Friday, February 17, 2012

Sludge? Or Palak Murgh?

That's what I was wondering when I saw this.

(Picture links broken, I will be back to fix them ASAP.)

Those are both pictures of spinach chicken (aka Palak Murgh) we ordered from a local take out place. I've been to this place a lot and normally there food is very  good. That dark liquid you see on the top of the food is the oil that is obviously not blended with the food. In cooking this is known as separation.

Not only is this the oil I can't eat because it makes me sick and burns my throat, it's also gross. I can't imagine someone looking at that and thinking it's appetizing. I see this a lot here though. Not in food I order because I'm super picky after being sick so much but I see other people eat it. To me it looks disgusting with all that oil. I also see this in the food people serve at home. I haven't seen this much oil in MIL's food but here tends to have too much water in it. (Not good, but still much healthier than oil.)

It's like no one realizes that they are:
  • wasting oil
  • clogging their arteries and waging war on their heart
  • eating food that has had the vitamins burned out of it
I spooned some of this out of the bowl for hubby and even though I avoided oil as much as possible it kept seeping out of his food. Of course all that oil gets absorbed by the roti or naan and then you consume it if you try to eat this mess.

To make it even more gross, the oil that had leaked out of the container also seeped through the 2 layers of paper bag and the 4 layers of newspaper we had it sitting on and soiled the bed sheets and mattresses. This is why Mumbai has now launched a campaign in their newspapers to teach people how to eat healthy.

It can no longer be ignored that all this oil and sugar and unhealthy food that is permeating the Indian lifestyle is causing serious health problems and an obesity epidemic.

Here's some articles I found interesting:
Hindustan Times: Urban Indians have unhealthy diet: Experts
The Times of India: Cut the junk for healthy adult life
The Times of India: Unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet can make you prone to TB

And some good articles to help you find healthier Indian foods:
Times of India: Health facts about Indian foods
Indian Foods: AAPI's Guide to Health, Nutrition and Diabetes


  1. That is so revolting. And where is the palak? Ugh. 

  2. That's great that you are providing helpful links for people to have a look at. I get sick when I eat foods with that much oil.

  3. There is a theory (with large grains of truth if you ask me) that such food is an innovation from the time of partition. The punjabi refugees who came into India were desperate to open new businesses and whenever such desperation exists, food business is the safest bet. So we had scores of eateries run by punjabi refugees all over India. 

    In these eateries, labor/money was in short supply and there was a dire need to invent strategies which prolong the shelf life of cooked food at least throughout the day. immersing the food in a pool of oil/ghee is one of the ways. entire menus have been invented by punjabis and cuisines have been concocted based on such contingencies. you may find it hard to believe that the popular dish "Dal Makhani" is a 1947 creation with almost no history before it. And we also know the place where it was created - Moti Mahal of Delhi. The ITC Bukhara also improvised it and it spread all over India as something authentic Punjabi food. Compliment the Punjabi zest for christening as "cuisine" to something "im promptu".

    Same considerations apply to much of what goes in the name of Punjabi food. The way these dishes are cooked only tells me that these are mostly Mughal/Lucknawi/Awadhi/ (or in general UP based) dishes with the above Punjabi-refugee improvisation of oiling it up. 

    For something different and of authentically different taste try something Kolhapuri or Chettinand or Andhra or Gomantak or Gujarati (or even authentic Lucknwai). I am not sure if these would be in Amritsar, but one thing you may try is Marwari. They have eateries called "Marwari Basa" all over (north) India. I particularly like the "missi roti" in these Basas.

  4. The famous Indian cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty states than Indians are 3 times more likely than any other nationality to develop heart disease.

    Dr Shetty also defines a 'heart healthy diet' – 'Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil, Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.'

    NO potatoes are NOT a vegetable, they are a simple carbohydrate(the worst kind) like white rice.

    Dr Shetty defines the term 'junk food'- .'Fried food like Kentucky, McDonalds, samosas, and even masala dosas.'

    Check it out-

  5. Ewwwwwww Congrats you probably found the most disgusting looking food in India, I've never seen something with that much oil in it. I'm not a fan of spinach (ok I HATE spinach) but isn't palak supposed to look...hum...GREEN??? It seems they overcooked it so much it's no longer there!

    It's when you look at such oily disaster that you start wondering why on earth some Indians pronounce their food the healthiest in the world and claim all foreigners only eat junk food :(

    My maid tend to use a bit too much oil in her cooking, we constantly remind her not to use that much, anyway it's DH eating that stuff, not me.

  6.  Sharell sorry I laughed reading your comment, because I wondered the same thing "Where the hell is the palak in that dish" :)

  7. Oh, that's the rough looking stuff under the oil. It's been cooked down to complete mush and was brown, not green. No nutritional value left - guaranteed! Now you guys see why I hate the food here so much lol. Who could eat that and live to see their golden years?

  8. Yeah, it's way too much. And it's not even one of the healthier oils. A lot of places used the refined oils that were recently linked to cancer. Now you know why I pay the extra money to go to the expensive restaurants lol. It's like a life or death situation just to have a decent meal here.

  9. That makes perfect sense. I studied once that oil was used as a preservative in old days in other countries as well. However, in those cases the oil was preserving whole foods that hadn't been cooked down like this. Things like fresh fruits, tomatoes, onions, etc. Then the oil was considered "infused" with the flavor once the items were removed and was used as a cooking oil for other dishes. I had never thought of it being applied to foods like this. I still can't eat it though. Just looking at it makes me not hungry anymore lol.

  10. This is the kind of food I see daily here! I didn't have to hunt for this, it's just the first time I've dared take a good picture of it. So many foods here are swimming in grease like that and hardly anything has the actual color of the food that's in it. Everything is yellow, orange or brown depending on the spices. They cook everything till there's nothing nutritious left. It's sad. It's no wonder I frequently skip meals and refuse to eat hardly any Indian foods (because I still like the tandoor lol...and I order anything I do eat 'dry' to make sure there's not so much oil.).

  11. Thanks for the link! People in the neighborhood are always asking how I've lost so much weight and how they can lose it too but none of them are willing to lessen the oil in the foods or eat the fruits and veggies. I did get lucky with MIL and FIL. She listens to FIL and he insists on "Kristy's" salad almost every day. I make mine different than theirs and he loves it. It's done wonders for his health just adding that in. He's even started exercising more and he lost weight too. It wouldn't take much but from what I see most of them refuse to give up the oil and junky foods they consume.

  12. Oh well ! Junk food is not stuff like you say. Calling easily available food as junk food smacks of prissiness. Junk food really means (or at least should mean) eating over and above your required diet ... whether you eat avocados, flaxseed oil, salmon, tuna or KFC/McD/kwality-waalls/etc doesn't matter. 

    Once that aspect is internalized, then comes the next level of "adjustment" ie tinkering with food combination. And that means avoid too much oil .. fried stuff and all. Too much protein also isn't going to do wonders for the body. Every meal shd be a combination of protein, carbs, fat and green leafy vegetables. and oh yes ! raw sugar should be avoided as much as possible. [but I love those sweets ... OK I will eat them once a fortnight]

    But it is crazy to do the second level "adjustment" before doing the first level adjustment. Any type of food which is more than required will end up as stored fat ... no matter what any expert proclaims.

    But even before that there is a "zero level adjustment" ... a lifestyle adjustment ... ie a life of activity. without it, all would be in vain.

  13. maybe i typed the above comment too early ... but it was aimed at Bibi anyway. :D

  14. True ! Just in case I am misunderstood, I was not defending the type of food you are talking about.

  15. magguu-

    You wrote & I quote-'Oh well ! Junk food is not stuff like you say. Calling easily available
    food as junk food smacks of prissiness. Junk food really means (or at
    least should mean) eating over and above your required diet ... whether
    you eat avocados, flaxseed oil, salmon, tuna or
    KFC/McD/kwality-waalls/etc doesn't matter.'

    Ummmmmm.......Do you realize you are disputing the cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty NOT Bibi?

    Do you really mean this?

    'Junk food really means (or at
    least should mean) eating over and above your required diet'

    NO that is NOT correct.
    'Junk food' means foods with high calories & little nutritional value- few vitamins( E, A, D, K, B, C) & few micronutrients(iron, iodine, zinc, magnesium etc) & little protein.
    There are lots of overweight Indians who are undernourished due to an imbalanced diet, they may take in excessive calories but not enough micronutrients, vitamins nor protein.

    Why is it so hard for Indians to grasp that a starch & oil based diet is not healthy?
    BALANCE is the key.

  16. That is unbelievable! So much oil! I once had a cook, who used to find it funny that I wanted no more than a tsp oil in each dish. She claimed that only the poorest of the poor would eat 'bland' food like that. Apparently, they needed a layer of oil over their food. Seeing this, now I understand what she meant!

  17. Well, with your old cooks reasoning then I must be the most dirt poor person in the world with the way I avoid oil lol. I can't imagine why anyone would want to taste so much oil (like what's in the food pictured).