There’s no question that curry powder is the key ingredient in making a spicy, aromatic, and delicious bowl of coconut curry or spicy meat curry that is as equally perfect for a solo weeknight dinner as it is for a weekend family lunch.
Curry powder is made by blending a variety of spices together, such as cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel seeds, and much more. And because all the ingredients that make curry powder are blended together, it can be difficult to know whether your curry powder is gluten-free.
Does south Asian curry have gluten?
As far as the spices used in curry powder are concerned, it is safe to say that these spices are naturally gluten-free. So if you’re worried about gluten content in your homemade curry, you can rest assured that all your curry spices are safe to use.
However, the above scenario only relates to fresh, homemade curry powders. If you’re buying mass-produced curry powders from the grocery store, it’s worth noting that some companies use some flour in their curry powders to ensure that they don’t clump up together while on store shelves.
Additionally, some manufacturers produce curry powder in the same factories that handle wheat and grain products. This can result in cross-contamination which is not ideal for those who are on a strictly gluten-free diet.
What spices are in south Asia?
Curry powders consist of an orchestra of spices that all work together to produce a delicious dish that works equally well with both meat and vegetables. Though the mix of spices usually varies from chef to chef, here are some of the basic spices that you need to make a curry powder from scratch.
- Coriander seed
Coriander seeds are rich in copper, zinc, and iron, which increases red blood cells and regulates cholesterol levels in the body. It imparts a floral, fresh, and citrusy taste to curry powders.
Turmeric is probably the most important spice, used in almost all curry powders. It adds bitterness and peppery, musky characteristics that impart a rich and bold taste to a curry dish. It also has a remarkable orange-brown color that makes your curry look as good as it tastes.
- Ground Cinnamon
Cinnamon has a sweet and woody flavor that is slightly citrusy and has a hint of spice. When used in curry powders, cinnamon creates a sweet-spicy punch that elevates other flavor profiles of all the other ingredients it’s paired with.
- Ground Chilli
Curries are known for spice, and ground chilies are the easiest way to spice up your curries without imparting any other flavor profiles that might overpower the entire mixture.
- Ground Mustard Seed
Mustard seeds are mellow-tasting seeds that have a little sweet and spicy flavor to them. They impart an aromatic, almost nutty taste to your curry powders which adds the pungency to strengthen the overall aroma and taste of your curry when cooked.
- Ground Fenugreek seed
With a taste that is reminiscent of maple syrup and a sweet, nutty flavor, fenugreek seeds are a staple in curry powders and in Indian cooking overall. It is bitter when eaten on its own, but when combined with the other spices in curry powders, it instantly elevates the sweetness and depth of flavor of your curry.
- Ginger powder
Ginger root, on its own, is incredibly pungent, sweet, and has a spicy kick to it. When ground up, the pungency mellows down, but the spice and sweetness remain present. When added to other spices in a curry powder, It adds an ultimately fresh zing that is important in making a good curry.
What types of curries have gluten?
Spices that makeup curry powders naturally do not contain any gluten in them. So if you’re wondering if it’s possible to make a gluten-free curry – yes, because all homemade curry powders are gluten-free!
It is only when you buy mass-produced curry powders in boxes in the grocery store that increases the chance of consuming gluten in your curry. This is because some manufacturers use flour to prevent their curry powders from caking up while in storage or while on shelves.
What are the different types of curry?
There are as many types of curries as there are curry powder variations in the world. Some are tomato-based, while others are coconut-based. Curries vary from region to region in the world, thanks to the worldwide popularity of curry powder, but here are some of the most popular curries you can find today.
- Tikka Masala
Tikka Masala is undoubtedly the curry dish that is the most ordered dish in Indian restaurants all around the world. It is a spice, tomato, and cream-based curry that is usually cooked together with chicken meat to create Chicken Tikka Masala – a staple selection you’ll find in almost every Indian restaurant.
Jalfrezi is a spice, green pepper, chili, and tomato-based curry that goes with all kinds of meat and vegetables. This spicy dish is a staple option for those who can handle some heat in their curries.
Korma is a coconut, nut (almond, cashew, etc), and yogurt-based curry that is cooked with both meat and vegetable options. It is mild, velvety, and not so spicy, which is great for those looking for a less spicy option.
Gluten-free curry recipes to try
- Gluten-free Chicken Coconut Curry
For this simple gluten-free chicken curry recipe, you’ll first need these ingredients for the spice mix:
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp fenugreek
- ½ tsp salt
And these ingredients:
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- 1 large onion (finely sliced)
- 2 inch piece of ginger
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 2 large chicken breasts (chopped into bitesize chunks)
- 6 cherry tomatoes
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk (full fat)
- 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
- 1 tbsp natural yogurt (use coconut yogurt to keep dairy-free)
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- ½ tsp chili flakes (optional)
Mix all the ingredients for the spice mix together in a small bowl, and set aside.
Next, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a tall-sided pan, and put the heat on low. When the oil is hot, fry your onions until they start to turn into a golden brown color.
Add your spice mix into the pan with the cooked onions, and then add garlic paste and grated ginger into the mix. Stir the entire mixture until the onions, garlic, and ginger have become completely coated with the spice mix.
Then, add your chicken and fry your chicken until it cooks evenly on all sides. Add your chopped tomatoes and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Once your tomatoes are mixed in completely, pour your coconut milk into the pan to mix everything together and bring your curry to a boil. After it boils, turn it down to a low heat and simmer it to reduce and thicken your curry.
Finally, add your yogurt, spinach, and chili flakes into your curry and stir for another 5 minutes. Season with salt or sugar to taste.
You now have a delicious bowl of gluten-free coconut chicken curry to serve! Garnish with flaked almonds, sliced onions, and chopped coriander for a supreme curry experience.
Photo altered by simplelifesaver.com | Photo attribution: Jason Leung