Protein is the diet-component that builds and maintains muscle mass, and muscle mass is vital for weight loss and a great physique. Fortunately, there are a lot of protein sources in Indian vegetarian food,in cuisines from all over the country. Here are some of the most significant ones.
Paneer – Cottage Cheese
It will be hard for you to travel to North and Central India and miss paneer. Better known as cottage cheese in the West, paneer is the finest vegetarian delicacy in several states of India. Naturally, since it is a dairy product, it is protein intensive, and depending on what kind of milk it is prepared from, it may also have high fat content. The protein that paneer contains is qualitatively excellent, with the right proportion of all the essential amino acids. A 12-oz serving of paneer contains nearly 14 grams of protein.
Paneer’s soft consistency and cheesy taste make it amenable to virtually every cooking style in India, and there are countless dishes in the country made from it. It may be cooked dry, in gravy form, or it may be added as a stuffing in local Indian breads, such as naan and paranthas. People commonly make a sandwich filling out of paneer as well.
Lentils, locally known as daal, are a great vegetarian source of protein, and they are commonly cooked in every region of the country. There are many varieties of daal available in India and over a 100 different recipes to cook them. Typically served in curry form, sometimes with the consistency of soup, daal is a common daily dish for almost every class of people in the country.
Apart from their significant protein content, daals are rich in fiber and they are great sources of several vital micronutrients, including magnesium, iron and potassium. They are also cholesterol free. Daal is a perfect food item for someone who wants to lose weight.
Chickpeas and Kidney Beans
Like lentils, these too are from the legume family and have similar nutritional benefits. Red kidney beans are commonly known as rajma and chickpeas as channa, and both feature prominently in the cuisines of North and West India. Amongst most Indian households familiar with both these legumes, channa is considered healthier. However, rajma is the more sought after delicacy, and is a common feature during special occasions.
Bear in mind that rajma and channa are not the easiest dishes to prepare for beginners, since they require some experience with Indian cooking, seasoning and spices.
It is widely known that nuts are a great source of proteins in a vegetarian diet. However the way they are generally used in Indian cooking, they would hardly appeal to someone really health conscious. Since almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are very expensive, they are generally used as ingredients in exquisite desserts and rich festive dishes, both of which are loaded with calories!
Better known as besan in India, gram flour has much higher protein content than whole wheat or refined flour, and it is also lighter in terms of calories. It is a vital ingredient in several Indian main dishes, cereal staples, sweets and snacks, and features significantly in North and West Indian cuisines.
At the end of the day, whichever Indian cuisine it is that interests you, you are bound to find high protein vegetarian dishes that are easy to cook, healthy and great in terms of taste!
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