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Calories: Tandoori Chicken vs Butter Chicken

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Last updated on: November 09, 2006 17:06 IST

Chicken is a great favourite with most of us. But depending on its cooking style, the chicken you eat may vary from healthy to sinfully high in calories.

Get Ahead fitness expert Samreedhi Sharma compares the calorie count of two popular chicken dishes: Tandoori Chicken and Butter Chicken.

Tandoori Chicken (one piece)

273 calories (7 gm fat*) = 22 minute climb up the stairs

Tandoori chicken is made by marinating chicken with yoghurt and assorted spices and then roasting it in a tandoor or an oven. The red colour added is edible food colour. Oil or butter is added to the marinade. Tandoori Chicken, if marinated long enough using fresh tender chicken is a good choice for dieters, since not much oil is used for roasting it in a tandoor. Choose chicken breasts as they have less fat compared to chicken legs.

If you are making it at home, make sure to de-skin the chicken as that helps to further reduce the fat content. Chicken is one of the best high quality protein choices for dieters. You can have Tandoori Chicken by itself or as an accompaniment with a soup and a salad, and it will be a complete meal.

The problem arises when chicken is cooked in an Indian or Mughlai style. It is loaded with oodles of fat since our recipes demand it. But with a little thought and a little ingredient manipulation it can be served tasty and low fat!
Butter Chicken (one big katori

391 calories (25 gm fat*) = 33 minute climb up the stairs

These figures are for a standard recipe. Tomato puree, a combination of various spices, cream, butter and sometimes nuts like cashew nuts are what goes into making butter chicken. There is absolutely no way to make this a low fat recipe without spoiling its original taste. So, it is wise to put this dish in the "have as rarely as possible" category for the weight conscious.

Most of the damage is done by the excess oil that goes into making it, combined with cream. Cream is mostly saturated fat, which is, again, not very heart friendly and to top that, we add butter as well.  

If you are making it at home, however, you can substitute the butter with olive oil, which is a healthier kind of fat and will not alter the taste too much either.
* depending on method of preparation.

Tips for dieters
There are times when you may not want to eat dinner out but the situation demands it and leaves you with a feeling of "I wish I could have avoided that meal." Here are some tips that will help you minimise the damage: 

  • Order a soup or a salad minus a high calorie dressing before the meal so that you eat lesser portions.
  • Talk to the chef/steward and find out about the least damaging (low fat content) options he can offer you.
  • Share your dessert with your friend or spouse instead of having it all.
  • If you are ordering drinks, stick to dry white wine, as it has the least number of calories.
  • Do not starve the whole day or the next day just because you had to have that high calorie meal. Starving will lower your metabolic rate and help fat storage instead of helping you lose weight!

-- The author is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. She runs Size Wise, a training studio, and also conducts fitness workshops. Besides training with the International Sports Science Association, USA, she has a PG Diploma in nutrition and food technology and writes for a number of publications. 

Do you have any recipes for low-cal food? Share them with us.

Samreedhi Goel