The Low Oxalate Curry Guide

by Heidi on May 31, 2012

low oxalate curry (Kheema)

Kheema (spicy mince)

I love a good curry, which can be problematic on the low oxalate diet.  If you check out the top four ingredients in most commercial curry powders, you will find three are high oxalate (turmeric, cumin, and coriander) and one hasn’t been tested  (fenugreek seeds).  No wonder the only commercially-available curry powder that’s been tested is really  high oxalate (72 mg. oxalate per tablespoon for McCormick’s brand curry powder.  And most curry recipes call for 2 – 3 tablespoons. Yikes!).

If you’ve been missing curry, take heart.  Here’s a run down of traditional curry spices, herbs, flavorings and oils by oxalate content, so you can start experimenting again today!

Curry Spices by Oxalate Content:

High Oxalate                    Medium Oxalate        Low Oxalate                   Very Low Oxalate
Turmeric*                                    Cardemom                             Yellow Mustard                       Garlic
Cumin Seed                                  Nutmeg                                   Raw Ginger                                Lemon Juice
Coriander                                     Lemon Peel                            Fresh Green Chilis                  Lemon extract**
Cinnamon*                                  Paprika                                    Fresh Cilantro                          Cinnamon extract**
Clove*                                            Black Pepper                        Fresh Basil                                 Chrystallized Ginger (ground)
Fennel Seed*                              Cayenne Pepper                  Sage**                                          Curcumin Supplements**
Ground Ginger                           Fresh Jalapeno**               White Pepper                             Coconut milk, oil or flesh
Anise Seed                                   Fresh Serrano**                 Fresh Cayenne                           Tobasco Sauce**

Not Tested: Fenugreek Seed, Curry Leaves, Asafoetida, Tamarind
Serving size for all dried herbs and spices is 1 teaspoon.  Serving sizes for fresh ingredients vary, but are “reasonable” serving sizes such as two tablespoons chopped green chilies, 2 jalapeno peppers, 6 small cayenne peppers, or 1 clove garlic.
*Above 25 mg. oxalate per serving (very high oxalate)
**Not traditional, but can be used to replace some traditional ingredients with yummy results

low oxalate Poha (fried flattened rice)

Poha (fried flattened rice)

Making Low Oxalate Curry:  As you can see, not all is lost!  If you want to make your own low oxalate curry powder or low oxalate curries, you have plenty of medium, low and very low oxalate spices, herbs and flavorings to choose from.  I strongly suggest you don’t use any of the very high oxalate spices (those marked with one asterick), especially turmeric (which is really high oxalate).  Although most people associate curry with turmeric, it has very little taste and is used in curries mainly for the health properties of its most biologically-active component—curcumin.  Curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and may be added to your curries by breaking open a few low oxalate curcumin capsules.  Curcumin supplements will also add the traditional yellow color to your final dish and helps preserve the traditional health benefits of eating curry.  I strongly recommend adding curcumin capsules to your curry, especially since oxalate causes  oxidative stress and inflammation–two conditions helped by curcumin.  Some very painful inflammatory conditions can be improved with curcumin supplementation, plus some very positive results have been seen in the autism community.

Although you probably shouldn’t use the very high oxalate ingredients in your curries, I do make an exception for cumin and occasionally for coriander.  Cumin and coriander are very strong-tasting traditional Indian spices, and a little bit can go a long way.  Try using small amounts of cumin or coriander in your curry (about ¼ to ½ teaspoon); just don’t go crazy with it.  Also, remember spices and dried herbs lose their flavor fast in your cabinet (see Five Tips for Using Herbs and Spices).  Make sure your herbs and spices are as fresh as possible—less than a month old if you can–especially if you are going to use high oxalate spices like cumin in your recipes.  You want as much flavor for the oxalate as possible.

Low Oxalate Curry Powders:If you’re ready to start experimenting with low oxalate curries, you will love the two low oxalate curry powders below.  Karla over at the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group is a fabulous and creative chef  who keeps a database of low oxalate recipes in the group’s applications area (click here for the data base if you are already a member of this fabulous group.  If you are not a member, see Top Ten Reasons to Join the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group and join today!).  Karla has shared many yummy curry recipes in the low oxalate recipe database (20 at last count), most of which include her signature low oxalate curry powder.  This is a mild curry powder that can be used in any recipe that calls for curry powder; just don’t substitute it tablespoon for tablespoon!  To keep things low oxalate, try using one teaspoon of Karla’s low oxalate curry powder for each tablespoon of regular curry powder in your favorite curry recipe (and be sure to significantly reduce or eliminate any other high oxalate curry seasoning!).

low oxalate Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

Karla’s Low Oxalate Curry Powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cardamom
4 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp lemon/orange zest
1 tsp ground cumin
3 Enhansa 150 mg capsules
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container (open the curcumin capsules and add the powder to your mix). Makes 15 teaspoons.

Note: If you don’t have Enhansa, 1 Jarrow Curcumin 95 capsule can also be used.

Low Oxalate Info: If you check out this recipe in the Trying Low Oxalates recipe database, you’ll notice that Karla always puts the oxalate content of each ingredient in parenthesis next to the ingredient.  I removed these here for editorial reasons, but this is another bonus of using the recipe database in the trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group.  You always know exactly where your oxalate is coming from!  Karla’s low oxalate curry powder has about 6.7 mg oxalate per teaspoon. If you want to reduce the oxalate content of this fabulous curry powder even further, I suggest you leave out the lemon or orange zest and add a few drops (up to a ½ teaspoon) of pure lemon extract or pure orange extract to your recipe (add it to a liquid ingredient if possible and mix well).  Lemon extract and orange extract are very low oxalate, and leaving the zest out of Karla’s powder reduces the oxalate content to about 5.1 mg. per teaspoon.

Low Oxalate Curry Powder with Mustard:

low oxalate boiled egg and curried chickpeas

boiled egg and curried chickpeas

If you enjoy curry with mustard, you’ll love this low oxalate curry powder with ground yellow mustard, especially when combined with cauliflower, chicken or fish.  I didn’t add any ginger, cilantro or basil to my powder because I prefer to add these ingredients fresh (plus, I almost always add more fresh garlic).  I might also occasionally add fresh chilies or hot peppers to a curry if I want more heat, but generally a teaspoon or two of my low oxalate curry powder with mustard provides enough heat for me.  Again, to keep things low oxalate, use 1 teaspoon of low oxalate mustard curry powder for 1 tablespoon of regular curry powder in your favorite recipes and ditch or significantly reduce any other high oxalate seasonings.

Low Oxalate Curry Powder with Mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 Enhansa 150 mg. capsules or 1 Jarrow Curcumin 95 capsule
2 teaspoons granulated garlic

Combine all of the ingredients and store in an air-tight container for up to two months (open the curcumin capsules and add them to your mix).  Makes about 11 teaspoons (recipe halves easily if you don’t think you’ll use this powder quickly enough–use two Enhansa capsules or one Jarrow 95 capsule if you halve the recipe).

Low Oxalate Info:  Low Oxalate Mustard Curry Powder has about 4.1 mg. oxalate per teaspoon.

Photo credits go to jules:stone soup for Boiled Eggs with Curried Chickpeas, rovingl for Kheema, Poha and Chicken Curry.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

LisaG May 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Wow! You’ve done it again! Thanks for the information and encouragement you provide here every time you post!

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Beth June 1, 2012 at 4:50 am

Hi Heidi,
I’m just perusing your wonderful site for the first time, having seen your comments on the Healthy Home Economist blog post on green smoothies.
My head’s spinning with all this new information and I have many questions but will hold off until I have some time to explore the yahoo group files and various websites and blogs. In the mean time, here’s a quick question. I was intrigued by the idea of cinnamon extract, since I love cinnamon, but I see the main ingredient on the one linked above is propylene glycol, a carcinogen. Do you know of other brands that do not contain this?

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Heidi June 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi, Beth.

Thanks for your comment and for dropping by. Learning about oxalate for yourself or someone you love can be overwhelming at first. It’s a lot of information, but if you think a low oxalate diet may help you, it is really worth it to take the time to explore and get your head around things. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my health.

Those of us in the low oxalate community are just starting to explore using extracts in our cooking, but all extracts that have been tested so far are low oxalate, so they hold a lot of promise of bringing back tastes we love and miss! In fact, many of us are pretty comfortable using any type of alcohol and oil based extract as far as oxalate goes even if it hasn’t been tested. A number of extracts (including cumin extract) have been added to the Autism Oxalate Project’s testing schedule, although it may be awhile before they are actually tested. Most of the common alcohol-based extracts that are produced and sold for use in cooking unfortunately contain propylene glycol. I try to only link to products I’ve used myself, so the extracts above are all ones that a friend gave me when she cleared out her cupboard before moving. They are all high quality as far as extracts go, but yes, they have that icky propylene glycol in them (which I kid myself in saying a few drops won’t hurt . . .). Herb Pharm cinnamon extract does not contain propylene glycol and may be a good alternative. It’s what I plan to try next when I get some “experimenting cash” saved up :-> so I can’t vouch for it. It’s sold through pharmacies, not grocery stores so it was designed for people who want to take cinnamon for its health properties, not necessarily for its taste. But it might taste really good! Who knows? I sure hope so! Also, pure cinnamon oil (not the extract) might be the best option for low oxalate dieters eventually. Unfortunately, it has not been tested for oxalate content yet, but from what we know about oxalate and where it’s stored in plants, it is highly unlikely that pure cinnamon oil is high oxalate. In fact, since you would only use a few drops in most dishes, it is probably very low oxalate. I plan to go ahead and experiment with it myself, but again I can’t vouch for it! Another possibility is to make your own extract with rum and cinnamon sticks. It’s hard to tell how much oxalate this would have, but most likely not much. I personally would trust it in small amounts and cinnamon-flavored rum might be really tasty in baking and smoothies!

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask away any questions you have. I am working on my dissertation right now, so my posts are somewhat sporadic (as are my answers), and there are so many posts I want to write just to get the information out there! Oh well. . . I’m chipping away at it and trying to be of help when I can.

Take care,
Heidi

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Ruth Ann June 9, 2012 at 12:14 am

Thanks, Heidi!
This is really helpful for me. Will you be posting any curry recipes soon? I’d love to try one of these powders out in a recipe you’ve already had success with.

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Heidi June 9, 2012 at 12:17 am

Hi, Ruth Ann.
Yes, I have a couple good curry recipes I hope to post in the next few weeks. I’ve got some big dissertation deadlines on the horizon, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to work on LOI. Hopefully, I’ll get at least one up by the end of the week.

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Alice August 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Regarding the two low oxalate curry powders – instead of curcumin caps or Enhansa caps – can’t just tumeric powder be used instead from a grocery shop?

Thanks

Reply

Heidi August 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

Hi, Alice.
Turmeric powder is high oxalate at about 48 mg. oxalate per teaspoon (tested in 2011 by the VP Foundation). When turmeric is processed into the curcumin extract capsules, they remove the high oxalate part and just leave the curcumin. So the Enhansa capsules and Jarrow capsules are both low oxalate (they were tested in 2011 by the Autism Oxalate Project). 8 Enhansa capsules (3.2 mg. oxalate) or 3 Jarrow Curcumin 95 capsules (0.18 mg. oxalate) can replace 1 tsp tumeric in recipes. It gives your recipe the yellow color, the health benefits of curcumin and most of the flavor of turmeric without all that oxalate.

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Alice August 25, 2013 at 8:27 pm
Heidi December 20, 2013 at 3:36 am

Yes, they are a tumeric concentrate. But it’s the part of the tumeric that doesn’t have oxalate that is concentrated. The processing removes most of the oxalate.
Heidi

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