March 23, 2004

A Curry Worry

by Jeremy Blachman

Via Drudge, "Food colourings linked to hyperactivity, asthma, and even cancer, have been detected in chicken tikka massala, one of the UKs favourite dishes..."

Trading standards officers launched an investigation, limited to chicken tikka massala...

[One of the dyes used] can cause blurred vision and purple skin patches and is particularly hazardous for asthmatics and anyone allergic to aspirin...

[Another can cause] chromosome damage and kidney tumours as well as abdominal pain, hives, nausea and vomiting...

[Said the national curry chef of the year:] Colouring does not enhance the flavour of the food but a lot of people eat with their eyes.

Mostly just posted for my clever post title. I just don't know what to say, besides "an investigation, limited to chicken tikka massala" is not a line I ever thought I'd see in a news article anywhere. Imagine what the tandoori red color is doing to your insides. Post your favorite completely unnaturally colored foods in the comments. :)

March 23, 2004 12:31 AM | TrackBack

Call me a traditionalist, but I'll go with Twinkies and Yellow Dye #5.

Never been a big fan of Indian food as I prefer eating solids rather than curries and stews.

Posted by: Brian at March 23, 2004 09:28 AM

I have been "a big fan of Indian food" since I was old enough to chew, but curry is very misunderstood. One of my favorite Daily Show bits was on curry as an addictive drug, but it furthered this misunderstanding, because it assumed that curry is just this yellow powder. Real curry (speaking of it as ingredient and not as catchall term for Indian food) is not pre-packaged, nor yellow, nor necessary to every Indian dish.

As the chef said, "Colouring does not enhance the flavour of the food but a lot of people eat with their eyes," and assume that if it is not yellow, it is not Indian food. It's even worse in reverse; the UVA dining hall was convinced that if it was yellow, they had succeeded in making Indian food.

Posted by: PG at March 23, 2004 10:36 AM

"Colouring does not enhance the flavour of the food but a lot of people eat with their eyes,"

That could get messy, especially if wearing glasses.

Posted by: Sean S at March 23, 2004 10:48 AM

Yes, that was why I included that quote despite it not saying anything about grotesque illness (purple skin patches??).

Posted by: Jeremy at March 23, 2004 11:12 AM

Don't get me wrong, although "since I was old enough to chew" I could be called the George Corlie Wallace of foodstuff consumption, I do recognize that curry often has chewable components. I just prefer a more compartmentalized approach to dining.

On the other hand, only once at my time at Mr. Jefferson's University did I visit the dining hall. The rest of my meals consisting mostly of red beans and rice: the J. Skelly Wright of southern cuisine.

Posted by: Brian at March 23, 2004 11:22 AM

OH NO! Thats not a good finding at all, since my diet consists largely of Indian food... I love the spices, but I am an asthmatic... hmmm, risk vs. pleasure.

In the line of thoroughly unnaturally colored foods, the outright winner for most unatural and most color has got to be Chinese boneless spareribs... I swear that coloring stays in me for days witnessed by the aftermath.. *cough*

Posted by: Chris at March 23, 2004 11:34 AM

Yeah, purple skin patches are definitely not something you hear about every day. I wonder how long it takes for them to develop. It would be frightening if they arrived prior to receiving the check. That would be something out of a Sci-fi movie. I am sure somehow the purple patches would then convert otherwise normal people into demons. (or maybe something more original)

Posted by: Sean S at March 23, 2004 11:50 AM

The article only mentioned restaurants in the UK; maybe it's unwise of me (yeah, I'm asthmatic, and breastfeeding), but there's no way I am going to give up Indian food just because restaurants in Surrey have problems. I'll stop eating chicken tikka massala when they pry the dish out of my cold dead purple-patchy hands!

Posted by: Allison at March 24, 2004 11:26 AM

i think the tikka sauce -is-the red of the tandoori chicken. tandoori is a clay oven thingy.
tikka sauce (massala) is the red stuff mixed with coriander and cumin and who knows what, not a curry in itself but related. you can get a similar taste from biryani sauce which doesn't have the red stuff.

Posted by: arbitraryaardvark at April 7, 2004 05:07 PM
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