Reader’s Request: Indian Food Newbies

Hiiiiii 😀 How’s your night going? Hope you’ve had a lovely day <3 I’ve enjoyed reading about who you would like to meet– so many fun answers 🙂

Mid-morning snackage today was a bowl of goat’s milk yogurt mixed with 1/2 scoop Sun Warrior + local blueberriessnack

It tasted almost dessert-like… like a CUSTARD. Redonk.

After going to work for a while, the pilot met me in between appointments for Indian food celebration.

Buffet style:


With the necessary roti:


We left happy, with Indian food babies in tow.

Speaking of Indian food babies, many of you have asked me for tips on what to order at an Indian restaurant, or ideas for recipes to make at home.

Honestly, I’m kind of boring when it comes to Indian food. Once I try something I like, I stick with it. I’m a creature of habit 🙂

That being said, here are my faves (please feel free to add to my list in the comment section!) 😀


Vegan options:

*Note: Make sure that your food will be cooked in vegetable oil instead of ghee for it to be totally vegan (Thanks Kim, for reminding me of this!)

-Channa Masala- chickpeas, tomatoes and spices

-Baigan Bhartha (make sure they don’t use cream.. from what I’ve noticed, most places don’t)- roasted eggplant, tomato and spices

-Veg Jalfreezi- mixed vegetables and spices

-Dal Bukara- spicy lentils

dal bukara

Vegetarian faves:

-Vegetable korma- vegetables in a creamy sauce

-Paneer curry- cheese with curry and vegetables

curry shrimp

Meaty choices:

-Chili Chicken (my favorite in the meat-eating days)- spicy red chicken with bell peppers and onions

-Tandoori salmon- grilled salmon with green bell pepper, mint and onion; a great first-timer option

-Tandoori chicken- grilled chicken with green bell pepper, mint and onion

-Chicken Tikka Masala- chicken in a creamy curry sauce



-Tandoori roti (whole wheat naan)

-Mango lassi (sweet yogurt drink)

-Pappadum (like chips, made from lentil flour) and dippers (mint chutney, tamarind chutney, etc)

-Gajar Halwa- if they have this, get it. It’s super sweet (not very healthy), but made with carrots and an awesome dessert choice.

*Tips: When you order, make sure to specify how spicy you’d like your food to be (mild, medium, hot). If you’re feeling adventurous, ask the server what they recommend. If in doubt, get the buffet. It’s a great way to try out a variety of dishes sans commitment 😀

Recipes to make at home:


Slow Cooker Eggplant Curry

-Vegan Gajar Halwa

Channa Masala

Baigan Bhartha

Tandoori roti

Chicken tikka masala

Happy Indian food feasting!

*Note: If you’ll be in Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit, we’re planning an Indian dinner for Saturday night. Get stoked 😉

See ya in the morning <3


Something to read: *This article* on – featuring yours truly along with some of my beautiful bloggy friends 🙂

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  1. Ilana on July 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Mmmmm.. fantastic list.. the only things missing are vegetable vindaloo, chappati bread, samosas (omg samosas), and saad aloo! Now I’m craving Indian like MAD!!

  2. BethT on July 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    They may make me a Fatnessista due to the fry factor, but I love me some samosas…

  3. Exercise and Eat on July 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Chana Masala and Chicken Tikka are my two favorite Indian dishes- I could eat them anytime!

  4. Maria on July 21, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I just passed an Indian restaurant today, but have never been to one! Thanks for the info, now I feel more comfortable knowing what I would order.

  5. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on July 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Still no Indian food here. I think I am just lazy. But I am dying to try,

  6. Angie (Losing It and Loving It) on July 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I have always wanted to try Indian so this is very helpful because I had no clue. Now I have to tell hubby it’s time to go out to try something new.

    Great article! Found a few new blogs that I look forward to reading.

  7. Allie (Live Laugh Eat) on July 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    My brother always adds protein powder to yogurt! I gotta try it sometime! I always think yogurt has enough protein but he says he just needs to get in more calories–guys 🙂

    Thanks for the Indian food guide Lady!!

  8. Beth on July 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    samosas!! and aloo gobi!! and any kind of daal, really…mmmmmm…and garlic naan…mmmmm

  9. Heather on July 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Next time you’re in Orlando, you MUST go to The Woodlands – it’s an all veg Indian restaurant. They have a buffet. It’s by the Florida Mall and that part of town has gotten kinda sketchy, but it’s so yummy. They have the BEST dosais! (I know you don’t eat potatoes, but mixed veggie dosai is so yummy.)

  10. robin on July 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    My fav is channa masala! The other night, my mom and I shared saag chole. Most likely vegan, definitely vegetarian, and definitely delicious!

  11. Kim on July 21, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Just adding this in hopes of not confusing new vegans/ new-to-Indian-food vegans– a lot of Indian food that appears to be vegan is NOT vegan unless you specifically ask for it to be cooked in vegetable oil. Some places are accomodating to this request, others… not so much. Authentic Indian food is often cooked in ghee, which is clarified butter.

    • Fitnessista on July 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      WOW. totally forgot about that! thank you

  12. Amanda @ Vegacious on July 21, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I would love to join you all on Saturday night for dinner at HLS!!!! How do I get on the list? Thanks!!!

    • Fitnessista on July 21, 2010 at 10:48 pm

      i’ll send ya an email sometime soon with the tentative deets and we can figure out everything for sure that weekend 🙂

      • Megan (Braise The Roof) on July 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm

        Gina- I’ll be at the Summit…I live in Chicago so if you need recommendations about where to go to get Indian, let me know! 🙂

  13. Allison @ Food For Healing on July 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    so jealous, wish i was going to be in chicago ha, oh well, stuck in Canada for me

  14. fittingbackin on July 21, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    LOVE the recipe round up and love your recs – thanks so much, girl!

  15. Dorry on July 21, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    So pumped about our HLS Indian dinner extravaganza!

  16. Lauren @ BIOCHEMISTA on July 21, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    What a great post! I love Indian food and have been wanting to make some new dishes! 🙂

    Congrats on the article!! 🙂

  17. holly @ on July 21, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Gina your recipe for crustless quiche looks wonderful! I’ll have to give that a try.
    I’ve had Indian food a few times, but its been so long ago that I dont’ really remember what I got. There is a buffet place near my house, I think I might venture out there this weekend and give it a try!

  18. Pure2raw twins on July 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, I love Indian food, but have not been in awhile since my eating habits have changed. I always wanted to ask you what you get, so thank you. I am bookmarking this ; ) Have a great time in Chicago, wish we could come and hang out.

    • Fitnessista on July 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

      wish you could come, too!!!

  19. Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter on July 21, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I love your reader’s requests. You should make a tab for it on the top of your homepage.

    • Fitnessista on July 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

      i’m working on a top posts page, which will have all of the reader’s request 🙂 it’s taking a while though, haha

  20. Nicole on July 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    What Indian restaurant are you hitting up in Chicago? I was thinking about getting Indian the other day, but couldn’t think of one that I’d heard recommended. This city has too many restaurants!

    • Fitnessista on July 22, 2010 at 9:07 am

      i’m not sure yet, but i’ve had gaylord before and it was AMAZING 🙂

  21. Lindsay on July 22, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Korma are my two absolute favorites. I’ve also had a kind of roti that is filled with cherries and a light sprinkling of cheese. Such a random combination but it’s delicious!

  22. Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness on July 22, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Hooray for Indian food!
    Please add me to the email list for the HLS Indian extravaganza 😀 Chicago Curry House, here we come!

  23. Heena on July 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

    FYI Vegans…unless you are eating at a restaurant that specifically caters to vegans, Daal Bukhara in particular is most definitely NOT vegan. In traditional recipes, which most good restaurants and Indian cooks use, butter and cream are the reason this type of daal tastes so luscious. If you don’t do butter or cream or want something a bit lighter, ask if they have yellow daal, as this preparation tends to be made without the addition of cream. As for, one of my favorite appetizers is Tandoori Paneer! Happy Eating 🙂

    • Fitnessista on July 22, 2010 at 9:07 am

      good to know, thank you! no wonder it tastes so creamy, hahah 🙂

  24. Jackie (Peaces of Earth) on July 22, 2010 at 12:25 am

    It has been WAY too long since I’ve had Indian food!!! Love your choices. YUMMO. Before I went vegan my favorite was Palak Paneer…spinach with cheese. There’s an Indian place around me that makes it with tofu instead, amazingness!!

  25. Christie on July 22, 2010 at 12:53 am

    My favorite thing at the Indian restaraunt is Peshwari Naan which is naan (bread) cooked with butter/oil and some type of coconut filling. One of our Indian places around here also serves Mediterranean food so I order that usually when we go there but I love to make my own chana masala. Be careful when ordering though because that Indian food is spicy if you are wimpy like me — ask for extra mild!

  26. on July 22, 2010 at 1:23 am

    LOVE when you post INDIAN FOOD! looks so scrum-didily-umptious <3

  27. ida on July 22, 2010 at 1:37 am

    I love anything that was cooked in a tandoori oven, and puri bread. I also love a dosa with all the chutney… basically Indian food is amazing!

  28. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on July 22, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Congrats on your recipe and the article, Gina! That’s so awesome! I wanna be on a list like that one day when I grow up 🙂 I did get a weird publishing thing in Hers magazine a couple months ago but they didn’t cite it properly and it was more like plagiarism than “being featured” if you know what I mean. Anyhoooo….congrats on your success!!!!

    Indian Food, I think I am the only person who never goes out for Indian and there’s 3 of them on my block. I smell it wafting into my bedroom all the time!

  29. Mimi on July 22, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Love the article on WomansDay! It’s fun to get a little inspiration from good food and then health-ify it!

  30. Romy on July 22, 2010 at 2:07 am

    My favorite dish is Chicken Tikka Massala 😀 I love this dish. It has to be very spicy though 😉 And Dal Bukara *yum* I love love love Indian Food! Even though I’ve never tried it at home. I’m a little bit overwhelmed by all the exotic ingredients…

  31. Little Bookworm on July 22, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Love the Reader’s Request! My favourite Indian food: Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower), Saag Aloo (Spinach and Potato), and Channa Masala (like you). Oh and Vegetable Samosas/Garlic Naan. 🙂

    Congrats on the article!

  32. Lauren on July 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Thank you for this post! I do love Indian food but always end up getting the same old thing because it’s tried and true, so it’s great to hear about your own personal recommendations. Will definitely try to branch out with some of these. 🙂

  33. Gillbert on July 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Butter chicken is also a good starter or one to go with if you can’t handle spices. It’s creamy with a mild flavour. My favourite is chicken palak but it’s commonly done as palak paneer as well. Basically a spinachy curry and also quite mild.

  34. Meaghan on July 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I worship the channa masala from our local Indian restaurant. I’ve tried the Smitten Kitchen recipe as well, which is fantastic!

  35. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on July 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Congrats on the article! My favourite Indian dishes are definitely anything with tandoori in the title! (Usually chicken – but I don’t think I’ve ever had tandoori salmon yet… sounds good!)

  36. Jen on July 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I don’t have a ticket for the Healthy Living Summit, but I do live in Chicago and am a fan of your blog! Thanks for all you share on here!

    Not sure if you already have an Indian Restaurant in mind, but everyone I know RAVES about the Indian Garden Restaurant downtown:
    I’ve never been there, but I hear their lunch buffet is to die for.


  37. Mary on July 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

    My boyfriend lived in India for work and loves to cook me Indian food! My new favorite is bhel puri which is more of an appetizer with crunchy puffed rice, onion and tomato mixed with chutney. It is so yummy and refreshing!

    I live in Chicago (River North) and am attending the Summit. Let me know where you guys are thinking of going 🙂

  38. Kristi on July 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I very highly recommend you go to Hema’s Kitchen on Devon when you’re in Chicago for Indian food. Devon is waaaay on the North Side of the city, but it’s pretty much “Little India”; there are Indian and Pakistani grocery stores, butchers, and trillions of restaurants. I’ve sampled pretty much all of them, and Hema’s is by far, hands down, ridiculously the best. The service can be spotty, and they don’t do buffet, but it has always been completely and totally worth the wait. The menu is massive, portion sizes are great for sharing, and the naan is killer. Honestly, you’d be a fool to go anywhere else.

  39. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on July 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations! I can’t believe I’ve never had Indian food because it all sounds so good!

  40. Natalie (The Sweets Life) on July 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you for this! I love Indian food though I’ve only had it once ha, but I want to try making it at home…so your links were PERFECT!!

  41. Elise on July 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Hey Gina!

    I really love…make that adore Indian food…all of it!! I’ve never seen Tandoori Salmon though. Not many Indian food places in the suburbs of Houston, I’m afraid.

    I just wanted to say that I don’t think Roti is just whole wheat Naan. It’s my understanding that Roti is unleavened (no yeast or other levening agents) while Naan is a levened bread. Just sayin’ =D

    The crustless goat cheese quiche looks amazing!! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the link!!

  42. LC on July 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention Saag! Usually includes cream and spinach. When cooked it’s spinach and chicken, it’s usually called Saagwala Murg. THAT is amazing (usually dark meat).

    • Fitnessista on July 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      yes i love saag! and totally forgot to mention it

      • Ann on July 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm

        agreed! saag paneer is my favorite! and thanks for the recommendations!

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