Three healthy south Asian recipes

When NHS Choices held a healthy recipe competition, the residents of Tower Hamlets in London came up with some great ideas. Here are the winners – with comments from nutritionist Azmina Govindji of the Ismaili Nutrition Centre.

The winning recipes were:

Turkey kebabs

by Mrs Corpul Hashim

  • Serves 3-4
  • Time: 1 hour to marinate and 10-12 minutes to cook


  • 60ml (2 fl oz) light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 675g/1½lb skinless and boneless turkey breasts, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 240ml (8 fl oz) low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 1 large courgette, cut into 2.5cm slices
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons mint, chopped


1. Combine the soy sauce, oil, garlic, ginger and chilli.
2. Add the turkey pieces and toss to coat.
3. Cover and leave to marinate for one hour.
4. Thread the turkey, pepper and courgette on to the skewers and brush with any leftover marinade.
5. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
6. Mix together the yoghurt, mint and cumin and serve alongside.

Dietitian Azmina says:

"This winning recipe has lots of plus points. Firstly it uses turkey, which is a low-fat meat, and it’s skinless so is low in saturated fat. It is marinated in low-fat yoghurt and spices. And then you get chunky vegetables in between each cube of turkey, helping you towards your 5 A DAY. It uses no added salt, but there is some salt from the soy sauce – you could try making it with reduced salt soy sauce." 


Red lentil dhal with chickpeas

by Ruzi Khatun

  • Serves 4
  • Time: 30-35 minutes (plus 10 minutes to soak the lentils)


  • 220g/8oz red lentils (soaked for 10 minutes)
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 500ml/17 fl oz hot water
  • chopped green chillies, as desired
  • pinch of salt


1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and heat gently until brown.
2. Add the chopped onion and heat until brown.
3. Add the salt, turmeric and cumin powder and cook for one minute on a low heat.
4. Add the red lentils and stir well. Add a squeeze of lemon, mix and then gradually add the water.
5. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
6. Add the chickpeas, chillies (if using) and cover and cook for another five minutes.
7. Check the lentils are cooked and bring to the boil quickly for two minutes and stir.
8. Garnish with coriander and serve with wholemeal chapati or some boiled brown rice.

Dietitian Azmina says:

Dhal is considered a healthy dish, but what’s extra special about this one is that it has added goodness from the chickpeas. And unlike traditional recipes, it only uses a tablespoon of oil with a pinch of salt.


Paprika chicken with rice

by Mrs Aflu Begum

  • Serves 4
  • Time: 40-45 minutes


  • 6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 200g/7oz frozen peas
  • 200g/7oz long grain rice
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 400ml/13½ fl oz hot chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a little salt and pepper


1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan.
2. Cook the chicken until lightly browned, turning the pieces over (you may need to do this in two batches).
3. Remove the chicken, add the remaining oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft.
4. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly for five minutes.
5. Add the stock, peas, tomatoes, paprika and seasoning. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat.
6. Place the chicken on top of the rice, cover with a lid or foil and simmer over a low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through (when the chicken is cooked through, the juices are clear and there is no pink meat visible).

Dietitian Azmina says:

Here you have your curry and rice all in one dish so it’s quick, easy and there’s less washing-up to do! The peas and tomatoes provide fibre and nutrients, and the chicken thighs are skinless so are low in saturated fat. Use chicken breast if you want to get the fat content even lower.

Find out more about healthy eating

Page last reviewed: 15/07/2014

Next review due: 15/07/2016


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Eating well on a budget

In this video, dietitian Azmina Govindji gives advice on how to eat healthily on a budget.

Media last reviewed: 27/04/2015

Next review due: 27/04/2017

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