One of the frequent complaints from people starting any sort of a low carb diet is flat out palate fatigue. When you consider the degree to which the standard diet in the western world is centered around abundant carbohydrates of all types, it makes sense that a new low carb dieter would feel like they had been set adrift.
To a certain extent, it also results from our heavy reliance on “convenience foods” — things out of a box. If you truly want to keep your carbohydrate intake low, it forces you out of the center of the grocery store where all those processed foods reside. Those foods are formulated against a measurement the food industry calls “the bliss point”, the point where foods are irresistable and addictive. When you take those things away, it is easy to get bored from lack of taste stimulation in your meals.
The longstanding reliance on convenience foods also has created a secondary problem over time. People have gourmet tastes in food from the abundant “food porn” in all forms of media, but never have never acquired the requisite cooking skills needed to make those dishes for themselves. Low carb and keto diets at their best are based upon whole, real foods and minimal processing. It is a requirement to do a lot of your own cooking. People do ok for a while, but the meal simplicity as far as flavor goes has the potential to become monotonous.
People immersed in the western food culture can have a hard time imagining flavorful eating without the benefit of carbs and processed foods. The good news is that there are ready-made solutions awaiting us in other ethnic cuisines.
One such solution comes in the form of Indian curry powder. While many of us would think of “curry” as one flavor, it really is a catch-all term for a powerfully flavored spice blend designed to be a shortcut in cooking. Each home cook has a favorite blend that is kept on hand and used to flavor all manner of foods and especially vegetables. Palate fatigue resolved.
There are certainly a lot of pre-mixed spice blends available on supermarket shelves. There are lot of problems with these, though. Most come bulked out with an excessive amount of salt. While there is no problem with salt, particularly on a low carb diet, it gives you the illusion you are getting more product than you actually are since salt is very cheap. They can often be a dumping ground for old, low quality spices. Finally, surprise surprise, sugar is also hiding under many different names in a lot of cases. Bliss point food formulation lurks everywhere.
It makes a lot more sense to make your own “curry” blends at home. That could be an actual curry, like the Madras-style Mild Curry Powder in this post, which I keep in large quantity in my own pantry. It could also be a pre-mixed BBQ rub or a spice blend for making “pumpkin spice everything” in the fall. The idea is that you make an advance investment in taking one step towards meal completion for every meal you use it in until it’s gone. It’s a tremendous time savings and one that I appreciate as a busy parent who still chooses to cook from-scratch meals at home.
An additional advantage is that in blending your own spices, you can hone them to your tastes and preferences while keeping an eye on quality. Having a toddler means we typically have to tone down the spice level for family meals. I like my Madras-style mild curry powder more on the “warming” side as far as the spice blend. Both of those are incorporated into the construction of our family “curry” powder. As always, experiment with what you like! There are no wrong answers.
Madras-Style Mild Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp fenugreek
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp paprika
Grind all spices together in a spice grinder and seal in an airtight container (preferably glass) for up to six months.