the fact that the Hindi word “aloo” translates to potato.

At Spice Route, you can experience the great taste of vindaloo in the form of our chicken vindaloo, goat vindaloo, fish vindaloo, and shrimp vindaloo. Try it out today!

What is a Kurma?

The kurma, alternatively known as “korma”, “khorma”, or “qorma”, is a dish originating from Central Asian culinary traditions. Its name is derived from from an Urdu word meaning “braise”, which serves to describe how the dish is traditionally made. Generally, it will come in the form of braised meat or vegetables, prepared in a spicy sauce made with water, stock, and either yogurt, nut paste, or cream. A number of main ingredients will be used in the dish, including lamb, chicken, turnip, beef, and others. Its flavor comes from a mixture of spices that generally includes ground coriander and cumin. Other common spices include chili and ginger. In South Indian versions, chefs will often add bay leaves and dried coconut to the mix.

Though korma has traveled far and been adapted by numerous cultures, it traces its origins back to the Moghlai cuisine of Central Asia. Historians place its invention back at some point in the 16th century, during the Mughal incursions into the area of modern-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The earliest forms of the dish were cooked in mud pots over a wood stove made from mud; many believe that these old cooking techniques were responsible for much of the dish’s incredible taste. You can still find people using the same techniques throughout the rural parts of India to this day.

At Spice Route, we offer a variety of kurma dishes, including our lamb kurma, our shrimp kurma, and our fish kurma. Come and experience this time-tested taste today!

The Influences of South Indian Cuisine

spice-route-gallery-4043South India is a hot and humid area. Coastline runs along each of its states, giving it ready access to seafood. It has historically enjoyed abundant rainfall, making fresh fruits, vegetables, and rice available in abundance. It is therefore characteristic of largely vegetarian dishes, with some seafood-based options thrown in.

Rice represents the biggest staple food to the South Indians. This will usually come in the form of boiled rice, steamed cakes made from a rice batter, or a form of pancake made from a batter of rice and lentils.

No meal in South India would be complete without rice in some form. Lentils are also a big part of most meals, coming in at a handy second place as a staple.

The biggest seasonings in South India include curry leaves, mustard, pepper, tamarind, chilies, fenugreek, and asafetida. This accounts for why South Indian cuisine is largely known as the spiciest of India’s culinary traditions.

At our Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, we specialize mostly in dishes inspired by South Indian dishes. Come and sample this delicious tradition today!

Mango: India’s Delicious Super-Fruit

mangoThe mango is a fruit native to the tropical regions of the sub-Himalayan plains of India. Delicious and highly nutritious, mango is considered by many to be “the king of fruits”. It is for this reason that it has been a big part of Indian dining for many years.

Nutritionally, mangos are among the richest of fruits, often identified as “super-fruits”. When you eat mango, you are enjoying all of the following benefits:

  • A 100 gram serving of fresh mango gives you 25% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, as well as flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These compounds are valuable for maintaining healthy vision and skin, as well as protecting you from oral cancer.
  • A high vitamin C content and strong antioxidant compounds found in mangos have been found to protect you from colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia.
  • A 100 gram serving of fresh mango contains 156 milligrams of potassium and only two milligrams of sodium. Potassium serves to remove excess sodium from your blood, helping regulate the blood pressure of people struggling with high sodium levels.
  • Mangos are high in fiber, helping you to maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • The strong iron content of mangos makes them a strong choice for people who need a meat-free source of iron.
  • Mangos contain a variety of other nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamon B6, and copper.

At our Bellevue Indian restaurant, you can enjoy the benefits of mango in the form of our mango lassi or our mango shake.

The Story of Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka is an Indian dish that is largely attributed to the Punjab region. The word tikka translates to “bits” or “pieces”, describing the way that the chicken meat is prepared. Traditionally, the chicken is cut into small pieces and marinated in a sauce made from yogurt, lemon or lime juice, and a blend of Indian spices which may include cayenne, coriander, cumin, ginger, garam masala, and turmeric. These pieces are then placed on skewers to be baked in a tandoori oven. In India, people will prepare chicken tikka for special, celebratory occasions.

Often times, particularly in the West, chicken tikka is served with a masala gravy to produce the familiar chicken tikka masala dish, like the kind you can find at Spice Route. Though the origins of this particular preparation are unclear, it is largely thought that it was first served by Indian restauranteurs living in the United Kingdom. It is said that a bus driver sent a plate of curry back to the kitchen, telling chef Ali Ahmed Aslam that it was dry. Aslam, who was eating tomato soup at the moment, mixed some of the soup into the curry with an assortment of spices. The driver loved the end result, and brought his friends back again and again to try it.

If you’re a fan of this classic dish, come visit Spice Route for quality Indian cuisine in Bellevue today.

The Phenomenon of Chai Tea

Masala Chai SpicesWhat is chai tea? This question can be answered in two ways. When we trace the word back to its native land in India, the word “chai” is simply the Hindi term for tea. However, outside of Hindi-speaking countries, the term is often used to specifically describe a style of tea commonly associated with traditional Indian dining.

A chai tea will often be called masala chai, describing the mix of spices that goes into its brewing. The specific blend of spices used in the tea will vary greatly from one region to another, and even among different Indian households. However, the most common spices are cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pepper.

Some people will add to this vanilla, nutmeg, coriander, fennel seed, or chocolate. These spices are combined with a rich black tea, heavy milk, and usually a bit of sugar or some other sort of sweetening agent.

Fans of chai tea appreciate the warm, relaxing sensation that it brings about, as well as the health benefits that come with drinking it. It contains some potent antioxidants, powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and substances that serve to calm your stomach and facilitate a healthy digestive system. The caffeine in the black tea makes it a popular, more healthy alternative to coffee.

Drinking chai tea is a big part of dining in India. It is common to find this beverage on the menu of any good Indian restaurant, either within the country or abroad. At our Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, you can experience this classic favorite for yourself. Try it out at Spice Route today!

The Difference Between Northern and Southern Indian Food

Bellevue Indian Food | SpicesIndia is a large country with one of the world’s largest populations, so its culinary traditions have naturally developed a number of distinct regional variations. One can easily see the great variation present in Indian cooking simply by dividing the country into Northern India and Southern India.

These two regions differ greatly in their cooking, both in their ingredients of choice and the way their dishes are generally prepared.

One of the biggest differences between Northern and Southern Indian food is the staple grain. The culinary traditions of the south share some similarities with China and other nearby Asian countries, making use of rice for most meals. The north, on the other hand, has been more influenced by Mughlai cooking.

Their grain of choice is generally wheat. It is for this reason that naan and tandoori-style cooking is largely a specialty of the north.

Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be drawn to Southern Indian food. North India makes more use of meat and dairy products, whereas the south has a stronger focus on vegetables and seafood.

Both Northern and Southern Indian food is known to make use of curry and other strong, spicy dishes. However, Southern India is known to be the spicier of the two. Further, comparing the dals and curries of the two regions, Southern India’s tend to have a soupier consistency than similar dishes found in the north.

At our Bellevue Indian cuisine restaurant, much of our focus is on Southern Indian cooking. Join us for some quality curries, kebabs, naans, and more!

Goat Meat in India

Goat meat is not as largely used in the United States as beef, chicken, pork, and other, more familiar forms of meat. However, it is a common sight in India. The goat has historically proven to be a highly beneficial form of livestock for the Indian people, and has served as an important source of protein for centuries. Today, goats represent a full quarter of the total livestock in the country, not to mention over sixty percent of the total red meat consumed worldwide.

What is the Importance of Goat?
The appeal of the goat is easy to understand. First and foremost, there is no religious taboo against eating goat, which is a big concern in a country where many religious people are forbidden from eating the meat of cows, pigs, and other creatures. Indians throughout the country are freely able to feed off of both goat meat and goat milk, as well as make use of goat hide for various purposes.

As far as goat farming goes, the animal requires far less space and facilities than is required by cows. It is for this reason that goat farming became popular throughout many mountainous areas, where open grazing fields are in short supply. Raising goats also requires far less work and time, as the animal reaches an appropriate age for slaughter sooner than a cow.

The Nutritional Qualities of Goat Meat
Nutritionally speaking, goat meat is highly beneficial. A single 3-ounce serving of goat has only 122 calories, coming in far less than the 179 found in a comparable serving of beef and the 162 in chicken. The same portion of goat gives you only about 2.6 grams of fat, making it considerably leaner than beef, with its 7.9 grams of fat, and chicken, with its 6.3. Finally, in terms of cholesterol, three ounces of goat gives you only 63.8 milligrams of cholesterol; this puts it far below beef and pork, which both contain roughly 73.1 milligrams, and chicken, which contains 76 milligrams. If you’re trying to watch your intake of fat and cholesterol while still getting a healthy dose of iron and complete protein, goat is a strong alternative to more conventional red meat.

Goat in Spice Route’s Indian Cuisine in Bellevue
At Spice Route, there are many delicious ways to enjoy the great taste of goat dishes with the rich and distinctive flavors of India. Try a goat curry, a goat chettinad, goat pepper fry, goat vindaloo, or other goat-based Indian cuisine in Bellevue today!

The Tandoor Oven

tandoor-ovenWhen we talk about tandoori dishes, we’re talking about more than just the distinctive marinade that generally flavors such dishes. The word “tandoori” refers specifically to the tandoor oven, in which tandoori-style food is traditionally cooked.

Such ovens have been used at least as far back as 9000 BC, and have served as an important part of the culinary traditions in India as well as much of the rest of Southern, Western, and Central Asia.

The tandoor oven generally comes in the form of a large, clay cylinder, open at the top, with a wood or coal fire on the bottom. It is designed to reach very high temperatures, with the thick clay walls serving to trap the fire’s heat and let it build up to intensities that easily exceed 500 degrees.

As the walls warm up, they provide for an even heat that bombards the food from all sides. Chefs will often keep their fires roaring for hours or even days at a time to maintain a proper temperature for tandoori cooking.

Tandoori cooking is great for meat dishes, most notably the classic tandoori chicken that appears as a favorite in many Indian restaurants. In this recipe, the meat is coated first with a form of plain, mild yoghurt and a selection of spices that might include turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, and garam masala.

Pieces of the meat are then stuck on skewers and lowered into the tandoor oven; the thick yoghurt serves to hold the seasonings in place while they cook, while its natural acidity acts to bring out the best of the marinade. The final result has a pleasing seared quality, and the complex, often intense level of spiciness that many people have come to expect from their Indian cuisine.

Tandoor ovens are not just for meat dishes, though. This is also where an Indian restaurant is going to prepare most of its breads, including lavash, samosas, and naan. After the dough of these breads is prepared, it is slapped up against the sides of the oven. The intense heat cooks it quickly, allowing a restaurant to put out large batches of bread to be enjoyed as appetizers.

At Spice Route, you can enjoy the bounty of the tandoor oven in many different forms. Try our tandoori chicken, our tandoori roti, our paneer tikka, our samosas, or one of our many delicious varieties of naan at our Bellevue Indian restaurant today!