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I have good (GREAT) news.
An AIP (seed-free, nut-free, dairy-free and nightshade-free) curry is totally doable, providing you get used to working with a few AIP-complaint herbs and spices, and get to know how to blend them. I spent 18 months doing exactly this, when I wrote my latest ebook, SPICE. I developed authentic-tasting Lamb Dopiaza. Parsnip Saag Aloo. Palak Bhaji. Dairy-free Mango Lassi. Coriander and Garlic Naan. Chai ice pops. This year I even made an AIP compliant Chicken Tikka Masala. But they didn't happen overnight and they weren't easy to make. Each curry has its own different blend of spices, vegetables and herbs - otherwise they'd all taste the same, right? This is why it took me so long to develop them all.
So, I worked on AIP curries for over 18 months. I got to know all the spice blends. The tricks to make your curry taste authentic without seeds, nuts and nightshades. And I'm still learning now.
Please trust me when I say that you don't have to give up your curry night just because you're on the Autoimmune Protocol.
Your AIP Curry Storecupboard Basics
If you're going to start making curries, you'll need to get your hands on a few bits and pieces from the shops to keep in your cupboards should a curry craving strike. And it strikes me quite often.
One of the most important is turmeric. I buy this in a large bag (because I get through it so quickly). Turmeric gives dishes a beautiful earthy, sweet fragrance as well as a bold, golden colour.
Also, grab yourself some dried coriander (cilantro) leaves. Not only are these handy for a bit of greenery when you don't have any fresh leaves available, they have a very different flavour to the fresh stuff. Kind of citrussy and earthy. I love to add it to my Indian style marinades.
You'll also need ground cloves - only ever use a small amount of this in each dish, or your curry will taste too powerful and you won't get the blend right. Add ground cinnamon to your shopping list, too - which gives sweetness and warmth - and some ground ginger, which lifts the other deep, warmth giving flavours.
Other AIP curry must haves are onions and garlic. I found that, cooked correctly, these help bring out the deep, rich flavours that seed spices like coriander and cumin give to a dish. You'll also want a lemon or two handy to serve with or to balance all those other flavours, along with a pinch of salt.
To make your sauce, don't forget coconut milk, for a rich, creamy texture. Or you might want to spice up a no-mato sauce and use that, instead. Coconut yoghurt is great for marinades and for thickening up a curry, too - just stir in a tablespoon or two towards the end of cooking.
Remember though, that AIP is just an elimination diet and isn't for forever. One of the first things you can try and reintroduce is seeds and seed spices - if you can tolerate seeds, you can start adding cumin, ground coriander and cardamom pods into your curries. This will give you a deeper, richer flavour profile. Nightshades such as paprika, tomatoes and chillies are one of the last foods you should try and reintroduce. I started AIP three years ago and I still can't tolerate nightshades beyond a tiny pinch of paprika.
AIP Curry Recipes to Try
To give you examples, here are a few of my absolute favourite AIP compliant curries. I love all of these. They all have different flavour profiles, showing you that you can create quite a wide range of curries on AIP.
And if you want to find out more about AIP spice blends and how to make a great curry (and other dishes) on the autoimmune protocol, have a look at my ebook SPICE, which has lots of Indian, Thai and Chinese inspired recipes. There's even a dish inspired by the food of the ancient Egyptians, in there too. And all the 90+ recipes are AIP compliant.
Curry Night is ON.
AIP Turkey Tikka
Here's an example of a dry curry dish - Tikka dishes are usually marinated and then grilled or baked at a high heat, sealing in all those flavours. I love this with a squeeze of lemon to finish it off. The marinade is creamy, sweet and aromatic with the flavours of turmeric, garlic and ginger. You could make it with seafood, fish or chicken if you prefer.
Thai-Inspired Turkey Meatball Curry
One of my favourites because there is so much going on with this curry, from the first taste. There's the sweetness of fresh basil, the tangy sharpness of lime and lemongrass, fresh coriander (cilantro) along with creamy coconut milk. It's one of my most popular recipes - it's been pinned over 10,000 times. And yes, I know it's turkey again, but this would be great with seafood (I'm drooling now about it being made with roasted, shell-on prawns - oh my days), chicken, pork or beef. Try thin strips of rump steak seared and then served with the sauce.
AIP Spinach and Mutton Curry
A different curry, this one, because it has a deeper flavour profile than the other two above. But it wasn't the richest one, that's coming later down the list. I experimented a bit more with onions, as to how I could bring out their flavour and add a deeper colour to the sauce. Oh, and I topped it with even more onions, because it was lush. Mutton is just meat from a sheep, rather than a young lamb, so it needs long cooking to make it tender. If you can't get mutton (do try it, it has a very rich, meatier flavour) then make this with lamb shoulder or leg pieces.
AIP King Prawn Curry
A completely different flavour profile to the other curries, because I wanted to get away from all the meat and develop something citrussy for seafood. I also wanted to create the illusion of a tomato-based curry without any nightshades. And it worked so well. This is one of my favourite curries - it doesn't need long, slow cooking so it can be ready on a busy weeknight - and the lemon in the sauce makes it a light option, too. I've had a lot of great reaction from this recipe on Instagram - and it was guest posted on The Paleo Mom, too. Try it.
AIP Lamb Keema Curry
I cook this quite regularly at home, because it's really convenient for a busy weeknight dinner, or lunch. A Keema is a fairly dryish curry, made from minced meat - in this case, lamb - which makes it economical too. You might even have most of the things you need to make this in your fridge already. You can eat it as it is, straight out of the bowl, or serve with my AIP naan breads to scoop it all up. This was a recipe I wrote for Primal Eye Magazine. Get it here.
One of my all-time favourites. You don't even realise you're eating a nightshade-free curry, thanks to the rich, thick and spiced tomato-ish sauce (there are no tomatoes in it). The lamb cooks down until meltingly tender, too. Dopiaza curries are made with double the onions - they're in the sauce and also sliced and used as a topping, so I've done the same here. Beautiful. Get the recipe in my ebook SPICE.
Red Thai Vegetable Curry
Another recipe created especially for SPICE. I loved the Thai Green curry (see turkey meatballs, above) but always wondered how to make a Red Thai equivalent. And could I get it to taste different and authentic, too? The answer is yes, definitely! I took the same aromatics that went in to the green curry paste - basil, coriander/cilantro, lemongrass, lime - but added beetroot to the mixture to make it seem red. It needed further tweaking - and the end result was a nightshade-free red Thai curry that tasted weirdly authentic. Sweet, creamy, fresh, citrussy... I loved it. This recipe is a vegetable curry but you could make it with chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey or seafood. Get the recipe here.
Have you made any of the curries here? Tweet me @joromerofood or tag me in if you share on Instagram or Facebook. I always love to see your creations!