Chicken Tikka Masala

I’m posting this one with no photo mostly because I had some friends request the recipe. It is suitable for the maintenance phase of a low-carb lifestyle so long as you omit the rice. I choose to pair it with a leafy veg side dish and if I’m feeling celebratory I will maybe have a small piece of low carb bread to go with it. If you want a bread that doesn’t taste low carb I like the to toast HALF a piece of the “light Original Flat out Wraps” which comes to 3 grams of carbs after you sub out the fiber. Seriously, it tastes like bread, I don’t know how they do it.

This recipe is fairly heavy on cream but I’ll make no apologies. I think full fat dairy is delicious, satisfying, and very filling. You won’t have to eat much of this dish to be properly full for a long time especially if you pair it with a good side of veggies. I never use food coloring because I find it unnecessary but if you want to be more authentic you can add 1/4 tsp tandoori food coloring to the chicken marinade which you can purchase at most Indian grocers. My version of this recipe isn’t strictly authentic anyways, so if you’re a purist, consider yourself warned. I’ve also omitted most of the chilli pepper heat to make it more palatable to my milk-mouthed husband and also to children. Feel free to spice it back up with some cayenne or any other powdered peppers you prefer.

The spice mixes can all be purchased at World Spice Merchants. If you’re lucky enough to live near Seattle, they have a shop at Pike Place Market. You can also order online and I’ve included links below, just click on the spices in the recipe.

Marinade the day before:

  • 1/2 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs kashmiri garam masala – ground (you can use regular garam masala if you like but I prefer the kashmiri version)
  • 1 Tbs tikka masala spice mix – ground
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 lemon – grated
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped
  • 2″ section of ginger – peeled and thinly sliced against the grain
  • 1/2 cup cilantro – roughly chopped stems and all
  • 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works very well)
  • 1 to 1.5 lbs chicken breast – cubed about 1 to 1.5 inches
  • salt to taste (if you grill over propane I like to use some alderwood smoked salt to give it better flavor)
  1. Into a food processor add the paprika through cilantro and pulse until everything finely chopped. Make sure the ginger and garlic have no large pieces left. Add the yogurt and pulse into a paste. Add to the cubed chicken breast and mix thoroughly. Chill and marinade overnight.

Grilling and Stewing – the day of:

  • 1 recipe chicken tikka (above) marinated from the day before
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or ghee
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot (or half an american shallot) – finely chopped
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves of garlic – crushed and then minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbs Tikka Masala spice mix – ground
  • 1x 14 oz can of finely diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tbs kashmiri garam masala – ground
  • a pinch of coconut sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (you can substitute up to a few tablespoons of it with 2% or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbs ground almonds
  • salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Put your chicken on skewers (pre-soak if using wooden ones) and grill over low-medium heat to cook with minimal charring but so that the chicken is cooked through. Reserve the left over marinade.
  2. Into a deep walled, heavy pan over low-medium heat cook the onions and cardamom until the onions become translucent and begin to brown, stirring often.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then add the tikka masala and cinnamon. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute or until the spices warm and become fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften, loose shape, and the sauce becomes thick and almost paste-like. This may take 30 minutes or more, lower the heat if necessary to prevent sticking to the pan or burning.
  5. Add the garam masala and coconut sugar (optional) and then the cream, almonds, and the grilled chicken masala. Stir and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the chicken is warmed through.
  6. Add salt to taste and serve garnished with cilantro. If you can have brown basmati rice as part of your diet or whole-wheat naan bread serve accordingly. Low-carb substitutes would be cauliflower rice or 1/2 a light original flat out wrap (toasted).

Punjabi Dal Makhani – Indian Comfort Food

Healthy, hearty and comforting.

The name is a bit intimidating and exotic. But if you’ve had the pleasure of having Trader Joe’s Madras Lentils and you’ve wondered how they came up with something so tasty…. Well, I can tell you this. They took notes from a tried and true dish that has been eaten in India for a very long time. By calling it Madras lentils they promise something familiar, the humble lentil, combined with exotic spices. And that is exactly what this dish is. It is comforting and exotic all at once. I love Trader Joe’s version, I have nothing bad to say about it. But being that I am me, and I love to cook, I was inspired to find a way to make this dish from scratch. I also wanted to discover the non-Americanized version and see for myself how it compares. Continue reading

Indian Bhaji – Veggies With Some Serious Flavor

Vegetable Bhaji – colorful, healthy, and tasty

There was once a little vegetarian Indian restaurant not too far from my house. The first time I went there I ordered Pav Bhaji, which is a meal of spiced smashed veggies served with bread buns. I was hooked after the first bite. I tried other dishes over the years: Dosas, different veggie curries, etc. They were all good, but when the restaurant closed down I was literally almost traumatized that I might never have my Pav Bhaji again. I still have yet to find another Indian restaurant that serves them and is local to me. So after years of griping, I finally got off my butt and decided to do some research. Continue reading

Ingredient Spotlight – Fenugreek Leaves

Chicken with vegetables in a thick and savory sauce

For a while now I’ve been challenging myself to try new ingredients. I love world cuisine, but like many self-taught home cooks, sometimes I get intimidated by trying to create or recreate wonderful dishes I’ve had served to me by native cooks. Two years ago, my friend took myself and my husband to an Indian restaurant that I’d never been to before. They had this wonderful dish of murg methi (chicken with fenugreek leaves in a curry-like sauce) that was quite literally one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in my life. The flavor profile was bold but balanced and, while I’m sure it was horrible for me it tasted devine.

A few months ago, I picked up some dried methi leaves. They have been sitting in my spice cabinet all this time. I picked them up after chatting with my friend about that memorable dish. All three of us (she myself and my husband) remember it quite fondly. I had ordered it but the three of us had gobbled it up together and barely even touched the other two dishes, although to be fair, they were very tasty too. I told her I was dying to go back and eat it again and that we should all go back together. Sadly, she told me she had gone back a few times over the past few years. Perhaps they changed cooks or management, but she informed me that she had been very disappointed in the dish since.

I realized that it was up to me to find a way to make myself a substitute. Continue reading