Indian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. Not only does it taste amazing, but its aroma carries and entices for an amazing meal experience in the home or in the restaurant.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you all about Indian meal prep and how you can enjoy a unique meal quickly and conveniently with an abundance of Indian meal prep ideas.
When you hear a co-worker say, “I want Indian food,” where does your mind go? Maybe you think about curry, naan and samosas. Or maybe you don’t have any image at all!
Let’s talk about Indian food.
While Indian food is extremely popular in other countries, the genre is just starting to take off in the United States. Perhaps it’s because Indian food is so different from anything the Western world has experienced yet. Doused with a variety of flavorful spices and pairings, Indian food is unique.
And it’s delicious.
How so, you ask? Actually, scientists have discovered that the overwhelmingly different experience you enter while eating Indian food can be traced to its molecules. Indian dishes go against Western culture, which uses common flavors when creating recipes. However, Indian food designs dishes with flavors that you wouldn’t normally pair.
It’s exactly that - science!
According to scientists, flavors in Indian food “rub up against each other,” which makes Indian food so appealing with different flavors that all receive a feature in a thoughtful dish.
Indian food has been popular in Western society for longer than you might think!
One Indian man, Dean Mahomed, opened Britain’s first curry house more than 200 years ago. Even before the first restaurant in England, however, English coffee houses served curry and people recreated Indian dishes in their own homes. Where did all the spices come from, and how did they get to the Western world?
The Crusades, most likely.
The spice and tea trade was extremely lucrative during the time of British rule in India and beyond. Queen Victoria employed an Indian chef who cooked the cuisine each day. Nowadays, it’s very popular for the English to “fancy a curry” after visiting pubs late at night.
Is it still popular?
Oh, yeah. In fact, Indian food is so popular that it’s become England’s national dish.
Well, kind of. Chicken Tikka Masala, one of the country’s favorites, was created for British people by Indian citizens. However, this isn’t a traditional Indian curry.
So what is traditional Indian food?
First and foremost, Indian cuisine is typically eaten with others and served on a “thali,” or a large tray that serves all the dishes at once. Because India has many different religions, it’s influenced by both Muslims, who eat meat except pork, and Hindus, who usually eat vegetarian dishes.
Ingredients vary from meal to meal, but know that one part is most important.
The term “masala” translates to a blend of spices, which is different for each meal. Cayenne is the most popular Indian spice, but others include cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, chiles, mustard seed and saffron. Of course, there are many others with such a long and diverse history!
Traditional dishes include chapati and naan, rice and coconut, and snacks with chai tea. Chai tea is extremely popular in the country, and is commonly brewed in the morning. Tea is much more popular than coffee or juices! Additionally, most of India abstains from drinking, as some cultures forbid alcoholic consumption. The country’s food focuses heavily on rice, milk, vegetables - and again - spices.
Concerned with the complexity? We totally get it.
Thinking about using so many spices - especially if you’re anything like us and only own a few - can be nerve wracking, especially if you’ve never cooked food for Indian meal prep before!
No worries! ThinkFit is here to help.
Indian food is often thought to take ample time, talent and effort. While this can be true if you’re making elaborate five-star dishes, the same goes for any labor-intensive meal.
It’s a good thing that ThinkFit is about time-saving recipes.
In order to save you some time for Indian meal prep, you can prepare some common ingredients in Indian dishes.
This type of cuisine is perfect for meal prep!
-Onions can be chopped, sliced and/or ground to have them quickly at the ready.
-Tomatoes are so easy to puree - or you can always buy it from the store! If you make it at home, though, quickly pour it into ice cube trays. This should make it easy to pop a tablespoon per cube into your future Indian meal prep recipes!
-Ginger and garlic pastes can be prepared and kept in your fridge for easy pouring. This also goes for purees with tomatoes, chutneys and tamarind pulp.
-Poori or chapati dough are common pairings for most Indian dishes, especially when filled with leftover veggies for your meal prep ideas. If you bake these breads ahead of time, you’ll never be without a meal idea.
-Make bhuna masala ahead of time and store it in the freezer for Indian gravy.
-You can always prepare quinoa, chana and beans before a meal so that you don’t have an extra item on the stove.
-Curry is ideal for meal prepping, which can be made completely and stored in portions for days on end.
Aside from its meal prep ease, Indian cuisine holds many health benefits.
Let’s talk about feeling better.
Indian food’s spicy flavors are known to ease feelings of nausea, heartburn and anxiety. To any reader, we can agree that’s pretty amazing off the bat! Indian cuisine is also generally low in fat with a ton of vegetables, fruits, fiber and lean meats.
Like we mentioned earlier, many dishes are based in fresh veggies with high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Even the sauces, such as Sag Aloo and Gobhi Aloo are vegan-friendly.
We have to warn you, though.
If you’re best friends with butter, this is where it’s time to part ways.
Indian dishes don’t use the creamy, delicious yet extremely fatty and sometimes unhealthy product. Rather, chefs and home cooks alike opt for vegetable, peanut and sesame oil to cook most dishes. These are likely items you already have in your pantry. Can you say, “convenient”?
Plus, you’re less likely to snack when sticking with an Indian diet.
The idea behind meal prep is that smaller portions controlled in prepared containers are convenient, healthy and prevent snacking. Indian cuisine fits perfectly into this focus. The flavorful taste in small portions is able to satisfy your taste buds. You won’t be reaching for any sweets or something crunchy after eating an Indian meal!
Additionally, the flavors in Indian food are vibrant and delicious. You’ll never eat “just because you’re bored” while eating Indian. Basically, if you’re looking for Indian meal prep for weight loss - look to the entire Indian genre.
Okay - This is what you’ve been waiting for.
Here are some of ThinkFit’s favorite Indian meal planning and prep ideas.
Take your typical scrambled eggs. They’re good, but simple. Right? Now, try this Egg Bhurji recipe instead! Indian-style scrambled eggs are creamy, spicy, full of roasted veggies and cooked with smoky mustard seeds and fresh cilantro.
Rava Upma is a typical South Indian breakfast composed of semolina, spices, veggies and herbs. Lucky for ThinkFit readers, it’s also one of the most simple and quick to make. Peanuts, cashews, ginger and veggies are mixed in with upma to create a delicious breakfast medley.
These aren’t your momma’s pickles. Brewing Happiness’s Sweet Turmeric Pickles can be made from any vegetable, and are a healthy and flavorful afternoon treat. Sliced veggies sit in a brine of vinegars, coconut sugar, turmeric powder and crushed black pepper for a perfect, crisp bite.
This Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is light, filling, gluten-free and vegan, making it an ideal lunch for all types of ThinkFit readers. Paired with an orange-coriander dressing, this salad is sure to impress with comforting, zesty flavors all can cook, prep and enjoy!
Kitchn’s Indian Chili Chicken is influenced by India’s neighboring country of China. However, the dish takes its own flair in the southern country when paired with coconut milk, soy sauce and star anise. This recipe can be made spicier with more ginger and/or chilies and can be served plain, with egg noodles or with egg fried rice.
Many Indian recipes draw notes and characters from neighboring countries, and the Massaman Curry with Beef is no exception. This spicy, creamy and nutty curry can also be made with chicken or lamb. According to the recipe, it’s also really easy to make ahead and reheat! What a perfect Indian meal prep idea for lunch.
While this dish may not necessarily be a stand-alone item, many dinners do include this staple: Indian Gravy. This gravy recipe from The Spruce Eats is quick, easy and perfect for Indian meal prep. You can prepare and store this as an add-in to any Indian dish.
Lamb Rogan Josh hails from the Kashmir region of India with rich, spicy and deep flavors. You can pair the delicious, tender meat with a saffron pilaf or steamed basmati rice, both of which easily fit into our ThinkFit meal prep containers. Cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick and cloves are going to be your best friend for this Indian meal prep recipe.
Don’t know what Instant Pot Dal Tadka means? It translates to something like tempered lentils. Trust us, it tastes much better than the translation sounds. The dish is made with arhar dal, onions, tomatoes, serrano peppers, turmeric powder, cumin and more! While you can serve it traditionally with basmati rice in your meal prep box, we prefer to eat it with a dinner roll.
Can’t wait to get cooking?
Pause just for a second. Like we’ve told you time and time again, you simply can’t enter a grocery store for Indian meal prep ingredients without a plan.
Here is an Indian meal prep grocery list for your convenience...
GRAINS AND OILS:
-Basmati Rice -Rava
-Whole Wheat Durum Flour -Cracked Wheat
-Chickpea Flour -Peanut or vegetable oil
-Coconut oil -Potatoes
BEANS AND LEGUMES:
-Tuvar Dalor Toor Dal -Rajma
-Chickpeas -Whole mung beans
-Peanuts -Moong Dal
-Cumin -Black mustard seed
-Clove -Cassia bark
-Black peppercorns -Nutmeg
-Cinnamon bark -Mace
-Bay leaves -Whole dry red chilies
-Garam Masala -Sambar Powder
-Curry Powder -Garlic Paste
-Jalapenos -Green beans
-Green peas -Zucchini
-Lemon -Coconut milk
With all of these recipes and ingredients now at your fingertips, you’ll be able to prepare Indian meal prep in no time. We at ThinkFit always love the added benefit that meal prep brings with convenience, ease and portion control. However, it makes our lifestyle even easier when the food is just this delicious.
If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this:
Give Indian food a try - you’ll probably love it!
(...Unless you burn the food or mess up the recipe, which is totally not our fault.)
In the meantime, check out this hashtag on Instagram: #indiancooking. This social media resource gives you unlimited access to the world’s recipes, recommendations and even more creativity to give you Indian meal prep ideas.
So… what are you waiting for?
We at ThinkFit are so excited to hear what you think about Indian cuisine and how it fits into your healthy meal prep lifestyle. Don’t forget to check out our meal prep bag while you’re here - it makes Indian meal prep that much easier to take with you on the go!
Do you love our new post? Have you ever tried an Indian meal, or do you stick with an Indian diet? Are there additional tips or Indian meal prep resources you love?
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