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A Single Takeaway Curry Has Enough Calories for Two People

New research from Ulster University has found that your lazy Friday night fave of chicken korma and pilau rice contains enough calories for two adults and over the recommended daily amount of fat.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
November 18, 2015, 11:00am

There are two schools of thought when it comes to ordering in.

The first is championed by peace-keeping mums and that friend who takes 20 minutes to decide which jumper she feels like wearing. "Let's just get a nice variety of stuff," these people will tell you, "and put it all in the middle to share." Next thing you know, you're playing fork wars over cashew nut stir fry and the vegetarians are angry because someone ate all the spring rolls.


The second approach to takeaways allows for no such confusion, via strict instigation of the eat-only-what-you-order rule. I'll get my special beef pho and there will be no wandering spoons when you realise you didn't really fancy the lemongrass salad after all. It's a system and, as any self-respecting food lover will tell you, it works.

READ MORE: Eating Indian Food Could Cure Your Winter Cold

But according to new research from the University of Ulster, we should be more like those prawn cracker-pinching share-and-share-alikers when reaching for the JustEat app.

Released by Irish health watchdog Safefood, the study analysed 280 Indian food samples from 36 restaurants in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ulster researchers found that the average portion of tikka masala contained 1,249 calories, while certain varieties of naan bread contained 748. Starters tested, including chicken pakora and the beloved onion bhaji were also found to contain one third of an adult's total recommended daily amount of salt.

Servings of pilau rice were also revealed to be enough for two people and some curry samples had as much as 168 percent of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat. Safeway even went so far as to describe eating a peshwari naan—usually filled with fruit and nuts—as like having a slice of cake, due to the high amount of energy and fat.

Depressingly, this means that your lazy Friday night fave of chicken korma, pilau rice, and a couple of bhaji is probably enough to feed two adults, as well as having over the required daily amount of fat and salt.


Researcher Ruth Price, who carried out the study, offers little in the way of comfort. She said: "Our advice is not that consumers should avoid these takeaway foods but rather consider consuming them less often and in moderation by either choosing smaller portions, sharing portions, or limiting the added extras such as starters and side orders."

A samosa isn't an "added extra," Ruth, it's a parcel of spiced deliciousness and the grease-smothered crown jewel of any Indian takeaway.

READ MORE: There's a Scientific Reason Why Indian Food Is So Delicious

While traditional and home-cooked Indian dishes rely on fresh vegetables and spices that can have medicinal properties, the butter-packed korma seeping out of those tinfoil containers is a whole different story.

Safefood director of human health and nutrition Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan explained: "While traditional meals in India are low in fat, high in fibre, and rich in fruit and vegetables, chefs here have adapted their recipes to suit local taste buds favouring foods high in fat and salt and serving bigger portions. These dishes have become very popular but the Indian dishes tested in this survey were less than healthy."

But who says you have to order in to get your Indian food fix? Cristal cocktail shrimp saffron curry is just as decadent as your local curry house's special biryani and best of all, if you make it all yourself, you don't have to share a mouthful.