Today, I will share with a healthier recipe of a dish that is very close to my heart. I have enjoyed this many times at the dad’s old restaurant and I have made this dish few times myself. I am talking about my favorite Chicken Tikka Masala. The traditional recipe is rich and creamy. Today, I will share both a healthy diary version and a diary free paleo version. Hope you enjoy make your favorite version. I look forward to hearing your comments. Happy reading.
Ingredients for Diary Version:
For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 to 4 breast halves total) but into cubes
- 1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used sesame oil since I am allergic to peanut)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted it)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) I Cannot Believe It’s Not Butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups canned tomato purée
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup fat free half & half
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional sprigs for garnish
- Naan (Indian flatbread) and/or cooked Basmati Rice
- Equipment: Meat mallet or rolling pin, Microplane
Instructions For Diary Version:
- Marinate the chicken: Use a fork to prick the chicken breasts all over on both sides. Arrange the chicken breasts on a large sheet of plastic wrap, spacing them apart from one another, then cover with a second large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, beat the chicken until the breasts are an even 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut the chicken into cubes. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 tablespoon peanut oil (I use sesame oil), lime juice, and garlic. Add the pounded chicken, and rub the marinade over the meat. Set the chicken aside while you make the sauce.
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, and grated ginger. In a heavy, wide 4-quart pot or sauté pan over moderately high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. (Note that because they are sautéed so quickly over moderately high heat, the onions will not caramelize evenly.) Reduce the heat to moderate then stir in the spice and ginger mixture. Add the tomato purée, water, half & half, and salt, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. DO AHEAD: The sauce can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 3 days.
- While sauce is simmering, cook chicken: Heat a heavy 11- to 12-inch griddle or skillet over moderately high heat until very hot and add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut oil. Working in two batches, cook the chicken breasts, turning them a few times and lowering the heat if the chicken chars too quickly, until just cooked through and browned well on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken as cooked to a cutting board. Wipe the griddle or skillet clean with a paper towel and cook the remaining chicken, adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil between batches.
- Add the chicken to the simmering sauce and continue to gently simmer it, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the black pepper and chopped cilantro, and season with salt. DO AHEAD: Chicken tikka masala can be prepared ahead, cooled, uncovered, and refrigerated, covered, up to 3 days.
- To serve: Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with additional cilantro sprigs. Serve with naan, and/or if desired with Basmati Rice.
Ingredients for diary free version:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 7 tablespoons light olive oil, divided
- 2 T minced garlic, divided
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon coriander, divided
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika, divided
- 1¾ teaspoons sea salt, divided
- 3 tablespoons dairy free plain coconut milk yogurt (or any allowed)
- 2 teaspoons finely grated or minced ginger (dried is not the same!)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or other tomato is fine)
- ½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon honey, or a few drops liquid stevia (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons ghee or allowed vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
Instructions for diary free version:
- Mix your marinade together in a container large enough to accommodate all the chicken: 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1T garlic, 2T lime juice, ½ t coriander, 1t paprika, 1t sea salt and the yogurt. Marinate your chicken for at least 12 hours or better still, 24 hours!
- Preheat a grill to high heat. Place all the chicken in a grill basket, and cook, until very slightly charred. Toss around and cook chicken all the way through. Set aside.
- Make your masala paste.
- In a medium saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons light olive oil or coconut oil over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add in the ginger, garlic, and onion. Cook until the onion if softened, a few minutes.
- Stir in the tomato. Cook to soften the tomato skins: about 3-4 minutes.
- Shovel the mixture into a blender along with all the remaining ingredients. Puree the whole mixture to pulverize the tomato skins.
- Heat the sauce gently over low heat along with the chicken to warm. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed!
Hope you enjoy making your healthy version of my favorite dish. Let me know if you made any changes that worked for you. I always marinate my chicken overnight in the refrigerator just to give it the extra flavor. I know that a lot of people don’t have that patients, but that is out the chef use to do it at my dad’s restaurant at well and the result was mouth watering. Again, I can’t wait to hear your version. Enjoy.