How to Make Low-Fat Chicken Tikka Masala
How to Make Chicken Tikka Masala
I am one of those types of cooks that can never stick to the exact recipe. I always have the urge to "healthify" a favorite comfort dish. And to me, Indian food is one of those comfort foods. At least it used to be. Now it's one of my reliable main dishes.
The chicken is marinated with spices and yogurt, grilled to give it a smoky flavor. You may recognize it as a curry-type dish with pieces of chicken served in a thick, rich and creamy tomato-based sauce.
When I was first introduced to chicken tikka masala, I thought it was a complicated food, presented with many depths of flavors. My initial reaction, besides holding my breath while inhaling the spices, was "There must be a lot of ingredients in here. Can I cook this?"
Yes, indeed there are many ingredients to this dish due to the numerous spices. However it's quite easy to make. And the result will blow you away. Not only is it healthier, but also lower fat and waist-friendly.
And the next question was, "Can I make a healthier version of chicken tikka masala?"
Definitely! You can make any dish healthier if you know which ingredients to swap for. Good substitutions for original food can be tricky, and I've tried a few different substitutions. I am finally satisfied with this particular one.
Origins of Tikka Masala
It's not from India! The true origins of this dish is disputed.
Chicken masala might be a popular dish that is introduced to people as Indian food, but some claim that it was invented in Britain, when a chef added tomato soup, some spices, and yogurt to a dry chicken dish.
What Makes This Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe Healthier?
- The recipe calls for plain, non-fat Greek yogurt and if your scale allows it, you can even use regular Greek yogurt. This type of yogurt is better than regular yogurt when it comes to protein content and creamy texture. You'd be surprised that it contains twice the amount of protein and higher in calcium. Greek yogurt has less carbohydrates, so this recipe is also diabetic friendly.
- I used nonfat half-and-half instead of the original heavy cream. This cuts out a lot of the fat, yet still maintains the creamy texture. By the way, the tomato sauce is enough to make it thick. Obviously it will not be as thick as the original dish, but the sacrifice is well worth it.
- Spices like cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper, and paprika are all beneficial to your health!
- Personally I prefer to use organic butter over oil, which gives it a richer flavor. Do not be afraid of organic butter made from grass-fed cow's milk! As long as it's organic, there are still vitamins. You can substitute 1 tablespoon of organic butter.
Ingredients for Tikka Masala Sauce
- 1 tablespoon organic butter (optional: vegetable/olive oil)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 can of tomato sauce (8 ounce)
- 1 cup fat-free half-and-half
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
|Serving size: 6|
|Calories from Fat||27|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 3 g||5%|
|Sugar 3 g|
|Fiber 2 g||8%|
|Protein 12 g||24%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Ingredients for Chicken Masala Marinade
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon gresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt, (or to taste)
- 3 boneless chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon garam masala spice
Garam Masala Spice Blend
Garam masala is a special blend of spices used in Indian cooking, meaning "hot mixture" in Hindi.
You can find it in the Asian supermarket or even a Whole Foods. It usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander.
Instructions: Easy Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
Simple Chicken Marinade
I prefer to grill the chicken for two reasons: (1) I love the smokey flavor and (2) I love using my grill! You can also place your marinated chicken in the oven and broil it. You can even cook it on cast-iron pan or dutch oven.
- Cut up the chicken breast into 1-inch cubes, or however size and shape you want. 1-inch is a perfect bite size for me.
- In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Stir in the chicken cubes and let it bath and relax for at least an hour. The longer you leave them in there, the more flavor and happy the chicken will be.
- After the chicken has been marinated, put them through the skewers. Grill them for about 5 minutes on each side, until the juices are gone.
Marinade the Chicken and Grill It!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Meanwhile, Prepare the Tikka Masala Sauce...
- Melt organic butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Note: You can also use a regular heavy pan that is large enough to hold all the chicken and the sauce.
- Sauté garlic and jalapenos for about a minute.
- Stir in cumin, paprika, and salt.
- Stir in tomato sauce and half-and-half.
- Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
- Add the grilled-chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a large serving patter or bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro.
How to Make the Tikka Masala SauceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Dinner Is Served, My Friends...
Your chicken tikka masala should be finished in about 30 minutes. Actually, you'll know when your whole house is filled with the aroma of the intense spice. Lock your front door because your neighbors might be knocking. Seriously, this dish smells so strong and wonderful that they will be able to smell it a mile away.
This healthier and low-fat version of chicken tikka masala is best served with basmati rice. But...since we've got a healthy theme going on here...who says you can't eat it with brown rice for added nutrients?
What are you waiting for? Let's eat!