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The Indian Autoimmune Paleo Kitchen: Part 1 – Stocking Up

Updated on August 5, 2019
Rinita Sen profile image

Rinita writes about healthy living in India and has been buying organic food ingredients since 2017.

Know Your Anti-Inflammatory Friends
Know Your Anti-Inflammatory Friends | Source


Back in 2017, when I was prescribed the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet owing to a chronic condition, it was overwhelming. It is a difficult diet to begin with, not only because you have to give up so many of your relished dishes, but also because you do not know how to prepare meals that conform to the diet and yet maintain some of the tastes of your local cuisine.

I scouted the internet frantically over the next few days (and trust me, I am still looking) for AIP-based recipes suitable to my Indian palate. Needless to say, most of the recipes I found belonged to unfamiliar cuisines. Indians reading this would certainly agree that our way of cooking greatly differs from those in the western part of the world. So, my only option was to create my own recipes.

In this series, I will regularly publish some of my tried and tested Indian recipes that adhere to the standard AIP diet. Let us begin with the basics of AIP and then move on to what your kitchen cupboard should look like when on this diet.

What is an AIP Diet?

It might be an assumption on my part that if you have landed on this page, you are already aware of the constitution of an AIP. For the benefit of everyone, however, I provide here a quick introduction. AIP is an elimination diet, often considered as a stricter version of the standard paleo diet. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, a researcher in the field of autoimmune protocols, presents AIP as a diet that comprises nutrition-dense foods while eliminating inflammatory foods.

Typically, due to its restrictive nature, AIP is mainly followed by those that have been dealing with an autoimmune condition. However, there is nothing to prevent a healthy person from giving it a shot, as there is no harm in following it apart from the downside that you give up on so-called sinful but delicious foods.

If you are new to AIP, and constantly forget what foods should or should not be included in the diet, here is a handy guide from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. Print it out and stick it on your refrigerator for a glance when you cook.

Stocking Up the Kitchen

As with any restricted diet, the key to succeeding with AIP is to plan. Needless to say, stocking up your kitchen with the necessary ingredients is the first step of planning. If your kitchen belongs to an average Indian household, there might be several items that would be thrown out in the process of adhering to the diet. However, you also have the option of bringing in some new ingredients. Let us see what your kitchen would like after the modifications.

What Goes and What Stays?

First of all, let us try to arrange our ingredients according to food categories. For an average Indian household, the primary categories for daily use are as below.

a. Grains – including rice, whole wheat, refined wheat, corn, and semolina

When beginning with an AIP diet, this category should be eliminated. However, after successful reintroduction (I will talk about reintroduction in later parts of the series), rice (both brown and white) might find a place in your kitchen cabinet. Get packets of tapioca starch, banana flour, and coconut flour as suitable replacements to begin with.

b. Legumes – including all kinds of pulses such as masoor (red lentils), moong (split yellow lentils, tuvar (split pigeon peas), and chana (split chickpeas), rajma (kidney beans), chhole (chickpeas), lobia (black-eyed peas), and other similar items

Are you a big fan of rajma-chawal (red kidney beans with rice)? Well, while on AIP, that goes out of the window. Again, with reintroduction, some of the legumes, mainly the split lentils, might be able to refill those jars.

c. Dairy – including milk, butter, ghee, curd, and paneer

Not being able to add that fresh dollop of butter to your beloved chicken curry might be painful, but while starting with AIP, all of the above have to be out of your kitchen. Instead, bring in coconut milk, coconut butter, and other coconut-based products. Most people do fine with reintroducing ghee after a short period, so do not throw that jar out yet.

d. Spices – any seed-based dry spice that adds flavor to the dishes

Indian cuisine thrives on spices. Unfortunately, of all the spices we commonly use, only a few are allowed to stay. Turmeric, black pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves are your loyal AIP friends, while you bid goodbye to old friends such as cumin, coriander, red chili, green chili, cardamom, fenugreek, ajwain (caraway), fennel, and mustard.

e. Oil – everything that is used for sautéing, deep-frying, stir-frying, roasting, and grilling

The only two kinds of oil that find a place in your AIP kitchen are coconut oil and olive oil. Make sure they are cold-pressed and unrefined. Every other oil (regardless of whether they are cold-pressed or refined) including mustard oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, groundnut oil, and sesame oil is off-limits and must see the exit.

f. Vegetables and Fruits

Refer to Sarah Ballantyne’s Yes-No-Maybe list to identify which vegetables and fruits are allowed in an AIP kitchen. In short, avoid bhindi (okra), brinjal, potatoes, tomatoes, and green beans among vegetables.

g. Meat and Fish – including all animal protein

Most meat and fish are alright as long as they are chemical-free. So, go ahead and pile up the freezer.

Popular Indian Dishes and Their Place in Your AIP Life

Here is a table of the different dishes that we regularly prepare in India, focusing on whether or not they are AIP-compliant (now and in future). This is just a basic list and covers only extremely popular items in the Indian subcontinent. For others, check every ingredient down to the oil before consuming them.

Allowed Now? (Y/N)
Maybe Soon? (Y/N)
Wheat Chapati/Poori
Cooked Rice
Yellow Daal
Chicken/Fish Curry
With select spices
With select spices
Cooked Veggies
Select veggies with select spices
Select veggies with select spices
Samosa, kachori, and other similar fried items

The Regular Indian Palate

The Journey Begins

It might take a few weeks to completely overhaul your kitchen. After all, it takes patience and will-power to change familiar surroundings. Hopefully, this guide provides the pre-cursory nudge, and with time, your hands will adjust to the redefined storage. Meanwhile, I will be busy crafting some delicious yet simple Indian AIP recipe-articles for you. Stay tuned!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Rinita Sen


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