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Allergic to tikka masala?

Has anyone experienced something like this? Every time I eat tikka masala, I break out in hives. It's not serious, but I'm curious as to what makes me break out. I have no known food allergies and my limited research turned up mentions of the dyes used in the sauces. However, most of the stuff I read was British, so I'm not sure if those dyes are allowed in the United States. I've also read that the dish contains nuts, but I'm not allergic to nuts.

I don't eat this dish often and I've only had it at one restaurant in San Diego. It could be the dish or it could be the restaurant. When I go to this place, I always order the same thing, so it was easy to discern a pattern. The hives aren't severe and there's no shortness of breath, so I continue to enjoy the dish.

Anyway, 'Hounds are knowledgeable folk, so I thought I'd throw it out there and see if anyone might know something about it. Thanks.

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  1. FWIW, my daughter is allergic to red dye #40 and turns red in places on her face, not quite a severe as hives. They could be using that in their masala. Do you get the hives any other time? Red dye 40 shows up in odd places--yogurt, most grocery store baked goods (even ones that aren't red), antibiotics, punches/drinks,...

    1. A close friend of mine has a reaction to Turmeric, which likely shows up in such a dish.

      1. Do you get this when you eat other spicy/Indian foods or just tikka masala? If this is the only food you break out after eating, I would seriously suspect the red dye.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brittle peanut

          I believe it's just the tikka masala. If I eat any other dish, it doesn't seem to affect me.

        2. I have to be careful when eating Indian food. The only thing I'm able to eat without getting a severe migraine and hives is vindaloo, rice, and nan. The smell of the turmeric alone gives a migraine. When I have Indian food I prepare myself before hand with Exedrine Migraine and Bennadryl.

          You can also go to an allergist and get tested.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MrsT

            Vindaloo mix usually has turmeric in it. See the following ingredient list from Penzeys:

            Hand-mixed from: coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, Korintje cinnamon, crushed brown mustard, cayenne red pepper, jalapeƱo pepper, cardamom, turmeric, Tellicherry black pepper and cloves.

            Often restaurants use the same spice mix in more than one dish...maybe if you could give
            other dishes that you eat and don't eat, we could do process of elimination?

            1. re: HappyChow

              Let's see... tandoori chicken, chicken masala, anything with lentils (daal?), spinach purees (palak paneer?), and naan don't give me any problems.

              Of the ingredients you listed from the vindaloo mix, I've had most of them in other dishes (more South Asian than Indian) with no issues. It's starting to look more and more like the dye.

              1. re: geekyfoodie

                I don't think it's the dye, because then you'd have problems with the tandoori chicken, which is often dyed a bright red (or at least it is in many of California's Indian restaurants).

                1. re: Humbucker

                  I didn't think so at first, but after reading Miss Needle's comment below (see my response to her), I realized that I don't consume tandoori in large quantities. Never had it as an entree. If it's in a buffet, I'll have a drumstick or two. If someone else orders it, I might try a bite. I'll have to try more of it and see.

              2. re: HappyChow

                Hmmm...I wonder why I get that reaction then. Maybe it's something chemical, maybe it's the amount of turmeric. I know tandori anything knocks me out.

                1. re: MrsT

                  I wasn't under the impression that tandoori chicken normally has large quantities of turmeric in it. I wonder why you can eat vindaloo without problems?

                  This thread is so interesting, in a confusing sort of way.

            2. You say you are not allergic to nuts. However, allergies often develop in adulthood. I was never allergic to carrots. One day about 10 years ago I drank carrot juice and broke out in severe hives. The same thing happens whenever I eat raw carrots. Ate them for years. So, you may have developed an allergy.

              1 Reply
              1. re: emilief

                True, but not to nuts. I eat handfuls of them regularly, from peanuts to cashews to pecans. No reaction there, thank goodness. I'm an unabashed fan of nuts... I'd hate to have to give them up.