ABBAS ALI knows what it is to battle with a bulging waistline and he also knows what was to blame for his weight gain – a love of his own traditional tasty Asian cooking.
The 33-year-old curry chef, who works at the family takeaway business, B Medina in New Mill, was once two stones heavier than he is today.
He decided the time had come to shed the pounds when his wife Amna, joined a Weight Watchers class.
Because he works every evening until midnight or 1am, Abbas couldn’t attend slimming club meetings but shared Amna’s diet plans at home.
To lose weight he created low-fat, healthier options of his favourite curries and Asian dishes.
Abbas, who trained in Pakistan, said: "Asian food is normally quite high in fat because of the onions fried in ghee (butter fat) that make the base for curries so I make my own vegetable curry with less fat.
"You can still get plenty of flavour from using the spices, but it’s healthier."
Abbas also cooks lamb chops and chicken, spiced and marinated but prepared without additional oil, and low-fat kebabs served in dry-fried chapatis.
When local slimming club leader Sue Heyer, from Hepworth, who takes Weight Watchers classes in Shepley, Meltham and Marsden, discovered that Abbas was a fellow slimmer she asked him if he could make his healthier option specialities for her.
They went down so well that he’s now planning to launch a separate low-fat menu for slimmers which will include popular dishes such as chicken and spinach curry and chicken karai.
Sue, who is married with two daughters, said: "I wanted to be able to enjoy a takeaway with my family.
"Unfortunately, a lot of takeaways and fast food is really high in fat and not great for slimmers."
Her favourite healthy Indian dish is a portion of chicken tikka with boiled rice.
Abbas, who lives in Ainley Top, currently weighs in at 13½ stones and wants to lose another stone. He is now hoping that other takeaways will follow his lead and offer lower-fat options to customers who are watching their weight.
"It’s not difficult to adapt recipes," he says.
Sue agrees that it’s time more takeaways of all kinds provided healthier food: "I wish it would catch on because it’s very difficult for slimmers to try and find something out there that’s healthy. Takeaways and fast food places are all as bad as each other because of the high fat content of their foods.
"Weight Watchers have Pro Points system and allocate points to different foods. The average person would have about 26 points a day to use and a curry meal would be about 22, so it’s like using up your entire daily allowance in one go.
"Pizzas are also really bad. Just one large slice is nine Pro Points and a double cheeseburger is the same."
THE recommended daily food intake for the average person is around 2,000 calories and up to 65g of fat. To lose weight, however, this intake has to be reduced.
A 300g portion of chicken bhuna be can as much as 400 calories or more and contains 22g of fat. A creamy korma of the same size will be 500 or more calories with 30g of fat.
Indian starters are also high in fat. A single small onion bhaji has 65 calories and 3g of fat, a small vegetable samosa is 115 calories and contains 6g of fat.
Even the accompanying rice can be a slimmer’s nightmare. Pilau, or fried rice, has 135 calories in a 100g portion and 3g of fat.
A complete but fairly modest Indian meal (bought at a supermarket) of one samosa, two onions bhajis, small portion of chicken korma and pilau rice may be as much as 900 calories with 45g or more of fat. However, a real blow out at the takeaway can really pile on the pounds. According to Which? magazine an average Indian takeaway of chicken tikka masala, pilau rice and a plain naan contains a whopping 1,338 calories and 55g of fat.
Chinese food is thought of as healthier than other takeaways but, in fact, may be worse. A typical takeaway meal of sweet and sour chicken, egg fried rice and vegetable spring rolls contains a massive 1,400 calories and 60g of fat. Prawn crackers have 400 calories and 30g of fat in a portion.
Traditional British fish and chips is another no-no for slimmers. A large portion of battered cod and chips contains a massive 1,385 calories and 77g of fat, even a small portion contains 685 calories and 38g of fat.
Pizzas are probably the worst culprits for calorie and fat content but vary enormously depending on the quantity of meat and cheese layered on top. However, half a large, stuffed crust meat-covered pizza can be as much as 2,000