Celiac Disease / Recipes

DIY, Gluten-Free Indian Take Out

IMG_1896It’s always sad to lose a restaurant to unsafe gluten practices. (RIP, Grand India Cafe.) And it’s especially sad when it’s a particular type of food that’s not as easy to whip up as say, a cheeseburger. So when I learned my chicken tikka masala was grilled on the same grill as the naan bread, well, I had to buck up and make my own damn saag paneer side to my masala.

Really, it was only a matter of time as I’ve been enjoying a multitude of spices up in my recipes lately. If I can expand my dinner repertoire, so much the better. After all, well-flavored food is so much more filling than bland (although please never, ever, take away my mashed potatoes) and that’s a good thing. Right? RIGHT. And food without gluten is so much better for my farting situation than food WITH gluten, so from now on this is how we eat Indian take out at my house.

Who made this mess?

Who made this mess?

You’ve got your chicken in the yogurt cooking over there, the masala sauce bubbling away, and the saag paneer/feta since I couldn’t find any paneer. (Feta may  not look nearly as good as paneer, nor be as sturdy, but the flavor is fab.) To keep some tradition in our dinner, I did go back to a regular ol’ chicken tikka masala recipe instead of making it funky like the one above. I also splurged on the basmati rice because that really ties it all together, yes? Oh, you think the naan does? Well, call up Grand India Cafe, but we don’t play that here. Unless we do (recipe in my new book!). But I forgot that night. Sorry guys, I was too busy watching the feta.

So, yeah, if you want to go traditional, and not poop-inducing, here’s a few ways to do it!*

Gluten-Free Chicken Tikka Masala

adapted from Epicurious, like barely adapted, but still…

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes


For the chicken:

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 to 4 breast halves total)
1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (I used the Dorot frozen ginger, because it’s awesome)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups canned tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Using a mallet, prepare the chicken breasts by pounding to 1/2″ thickness. Cut chicken into 2″ pieces and place in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small bowl combine yogurt, peanut oil, lime juice and garlic. Pour over chicken and allow it to marinate while you make the sauce.
  3. Melt butter in a large pot or skillet and add chopped onion to saute over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, cook onions until they begin to caramelize (5-10 minutes depending on your pot/skillet).
  4. Turn heat down to medium and stir in coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, and ginger. After spices are evenly distributed, add tomato sauce, half-and-half, water and salt and bring sauce to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened as desired.
  6. While sauce is simmering, add peanut oil to a large griddle or skillet. Cook chicken pieces in batches (don’t crowd) for 3-4 minutes each side.
  7. Transfer chicken to sauce and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Add pepper, salt and if you don’t have a negative reaction to it—cilantro—and serve over basmati rice.

Makes: 8 servings

Saag Paneer (Feta)

adapted from Food Network

Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes


1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces paneer, (or substitute feta if you can’t find paneer at the store), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (16-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced (again, Dorot makes this easy)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred until smooth

  1. Combine turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add cheese (paneer or feta) and gently coat with the mixture. Allow to marinate while you prepare the spinach.
  2. Thaw your frozen spinach in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium and add paneer/feta to fry as it heats up. Feta will begin to melt together a bit, so separate using a wooden spatula as it cooks for 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, and add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Saute on medium for 15 minutes or until its evenly browned. Add water in case it begins to dry, and stir occasionally.
  5. Add garam masala, coriander and cumin to the mixture. Sprinkle with water, and cook for 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
  6. Add spinach to the skillet, a dash of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Combine well and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.
  7. Remove skillet from heat and stir in yogurt. Add paneer/feta and return to heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve with the rest of your slammin’ Indian dinner.

Makes: 8 servings

*Note, if you have a dairy problem, or are getting over a stomach issue be warned this biz is FULL O’ DAIRY. Be careful out there.

5 thoughts on “DIY, Gluten-Free Indian Take Out

  1. THANK YOU for solving the mystery of the chicken tikka! Months ago I had a reaction to a supposedly safe meal at our favorite Indian restaurant. My daughter narrowed it down to the chicken tikka but we couldn’t image how that could be. The restaurant knows my issues and I always go over it all again each time. This solves the mystery! Thank you! Yes, I also buy basmati rice to cook with my homemade Indian food. I’ve got a bunch of stuff that we all enjoy. I also know how to make paneer, by the way. I’ll try later to come back and share. Not for me, as I can’t do that much lactose, but everyone else enjoys.

  2. I’ve had great luck at vegetarian Indian restaurants. Because the veg and the paneer are cooked in the same pan as the sauce, not on the grill.

    Really, trust me, with the complexity of Indian cuisine, you aren’t likely to miss the meat. 🙂

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