5 Indian food myths busted!

Chilli paneer, paneer, Indian cheese, Indian food, roti, chapatti, achaar, pickle, chilli pickle


There are so many misconceptions out there about Indian food. Many of these stem from the belief that “all Indian food is the same”. So, I’m here to set the record straight! Even if you consider yourself a ‘curry afficionado’, I bet you will have been tricked by at least one of these…


1. Myth – Indian food is fattening, greasy and a food to turn to when you feel like over-indulging

greasy Indian takeaway

TRUTH – Traditional Indian food is your best friend when it comes to eating a healthy diet…

We’ve all seen it… that layer of orange oil that sits on top of the Indian takeaway dish. The one that you try and carefully spoon off to reduce your fat intake (and guilt). However, as the daughter of a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, I can tell you that this is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE of traditional Indian food!

Takeaway food is unhealthy, and that can be takeaway food of any kind, whether it’s Indian, Chinese, Italian, Spanish…the list could go on and on. However, traditional, authentic, home-cooked Indian food is not only delicious, but incredibly good for you.

Dishes such as dhal and roti (lentils and wholemeal flatbreads) are a staple of the Punjabi (North Indian) diet, plus that particular combination is nutritionally sound. A meal of dhal and roti contains a full set of amino acids. Amino acids are the proteins present in food that our bodies use to make new cells. There are many different types of amino acids, and when you eat lentils and wholemeal flatbreads together, they contain a complete set of amino acids.

Delicious food that your body will love…what more could you want!


2. Myth – All Indian food is really hot

Red chilies
TRUTH – The heat of a dish depends on the region from which it comes

As a general rule of thumb, the further North you go in India, the milder the dish, and the further South you go, the hotter the dish.

Northern India uses more of the fragrant spices, such as cumin seeds and green cardamom, as well as green chillies which provide more of a fresh heat. Southern Indian dishes tend to use spices with a flavour that is underpinned by heat, such as peppercorn and mustard seeds, they also tend to use red chillies which give a dry heat to dishes.


3. Myth – The dish ‘saag’ is made from spinach

Pure Punjabi meal prep Saag and Indian corn chapatti

TRUTH – ‘Saag’ is not spinach
The ingredient ‘saag’ (pronounced ‘sarg’) is actually mustard leaves, not spinach. During the 60’s and 70’s, there was an influx of Indians entering England (my grandparents arrived a little earlier in the 50’s). When they tried to get hold of mustard leaves, they found that is was not an ingredient that was available in England during that time. So, they had to adapt and look for the closest alternative, which was spinach (which I hate to say, was most readily available as tinned spinach at that time!). Hence the misconception that ‘saag’ is made from spinach.


4. Myth – You need to keep a vast range of spices to be able to cook Indian food

Masala dabba spices. Pure Punjabi Learn Cook Eat Meal Prep Box, Cookery School, E-learning, Weddings, Pop-up Restaurants and Privat Dining
TRUTH – You only need a few select spices to cook Indian food at home.

When you watch cookery programmes and see the presenter using, what seems like, over 10 different spices or spice blends, you say to yourself ‘why bother when I need to buy so many different ingredients’, and I completely agree with you. You shouldn’t have to buy numerous ingredients that you will only use every once in a while.

Don’t forget that India is a vast country, and each state/region has it’s own culinary identity (almost as though they are their own country). Each region uses different spices based on what is grown in that area and the taste preferences of the people of that region.

When you watch cookery programmes based in India, they usually travel across the whole country, meaning that, if you were to buy every spice they use along their travels, you would be endlessly adding to your spice rack. The truth is, in our family, we use 1 spice blend (garam masala), 3 spices for savoury food (cumin seeds, turmeric and paprika) and 3 spices for sweet food (green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon/cassia). If you only like savoury dishes and are happy to skip on sweet items, that comes to 4 items – that’s it! The best thing to do is pick a region within India, and cook dishes from that area. Then you will only need the spices used in that part of India.


5. Myth – Indian food is the same all over India

Map of India
TRUTH –  There is a HUGE difference in Indian food from state to state.

I touched on this briefly in myth 4…India is a huge country. It is 12 times larger than the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). If you think about the differences between the traditional food and drink produced in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s very clear to identity the differences.

They have their own gastronomic identity and style of cookery. Now, take the landmass of the UK and multiply that by 12…you would have an enormous amount of differences between each region. If you have been lucky enough to travel across India, whether that’s from North to South, West to East or all over, you will have noted the vast contrast in the food.

North Indian food is mainly plant based, as it is a landlocked area, with the perfect climate, soil and water supply for growing crops and tea. The food is heavily influenced by Persian and Afghani food (it’s historical neighbours) and the heat level is very low.

South Indian food features a lot of fish and seafood, as these are coastal areas.  Coconut is used in savoury and sweet dishes, and is used in all forms…coconut water, coconut milk, cream of coconut, coconut oil and fresh coconut. The food is very hot and fiery. The South also grows a lot of coffee. In fact, if you are ever in the region of Kerela, it is known for the quality of it’s coffee.

Learn how to make authentic North Indian food:See our cookery school

“It is quite possibly the best dhal I have ever encountered..”

Annabel Venning, Journalist, The Telegraph, eating our family recipe Masoor di dhal (red lentil) made with Pure Punjabi Garam Masala


Customer Reviews

Indian Meal kits, Dinner Kits & Gift Boxes

Customer Reviews

Karen Taylor October 2018

We are having such fun cooking from The Spice Pack Collection and all the dishes have come out brilliantly. The smell is divine and Rob, who is very fussy, is particularly impressed. All our visitors are wowed when they smell the box – we’ve been too possessive to share any with others, as yet!

As a natural therapist I particularly appreciate the healthy aspect of each dish, none of which compromise on taste. Good ingredients freshly cooked makes a big difference.

We’re going on holiday with three other couples in a couple of weeks and going to take the pack with us to cook some dishes together.

Maria M / BBQ Meal Kit Box customer

“We had a BBQ for family and friends few weeks ago and we made the Lamb Kebabs & Coconut & Sesame Chutney and Crushed Tikka New Potatoes & Mango Chicken… We received such rave reviews!! All so easy to make with the spices and sauces all provided for us…food was all delicious!”

Chris & Debs - dinner kit with cook-along customer

“That was so fun…

Thank you for the zoom meet up. That was so fun. We will definitely be up for another. Please send another suitable invite and kit. We are predominately veggies so used the butternut squash version. If this continue the local takeaway will suffer for sure. Again thanks”.

Carol R. dinner kit with cook-along customer

“What a wonderful cookalong…

…The Mango Chicken was delicious and my naan bread actually looked amazing – like the real thing. I feel so successful. Thank you. Looking forward to our next cookalong”.

Pam Brown – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Thank you so much both…

– the class was amazing and we both really enjoyed the food. It makes so much difference knowing exactly how to do things and that we can make such tasty food which is gluten free. Jeera rice has always been my favourite but many restaurants don’t have it on the menu”.

Sylvia M – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Thank you so much...
... for a great hour of cooking on Saturday evening. I enjoyed it very much as I have never done anything like it before. The Punjabi chicken was delicious and we had enough to freeze for another time”.

Sue W – dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Well that was amazing…
... the best curry I've ever had and Jxx said it was like being in India ( as he’s spent so much time there with work ) loved the class and so did Exxx looking forward to coming to your workshops…
…and will order some more kits from your website”

Roy P…dinner kit with cook-along customer

“Many thanks…
...for the cook–along workshop yesterday. It was very enjoyable and the meal tasted lovely. As someone who is not a confident cook it was ideal to follow your teaching. I have recommended this to a friend of mine who is very interested in joining the next cook–along. I will definitely be doing it again”.

Ellie Pipe

I highly recommend this lovely family run local company…

... We’ve enjoyed 2 of their meal kits now along with an online cook along to show us what to do. Thank you.

Diane McGillivray

I love them all and would highly recommend…

...If I had to choose one it would be the Mango chicken.