Gluten Free Indian Food

I love Indian food. There are so many tasty flavors- creamy, pungent, earthy. Bring me a dish of Mushroom Masala and I'll be in 7th heaven.

Which makes me so happy that there are multiple Indian recipes listed in the Curves Complete meal database. I made 2 of them this week, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed BOTH of them. I'll be sure to include them towards the end of this post, as you just HAVE to try them.

Ironically, there is a strange connection between India and Celiac Disease. I remember years ago when I was diagnosed, my mom was telling my gastroenterologist that my dad had non-tropical sprue. There is another disease called tropical sprue, whose symptoms mimic those of a celiac. It is a malabsorption disorder commonly found in the tropics. Per Wikipedia, it cites that tropical sprue is endemic to India and Southeast Asia. But unlike celiac disease, tropical sprue is not an autoimmune disease, and it is thought to be caused by an infection, although a definite cause is not nailed down.
And because of this, actually diagnosing celiac patients is a little bit harder. In research published 2 years ago, it is believed that the prevalence of celiac disease is 1 in 96.

But one of the greatest things about Indian cuisine is it is generally safe for celiacs. Most dishes are made with rice, chickpea and lentil flours.  
There are some great resources out there for those looking for guidance eating a gluten free Indian dinner, be it here in the United States or in India itself. If you find yourself traveling to the magical land of the Taj Mahal, check out the blog post on the Celiac Chick blog. This blog post highlights the differences between Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, and mentions dishes that are generally safe. Papadums, wafers made from lentil flour, are a great gluten free bread item to replace the traditional naan that is often served with Indian meals.

Triumph Dining helps with gluten free dining in two ways The first is a short list about Indian food in their Guide to Gluten Free Ethnic Dining. They highlight dishes like Chicken Tikka, Chole, and Aloo Mattar. They also sell dining cards for Indian foods and other cuisines as well, that have gluten free guidelines in native languages of other cultures. I believe if you check the Android Market you can find individual ones, or you can go to Triumph Dining's website and order all ten. For me, I have asked many questions at our local Flint restaurant, Grill of India, and have never had issues when eating there. 

So are you ready to try some Indian cooking on your own? My first suggestion: Find an Indian market and purchase some Garam Masala. This is a spice that is incorporated in many Indian dishes. Plus, you should buy your spices from Indian markets anyway. They are TONS cheaper.

The first recipe I made last week was Chickpea Stew, which I believe is very close to the Indian Chole. As always, my stomach growled louder than my brain could think to take a picture first. Here's the recipe from Curves Complete, and you can compare it to the aforementioned link to chole and compare. As always, the recipe is for 1. 

1/4 red onion, minced
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
7 oz. cooked chickpeas
3 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
3/4 tbsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 tbsp. dry quinoa or rice
parsley for garnish

Dice onions and mince garlic. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat then add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Sprinkle cumin on top of the onion mixture and stir. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, thyme, honey, lemon juice, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Prepare quinoa/rice separately and serve the chickpea stew on top of the quinoa/rice. Sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley.

The other dish that I made this week was Keema Mattar, also known as Minced Meat with Peas. [Mattar is the Indian word for peas.] I cheated a bit, as I used ground beef instead of chopped meat, and butter instead of ghee. [Ghee is clarified butter.]

 1/2 tbsp(s) ghee
 1/4 onion(s) - medium
 1/8 tsp(s) ginger- fresh
 1/4 tsp(s) turmeric
 1/8 tsp(s) chili powder
 4 oz beef - minced (95% lean)
 2 tbsp(s) yogurt - nonfat light
 1/4 cup(s) peas - green
 1/4 tsp(s) garam masala
 1/4 tsp(s) salt
 1/2 tbsp(s) cilantro - fresh
 1/4 pepper(s) - red chile
 2 tbsp(s) rice - brown (dry)
 1/2 garlic clove(s)

1. Finely slice onion, mince garlic, and grate fresh ginger. Heat ghee and saute onion until soft. Add garlic and ginger and saute until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add turmeric and chilli powder and stir for a few seconds, then add meat and cook, turning meat constantly until colour changes. Break up any large lumps of meat.
3. Stir in the yogurt and peas; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add garam masala and continue cooking until meat and peas are tender, about 5-10 more minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook brown rice according to package instructions. Finely chop fresh cilantro and slice red chili pepper, set aside.
6. Serve meat and peas garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves and finely sliced red chili pepper. Serve with brown rice. Enjoy!