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Spice up your Weight Loss in National Curry Week

Added: (Wed Oct 17 2007)

Pressbox (Press Release) - National Curry Week (21-27 October) is great news for lovers of spicy food – but you might think it’s not such good news for dieters. However, with Slimming World’s unique and flexible Food Optimising programme, it’s possible to enjoy curry without piling on the pounds.

Sunil Vijakar, chef, food stylist and author of Slimming World’s “Curry Feast” book gives his inside tips on healthy Indian cooking: “Even though many restaurant and take-away curries are loaded with oil and ghee, there are many tantalising spices that can be used in tomato-based dishes, which are both healthy and appetising. Indian food encompasses a huge range of textures, tastes and flavours, thus making it perfect for cooking when you’re trying to lose weight. And it’s surprisingly easy to create healthier versions of your favourite curries at home. Healthy food can and should taste fantastic and excite the palate, so start experimenting – and make your meal times more exciting!”

Slimming World Consultant, Julie Thomas who runs groups in Coventry and Warwickshire said: “Before now, curry has been known as a bit of a guilty secret, but this book containing 120 recipes, shows readers how to prepare quick and easy meals including main dishes as well as potato and rice accompaniments and explains how these can be incorporated into Slimming World’s unique and flexible, Food Optimising programme.

“Food Optimising puts members in control and they are encouraged to eat plenty of basic everyday foods like pasta, potatoes, lean meat and fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables as well as healthy extras like wholemeal bread, cheese, nuts, olive oil and cereals.

“The book includes recipes for classic favourites such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korma and Beef Madras, as well as some tempting treats to try such as Masala Crab Cakes and Stuffed Aubergines with Spiced Lamb.

“When thinking about Indian food, it’s important to remember that it’s the spices that make the dishes what they are, not the oils used, so you can still have maximum taste and flavour, but be healthy as well.”

If you’re eating out, Julie has the following recommendations, “There are loads of ways to enjoy a Food Optimising feast when you’re at the local curry house. A great option is tandoori chicken, marinated in spices and yogurt or rice dishes such as biryani. Poppadoms are a better option than naan bread and some Indian dips, such as cucumber raita and mango chutney, are a tasty accompaniment that’s low in fat.”

Julie’s Slimming World groups run at Exhall Grange School, Ash Green on Wednesdays at 6pm and Lillington Primary School, Leamington Spa on Thursdays at 7pm. She will be opening a new daytime group in Kenilworth on Friday 2nd November at 10 am at the new Youth Centre. For more information telephone 01926 857558 or visit www.slimmingworld.com/slimwithjuliethomas


Onion Bhajis

Makes 12


200g/7oz onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
50g/2oz gram flour
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp deseeded and chopped fresh green chilli
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander leaf
¼ tsp baking powder
Fry Light
Pinch of paprika


1. Place the onions, gram flour, lemon juice, cumin, coriander seeds, green chilli, chopped coriander and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and add a few tablespoons of water to form a thick batter that coats the onion. Leave to rest for 15 minutes and then, using your fingers, mix again to combine thoroughly.
2. Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and using your fingers or a dessert spoon, drop small mounds of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet to give 12 bhajis.
3. Spray with Fry Light and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and serve immediately sprinkled with the paprika.

Classic Chicken Curry

Serves - 4


1kg/4oz chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into large pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fry Light
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp crushed cardamom seeds
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp mild or medium curry powder
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp turmeric
400g can chopped tomatoes
300ml/1/2 pt chicken stock made with Bovril
¼ tsp artificial sweetener
Freshly chopped coriander leaves
Sliced fresh green chillies


1. Place the chicken on a plate, season well and set aside.
2. Spray a frying pan with Fry Light and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes or until starting to lightly brown.
3. Stir in the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, curry powder, paprika and turmeric and stir-fry over a high heat for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until sealed, then add the tomatoes, stock and sweetener. Bring to the boil, cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer gently for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through.
5. Remove the frying pan from the heat, adjust the seasoning to taste and serve garnished with freshly chopped coriander and sliced green chillies.

Tandoori Lamb Kebabs

Serves 4


700g/1lb 8 oz neck fillet of lamb, all visible fat removed
2 tsp peeled and finely grated ginger
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp Tandoori Spice blend
200g/7oz very low fat natural yogurt
2 red peppers, halves and deseeded


1. Cut the lamb into bite-sized pieces and place in a mixing bowl
2. Mix together with ginger, garlic, Tandoori Spice blend and yogurt. Season with salt and pour over the lamb. Toss the lamb to coat completely, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight if time permits.
3. Cut the peppers into bite-sized pieces. Remove the lamb from the marinade and thread onto 12 skewers, alternating with the red pepper pieces. Grill under a medium-hot grill for 6-8 minutes in each side or until cooked through.

Curried Butternut Squash

Serves – 4


Fry Light
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dried red chilli, crushed
2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder) or 1 tbsp lemon juice if preferred


1. Spray a large non-stick frying pan with Fry Light and place over a high heat. Add the fenugreek seeds to the pan and stir-fry for 15-20 seconds.
2. Then add the turmeric, chilli, coriander seeds and the squash and stir-fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
3. Pour about 250ml/9fl oz of boiling water into the pan and bring all the ingredients to the boil. Then uncover and stir in the fennel, peppercorns and amchoor (or lemon juice) and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the squash is tender. Season well and serve.

Beef Kofta Curry
Serves - 4

700g/1lb 8oz extra-lean minced beef
2 tsp peeled and finely grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mild or medium chilli powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp medium curry powder
500ml carton passata
¼ tsp artificial sweetener

1. Place the minced beef in a mixing bowl along with the ginger, garlic, fennel, cinnamon and chilli powder. Season and, using your hands mix thoroughly until well combined. From the mixture into small, walnut-sized balls and set aside.
2. Place the turmeric, curry powder, passata and sweetener in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, season well and carefully place the meatballs in the sauce. Cover and cool gently for 15-20 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally, until they are cooked through.
3. Remove from the heat and serve drizzled with very low fat natural yogurt, sprinkled with a pinch of chilli powder and garnished with fresh mint leaves.

Submitted by:Julie Thomas
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