When I first started on the autoimmune protocol (which did wonders in clearing up my psoriasis by the way) I had to give up nightshades, seeds, and nightshade and seed spices. I also had to give up dairy, eggs, nuts, most cooking oils, and black pepper. I wasn’t even allowed white rice. Basically, I had to give up curry night.
I LOVED curry. A spicy aromatic Balti with piles of doughy naan, crispy poppadoms, and fluffy pilau rice was one of my Friday night rituals. If not that then a mellow Korma would do just fine, if I wanted something creamier and more mild. I missed it. A lot. But I later realised that it wasn’t all that bread, poppadoms, or rice that I was craving. It was the fragrant aromatic flavours. And so I set to work trying to recreate them without any of the foods you’re not allowed to have on the elimination stage of AIP.
… it’s all made in one pan so there’s no washing up, you can pack in a load of veggies (high five to that), and it’s ready in about 15 minutes…
The first thing anyone usually does when they start AIP is panic at the long list of spices they’re supposed to avoid and then just sigh and hobble off back into the kitchen to make another pan of cabbage soup. But then you start to see the spices you CAN enjoy. OK so chillies and tomatoes are out but you can make a pretty good substitute for tomato sauce using beetroot and carrots – otherwise known as ‘no-mato sauce’. Onion and garlic are safe so you can still use them – and fresh ginger, which lifts the flavour of a curry and adds a bit of tingly spice.
I’m not going to lie – you’re not going to be cooking up spicy Vindaloo-style curries on AIP because you can’t eat chillies or chilli powder. So you concentrate on the other aromatic flavours instead. Thai curries with coconut milk, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and coriander leaves. Indian curries made using no-mato sauce, cloves, and cinnamon.
This is one of my favourite curry dishes now and I’ve even had it for breakfast to revive me out of my grogginess on a Sunday morning. It wins on so many levels – it’s all made in one pan so there’s no washing up, you can pack in a load of veggies (high five to that), and it’s ready in about 15 minutes so ideal for a quick dinner in the week. It also has a rich fragrance to it so you don’t have to miss curry night any more.
- 400g lamb mince
- 3 blocks frozen spinach (or a couple of big handfuls of fresh)
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- Thick slice (about the size of your thumb) fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Half teaspoon dried coriander leaf
- Small pinch cinnamon
- Very small pinch of ground cloves
- Salt, to taste
- First heat the mince in a large frying pan and stir-fry until just browned. You shouldn't need any cooking oil but if you do find it a bit too dry add a teaspoon of mild coconut oil or avocado oil. Once the lamb looks as if it's almost cooked add the chopped sweet potato pieces and stir to combine them evenly.
- Next, drop in the blocks of frozen spinach and the onion. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the spinach has defrosted and softened and the sweet potato pieces are starting to become tender.
- Finely grate the garlic and ginger straight into the pan and stir in the turmeric, dried coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Turn down the heat slightly and allow everything to simmer and sizzle together for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables and the lamb are both fully cooked and just beginning to turn a bit crisp around the edges. If you find it looks a bit too dry add a splash of water from the kettle to add some moisture. Have a taste and season with salt if you think it needs it. Serve straight away in bowls and scatter with fresh coriander leaves if you have some handy.