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How Do I Order Healthy Curry?


Curry can be a tasty Healthy Dining choice at Indian and Thai restaurants with a few dietitian tips.
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By Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD

Q:  Where did curry originate?

A:  The term ‘curry’ comes from the Tamil (primary language in parts of Southern India, Sri Lanka and Singapore) word ‘kari’, which means spicy sauce.  Original curry ingredients included herbs and spices such as ginger, onion, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, coriander, cinnamon and cloves.  Additional ingredients like peppercorn and a variety of chilis were later added upon adoption by a number of Southeast Asian cultures.  Curry was subsequently popularized by the British, and while we typically associate curry with traditional Indian dishes, curry has been dubbed the National Dish in Britain. In fact, Britain hosts National Curry week in the fall each year.  The current definition of curry lacks consensus, as ingredients can vary from 5 to 20+.

Curry can be a tasty Healthy Dining choice at Indian and Thai restaurants with a few dietitian tips:
  • Steer clear of curries that are coconut milk based – these tend to be higher in saturated fat.  Instead, opt for vegetable based curries and stir fry dishes.
  • Vegetables are key ingredient in many curries and can add flavor, texture and nutrition without adding too many extra calories.  Look for curries that include a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, green beans and more.
  • Stick to leaner proteins like shrimp, chicken and tofu.
  • Skip the rice or opt for a smaller serving of brown rice when available.  Curry can easily be a stand-alone dish with so many healthy ingredients. 
Next time you’re in the mood for a spicy Indian, Thai or similar Southeast Asian curry, use these tips to order a healthy curry at a restaurant near you or try one of these dietitian-recommended curry options on HealthyDiningFinder:
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