Thursday, January 8, 2015

Masala Chicken and Vegetable Stew (Nightshade-Free)

I love curry dishes, but curry powder typically contains chili peppers (a nightshade vegetable). If you are following the Elimination Diet and craving curry, try this stew! It's warming, though not as spicy as a typical curry would be. I use garam masala powder, cumin seeds, and turmeric powder to create a flavorful dish without chili peppers. I know it's not authentic at all, but it is totally satisfying if you are on a nightshade-free diet or elimination diet!

Consuming nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, goji berries) can trigger joint pain, migraines, skin rashes, acne, GI upset, and inflammation in SOME people. Are you sensitive to nightshades? Please share your experiences in the comment section below. If you think nightshades might be an issue for you, the best way to determine that is to do an Elimination Diet.

Garam masala is a staple spice blend at our house. I use it a lot to flavor roasted vegetables, or garbanzo bean dishes. Garam means warm, and Masala means spice blend. Garam masala typically contains cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander.

Masala Chicken and Vegetable Stew

Feel free to add other vegetables to this stew. For example, a few cups of thinly sliced kale is a great addition (toss it in right at the end of cooking). You can replace the carrots or green beans with chopped sweet potatoes (know that sweet potatoes cook much faster than carrots so adjust cooking time accordingly). Chopped zucchini is also another great addition to this stew (zucchini cooks very fast so it should be one of the last vegetables you add). Serve this nourishing stew with cooked sprouted brown rice or white jasmine rice.....or no grains at all if you are avoiding complex starches.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds organic chicken breast or thigh meat, chopped
1 can coconut milk
1 to 2 cups homemade chicken stock or water
4 large carrots, sliced into rounds
1 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped (about 4 cups)
chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat a 6-quart pot or larger over medium heat. Add the olive or coconut oil. Then add the onions; sauté for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for about a minute more. Then add the garam masala, turmeric, sea salt and chicken; sauté another one to two minutes to coat the chicken and onions in the spices.

Add the coconut milk and stock. Cover and simmer on low heat for 25 minutes. Then add the carrots and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the green beans and cook until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve. Garnish each bowl with chopped cilantro if desired.

Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

More Nightshade-Free Recipes:


Cooking Classes
I will be teaching some cooking classes this winter at our local food co-op in Northwestern Washington. In the first class, on January 29th, I will be demonstrating how to cook nourishing winter foods such as bone broth, roasted chicken with root vegetables, lentil & vegetable soup, lacto-fermented carrots, sautéed winter greens, and more! Register here! (Space is limited so register early)

On February 12th, I will demonstrating how to prepare healthy dessert recipes...just in time for Valentine's Day. Learn to make homemade raw chocolates, as well as other gluten-free and grain-free healthy desserts! Register here! (Space is limited so register early)

On March 26th, both Tom and I will be teaching an Elimination Diet 101 class. We will be covering all of the basics on how to do an elimination diet, plus be demonstrating staple elimination diet recipes such as creamy green detox soup, pineapple green smoothie, turkey and carrot hash, brown rice tortillas, pomegranate chicken tacos, a simple salad with green goddess dressing, and pumpkin seed butter energy bars! Register here! (Space is limited so register early)

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Thank you for posting nightshade free recipes! This masala looks delicious!

    I used to eat nightshades ALL the time... I'm talking at least once a day I had bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, you name it! I tried the elimination diet a year ago and what do you know.. my body does NOT like nightshades :( When I re-introduced them, I felt sick to my stomach and had a bad headache for the rest of the day. Since then, I have definitely cut back, but it's hard to totally control myself around salsa and spaghetti sauce. When I do indulge, my psoriasis gets really bad, reminding me that I need to stay away!

  2. I had a client ask me about ethnic gluten-free recipes just a couple of nights ago. I do not have many on my blog to share so I will share this with her! Plus I am a HUGE fan of Indian. Thank you!

    1. Wendie~ I have a few other curry recipes on my blog that are naturally gluten-free, but do contain nightshades. Check the recipe index if you need more to share. :)

  3. Nightshades cause my throat to swell a bit (like a sore throat). Thanks for tagging your nightshade free recipes. I just learned that radishes are a great substitute for potatoes, for anyone else struggling with avoiding them. I roasted them with a chicken and I'd bet they be good in this stew as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Radishes…..I will have to try roasting them and adding them to stews. Sounds good! I really like to use rutabagas and celeriac in hearty stews to replace potatoes. :)

  4. This recipe was really simple and satisfying. My kids still look at me like I'm an alien when I serve up stews like this, which is surprising since it's really all they've known. They definitely seem to prefer dishes with all the foods separate from each other--green beans, carrots, chicken, salad--great! Put it in one bowl (minus the salad!) and they don't know what to do with it. My oldest will eat beans, yams, bell peppers and every other ingredient in a black bean soup, but if all those ingredients land in one pot and then into one bowl, she will look entirely baffled by the whole idea. I have cooked real food for them since they could eat and I let them serve themselves. Soups/stews/curries and other easy one-pot meals are hard to sell here. I love them and it makes my lunch life easier, but I wish it were easier getting my kids to eat those types of foods!

    1. Oh that can get frustrating! There is some new research pointing to genetics and eating who knows! My kids just eat what we have for the most part. I have one that picks out peas from meals and another that isn't fond of cooked carrots but thats about as far as it gets. Give it time and keep offering your beautiful real food meals. Maybe one day they will just eat what you serve and you won't even look back. :)

  5. This sounds really yummy, but FYI nutmeg is a nightshade! Garam Marsala also contains nutmeg - so there's a double dose! Also, if you in the midst of the elimination diet or on a strict version of the autoimmune protocol, black pepper is a no too. Just wanted to put that out there. It's not hard to substitute. If something calls for nutmeg I use cinnamon, turmeric, or ginger, or just leave it out and add extras of the other spices called for. There are some nightshade free curry spice mix recipes out there but I have yet to try one.

    1. Where are you getting your information on nutmeg? Nutmeg grows on a tree and is not a nightshade. I also don't use it here in this recipe or in my garam masala blend. I know for those following an AIP diet this recipe would not be ideal because of some of the spices (seeds), but it is not designed for the AIP.

    2. You are correct, Ali. Nutmet is NOT a nightshade. Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans and other Myristica spp.) is in the Nutmeg family (Myristicaceae), NOT the Nightshade family (Solanaceae).

  6. This was incredibly delicious. I know I posted on facebook, but I wanted someone who came to the page know I made it and we raved about the stew with every bite. We served it with short brown rice, which was nice and sticky and delicious. I love it when an elimination diet is more of a treat than a sacrifice. Thanks Ali. :)


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)