Food lover wants to explore Indian Cuisine, but has (allergic) sensitivity to Tumeric.

I love to try new foods, but I have a (allergic) sensitivity to Turmeric. I can eat it, but really need to watch my intake carefully. Often a normal serving of a decently turmeric-spiced dish is a little too much for me. Obviously, this has stood in the way of my interest in Indian cuisine.

My reaction is just uncomfortable—it won't send me to the hospital, so a little turmeric is ok, but dishes that don't use it heavily would be best. What are some other flavorful Indian dishes, that don't rely on turmeric-heavy sauces or curries, that I can still enjoy?

  • Posted by: Cookie16
  • December 15, 2011


Panfusine December 15, 2011
Salicylic acid... a.k.a Aspirin, its derived from Phenylalanine (which is implicated in the manufacture of aspartame)
Ophelia December 15, 2011

I've used a lot of recipes from this book and haven't used turmeric in any of them (it makes my tongue feel scratchy and stains things, but also most of the recipes just don't call for it). My feeling on most recipes is that you use what you have, you leave out the things you can't have or can't obtain (substituting where applicable, or skipping recipes where missing ingredients are too important) and figure that someone somewhere probably makes it the same way you do, probably even someone that lives in the place where the recipe is from ('cause I can't be the only one that loves cumin more than any other spice in the world and is allergic to milk).
The S. December 15, 2011
At Home with Madhur Jaffrey is a good beginner book--simple, easy, very tasty. For more encyclopedic choices Raghaven Iyer's 660 Curries is great.

Yikes I would never know what salicylic acid is even in!
Cookie16 December 15, 2011
Oh! How funny and what a coincidence, TheSpicedLife. That's a great tidbit of information to know about turmeric. I always just thought that's how Indian dishes were—it's a relief to be wrong and to know I am on my way to eating some great Indian food again! I certainly would appreciate any cookbook suggestions you might have for non-western based Indian cuisines.

And thank you everyone for the suggestions! I'm going to go back and revisit a Dal recipe and move forward from there.

To let you in on a little secret: The REAL problem is that I have an intolerance to salicylic acid, which as we all know is naturally occurring in all foods. Turmeric is right a the top of the "high in salicylates" list that I got from my allergist. And just now, I finished a second mug of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea —and my face is tingling all over. I can't win!
Panfusine December 15, 2011
Most traditional Indian recipes just call for a pinch of turmeric. the commercial dishes load up on it, & most of it goes to making the oil glisten a bright yellow!
In fact, excessive turmeric can wreak havoc on a dish, not only a deep yellow color but also cause an unpleasant buzzing sensation on the tongue. Feel free to omit the ingredient.. (the major difference will merely be a paler looking dish.)
Cookie16 December 15, 2011
Oh my! I hope to never experience that tongue buzzing. I think if I get to that point I'll be Food52'ing from the ER :)
hardlikearmour December 15, 2011
I would find a recipe for curry powder, and just leave the turmeric out, then make what every you want. It doesn't have a strong flavor when tasted on it's own, so I don't think you'll even miss it.
Cookie16 December 15, 2011
Great idea!
The S. December 15, 2011
Interesting--Monica Bhide and I were just discussing this (she is an Indian American food writer) and WESTERN "Indian" recipes for curry contain tons of turmeric, but Indian recipes don't. They rarely call for more than 1/4 teaspoon. So I say stick to authentic Indian cuisine and just try leaving the turmeric out--or see if you can tolerate the small amount (or try adding a pinch).

I just went to my blog and started looking at Indian recipes, and here is one without any turmeric:

Let me know if you want more suggestions or cookbook suggestions.
lloreen December 15, 2011
I think tumeric is mostly used for coloring and you can just leave it out of any dish if you are allergic. Most dishes have a combination of spices and will still be flavorful, especially if they have cumin and coriander.
Cookie16 December 15, 2011
I'm looking at a recipe just now...1/2 a teaspoon just to color something is scary! Of course I always think about the same thing when I'm reading recipes for Red Velvet cake!
Recommended by Food52