As many people know, I LOVE protein. I think most people don't eat enough of it, especially vegetarians. I'm not totally on the super-low-carb-bandwagon yet, but I do think making sure your entire diet doesn't consist of idlies for breakfast, aloo gobi and rice for lunch, and biryani for dinner every day is important....
.... even though that sounds like a pretty delicious day to me, admittedly....
Anyway... I love my protein sources. The only food I do miss in India are those jam-packed protein powerhouses... such as:
It's possible that, like most food I've looked for here, all of these are available and I just don't know where to look. If anyone knows where to find them PLEASE tell me! I will make you a pie!
Anyway, I do love me some dal (lentils) and rajma (beans) but I often find myself coming up short in protein at the end of the day.
One day I saw massive packages of protein powder- very similar to the ones found in the US- you know... the ones that are only about 1/3 of the way full for whatever reason. (It's not like a bag of potato chips, people... you do not need that much air to package protein powder).
So I took a gamble and bought some "British Nutritions Whey Platinum Standard."
Unfortunately, I've been told by a local trainer and several other people here that British Nutritions is - of course- actually an Indian brand and that protein powder produced in India is unregulated and therefore fake. Completely useless. I don't know how true that is, but hearing it multiple times certainly casts enough doubt on protein powder purchased in here... enough for me to not do it again.
I did have to break down though and try these bad boys. WORK-OUT BARS! I found them at Qmart.
It claims to be a high source of protein, but upon further inspection, it's only 10 grams of protein for a 200-calorie bar. I don't know if I would consider that a high source of protein. I'd rather eat a couple of eggs.
So I searched extensively for what most people agree is the best source of isolated whey protein- Optimum Nutrition. The cost: 3000 Rs for 1 bottle ($65 for 2 lbs).
NO THANK YOU.
So I broke down and bought some on Amazon for less than half the price. And it arrived and I'm so happy.
But as much as I do love protein powder as a great supplement on days I fall short on protein intake, nothing, nothing, nothing beats whole, natural protein sources. It's extraordinarily easy to get lots of protein if you're non-veg in India. It's doable if you're veg, you just have to be a bit more conscientious!
One of my favorite favorite foods: EGGS! Quiche, scrambled, over easy, you name it. I love frying them sunny side up over easy and putting them on top of a cabbage salad so the yolk makes a dressing of sorts. Delicious. They are !ncredible, edible eggs.
Whole grains and alternative flours can be a GREAT source of protein, and I've been totally surprised at the variety available in India!
Some of the most interesting are:
Jawari (Eng: Sorghum)
Bajra (Eng: Pearl Millet)
Besam flour (Eng: Soybean flour)
Rawa (Eng: Semolina)
I still have TONS of more grains and non-wheat flours to explore. One of my favorite places is the grains room in Balaji Grand Bazaar on Rd 1. They have rows and rows of dried goods, from nuts to grains to nut flours to rice varieties and more. It's incredible.
Sometimes I just pick up a bag of something whose name I don't recognize and bring it home to google. Then I have to figure out what to do with it before the pantry moths break into the bag and get to it. Makes for some nice challenges.
And the BEST and CHEAPEST source of protein for vegetarians......
LENTILS ANS BEANS. Chole, dal makhani, urad dal, red rajma... I never thought I could love lentils and beans like I do now. If you think beans are boring or don't think you like them, try them Indian-style. Indians know how to make darn good dishes with these guys.