A mouthful of butter chicken and dal makhani cupped in a swatch of grilled garlic naan at your favourite Indian eatery could be described as 'heavenly' - or 'rich and fatty'. But the partially hydrogenated vegetable ghee (the cheaper alternative to asli ghee, which is made from cow's milk butter) commonly used in its preparation is loaded with trans-fat. For those who love the flavours and variety of Indian cuisine but would like to stay friends with our coronary arteries and waistline, are vegetarian Indian restaurants a healthier option? 'In Hong Kong, there are only two or three pure-vegetarian restaurants that I can think of,' says Vaneet Wadheri, chef at Babek, an innovative eatery on Elgin Street that serves tasting portions of meat and vegetable kebabs. 'And with those, you'll run into the same kind of heavy oils and fats you'd find at many non-veg places. When eating out, it's best to have smaller portions. Also, try to balance fatty meats with high-fibre vegetable dishes.' Health-conscious spice lovers may also consider cooking at home. 'Traditional home-cooked Indian vegetarian cuisine is probably the healthiest food you can eat,' says Mumbai native Zubin D'Souza, head chef at the Fringe Club. 'It is essentially lacto-vegetarianism, which ... is self-sustaining, and unlike veganism, you do not need supplements.' D'Souza has held a number of Indian cooking classes at the Fringe Club, including ones based on the healing properties of spices and low-oil cooking and inspired by the Kama Sutra. Cooking vegetarian Indian food is a great way to make use of a variety of fresh seasonal produce. 'Right now, we have lots of butter gourds, pumpkin and summer squash,' Wadheri says. 'We've got beans, cauliflower, peas, leafy greens like spinach - which you can stir fry with a bit of onion and cumin to make a simple cheese-less, cream-less version of a palak [spinach] dish. For summer, flavoured or plain lassis [a yogurt drink] are great for cooling us down from external and internal [from the spices eaten] heat. 'Building a basic Indian spice rack for the home is easy. I'd start with red chilli - for colour and heat, turmeric - an antiseptic that helps clean the stomach, cumin - which aids digestion and is linked to cancer-prevention, coriander powder - which has a cooling effect, and garam masala - a ground combination of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and peppercorn.' Speciality stores selling spices and Indian dried goods dot the city. D'Souza suggests the following: Indian Provision Store (34 Bowrington Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2891 8324), which also sells vegetables and homemade samosas; Kiran's Provision Store, (shop 60, 2/F, Mirador Mansion, 58 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2723 6781); and Maharaja Store (1/F, 6 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2756 5611).