Chicken Tikka Masala is a classic, right? Yes, a British one! Or not?
Where is chicken tikka masala from?
Well, there are uncountable stories regarding the origins of this extremely tasty and popular dish, with some believing it was invented in the British South Asian communities and others believing it originated in the Indian Subcontinent itself.
Do you want to know the truth? As long as it tastes as good as this recipe, I would eat Chicken Tikka Masala anywhere!
Butter Chicken vs Chicken Tikka Masala
Incredibly similar ingredients are used for these two dishes, yet the flavors are very, very different. Butter chicken barely uses any onion or spices and it mainly relies on tomatoes for the gravy; chicken tikka masala does the same but with an increased quantity of onion and Indian spices.
You can find the full recipe for Butter Chicken here.
Let’s talk nutrition!
This is a chicken-based (the name gives it away) recipe, but this ingredient is known for its high protein content and benefits, therefore I’d like to concentrate on tomatoes, as there are plenty required when cooking chicken tikka masala.
The tomato is a fruit that is native to South America, which is though commonly served and eaten as a vegetable. Tomatoes are known for being bright red when mature, however, they are also found in different colors, such as yellow, orange, green, and even purple; different shapes and flavors of tomatoes exist as well.
Tomatoes are very low in calories (only 18 calories per 100 grams) and their water content is about 95%, with the other 5% being carbohydrates and fiber.
The most known health benefit of tomato is its richness in lycopene, an antioxidant that has been studied and linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as Vitamins B-9, C and K, and potassium; the amount of Vitamins and plant compounds in tomatoes can change a lot depending on the variety chosen, as well as the time of the year.
The most prominent plant compounds present in tomatoes are:
- Lycopene: the aforementioned antioxidant is also a red pigment; this has been largely studied and it is mainly found in the skin of tomatoes. As a rule of thumb, the darker the skin of the tomato, the higher the quantity of lycopene.
- Beta Carotene: This is also an antioxidant that offers coloration to food in the hues of yellow or orange (it is found also in carrots); this compound is converted in your body into Vitamin A.
- Naringenin: Like Lycopene, this is found in the skin of the tomato. Naringenin has been shown to reduce the level of inflammation and protect against different diseases in mice; further studies on its effect on humans are still taking place.
- Chlorogenic Acid: this antioxidant compound may assist in lowering blood pressure in people who suffer from high blood pressure.
Is chicken tikka masala healthy?
This recipe is extremely healthy! This homemade chicken tikka masala recipe uses very little oil and cream and the cooking methods enhance the ingredients without the need for a lot of unnecessary fats. The cream can be reduced or skipped at the end of the recipe, however, these quantities serve four large portions and only two tablespoons of cream are used.
Can I cook this in the instant pot?
Now, there are many things, like stews, soups, sauces that can be cooked and come out perfectly when preparing them in an instant pot however chicken tikka masala is not one of them! The main trick is in the name: for an authentic tasting chicken tikka, the chicken needs to be barbecued, grilled, or roasted – with the two options being good substitutes to the first one, especially during the winter months in Western Countries where barbecues are not an option.
What is chicken tikka masala?
Chicken tikka masala is a rich curry that unites barbecued (tandoori) chicken with a great tomato and onion-based curry that is enriched with cream and fenugreek (methi) leaves.
~~ Love easy chicken curries? Try this Easy Chicken Curry Recipe (with Tomato) | 30-Minute Weight-Loss Friendly Meal and Chili Garlic Chicken Curry (No Tomato) | Easy and Healthy Curry
How many calories in chicken tikka masala?
This recipe, followed as described has only 328 calories per portion, however, the portions are very generous and can be reduced and cream can be decreased as well should the calorie count be a concern.
What does chicken tikka masala taste like?
Chicken tikka masala’s curry is very flavorsome and it tastes like a rich tomato gravy that has been spiced and enriched with cream. The chicken pieces are grilled, barbecued or roasted to give an even deeper and richer flavor.
What to serve with chicken tikka masala?
Chicken tikka masala can be served with simple rice, as well as parathas, chapattis, or even naan bread. If you are trying to keep carbohydrates down, you can serve this dish with some cumin flavored cauliflower rice or some simple cauliflower, just boiled and dressed with a little oil, salt, and pepper.
~~ Looking to eat chicken tikka in other ways? Try these delicious and easy Chicken Tikka Baguettes with Green Chutney Dressed Crunchy Salad
How to make chicken tikka masala?
Preparation is key for this recipe, after which is all plain sailing.
Cube and marinate the chicken in yogurt and spices, then roast, barbecue, or grill as preferred; once fully cooked, set aside.
Prepare a tomato puree’ of deseeded tomatoes, cashews, and cardamoms and set it aside.
Start cooking by preparing the chunky base of tomatoes, onion, ginger, and garlic, then adding the tomato puree, and finally adding the Indian spices.
Once these flavors are all blended, the sauce is enriched with fenugreek leaves, then the chicken is added and finally, the cream is incorporated into the curry.
Serve hot with the preferred side!
Preparing the Chicken Tikka
Note: the black residue under the cooked chicken tikka skewers is the yogurt that has dripped while cooking; I recommend using a piece of parchment paper or kitchen foil to make the cleaning process easier.
Preparing the Tomato Pure'
Preparing the Chicken Tikka Masala
How to make chicken tikka masala vegetarian?
This is very easy! The chicken can be exchanged for paneer, Indian cottage cheese, making the dish vegetarian; paneer can be grilled just like chicken, however, if you are short on time this can be just cubed and added to the gravy or lightly pan-fried with some oil and spices if preferred.
How to make chicken tikka masala vegan?
This is very easy as well as there are only two ingredients that need changing: the chicken and its marinade and the cream. Simply used some firm tofu instead of the chicken and fry it and use vegan cream at the end instead of dairy cream or yogurt.
Can I use low-fat yogurt instead of full fat?
I always use full fat for cooking as it doesn’t split easily, plus it is much more satisfying, meaning I eat less. Should you use low fat, be mindful as this may split while cooking.
Can I freeze chicken tikka masala?
Yes, this recipe can be frozen, just ensure it has fully cooled down before doing so.
You will love this recipe because, after trying different tricks and tweaks, I have found the one that beats any restaurant recipe!
I have divided it into very easy-to-follow steps and you will have it ready in no time at all!
This chicken tikka masala is low in calories, easy to prepare, and ridiculously tasty!
No more excuses to burn your calorie budget (or real one) on takeaway, as this is the ultimate chicken tikka masala fakeaway!
~~ Thinking of rice? Chicken Biryani Recipe | How to make Chicken Biryani | Quick and Easy
Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe | Quick, Easy Restaurant Style Recipe
For the chicken tikka
- 500 g Chicken Breast Skinless and Boneless, Cubed (1.1lb or 17.5 oz)
- 1 ½ Tbsp Full Fat Set Natural Yogurt
- 2 tsp Lemon Juice
- 2 tsp Red Chili Powder I used Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- ½ tsp Coriander Powder
- ½ tsp Cumin Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
For the Tomato Paste
- 4 Medium Tomatoes Chopped, and Deseeded
- 10 Cashew Nuts
- 2 Green Cardamoms
For the Curry Base
- 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil I used Sunflower Oil
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Garlic Chopped
- 220 g Fresh Onion Thinly Chopped (0.5 lbs or 7.8 oz)
- 150 g Fresh Tomatoes Thinly Chopped (0.35 lbs or 5.5 oz)
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Red Chili Powder I used Kashmiri Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
- 1 tbsp Dry Fenugreek Leaves Methi
- ½ tsp Caster Sugar
- 2 tbsp Double Cream
- Water as Needed
Prepare the Chicken Tikka
- Start by marinating the chicken in all the marinade ingredients for at least half an hour. Once these are marinated well, skew them on a skewer and cooked them following your preferred method; I have done so in a Fan Oven which I preheated to 180 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas Mark 6, or 200 degrees Celsius static oven) where I roasted them for 30 minutes. Ensure the chicken is fully cooked no matter the method chosen (grill, barbeque, roast).
Prepare the Tomato Paste
- In a grinder, put the 10 cashew nuts and the two green cardamoms and grind until powdered; once these are powdered add the four chopped and deseed tomatoes and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Start preparing the curry base
- In a large pan, add the two tablespoons of oil and warm up on low to medium heat; once the oil is warm, add the chopped ginger and garlic and cook until the smell of rawness of the garlic has gone.
- Add the onions and mix with a pinch of salt; cook until the onions are golden in color, which will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- At this stage add the chopped tomatoes, mix well, put a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low; this will allow the tomatoes to fully cook and become mushy.
- The tomatoes should be mushy after approximately 5 minutes, at which stage the tomato-cardamom-cashew puree can be added to the pan. Add 300ml of water (10 oz) to the pan (you can clean out the remaining puree with it before), mix well and apply the lid to the pan again and allow to cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes.
Putting the Chicken Tikka Masala together: last steps
- Remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat to medium; add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, and garam masala powder to the pan and allow the spices to cook, which should take a maximum of 2 minutes. You will know the spices have cooked once the smell changes and they start separating from the oil.
- (OPTIONAL STEP) While the spices cook, put the dry fenugreek leaves on a small kitchen towel or in a ceramic pot and microwave for 15-20 seconds; this will make the leaves easier to crush between your palms and will release the fenugreek’s aroma.
- Take the dry fenugreek leaves between your palms and crush them into the curry.
- Add half a teaspoon of caster sugar and mix well.
- At this stage, adjust the water and salt level of the gravy; if you want your gravy more liquid, add some water and salt and bring to a simmer, if you like the consistency, just check for salt.
- At this stage of the recipe, add the chicken tikka cubes and mix well; allow the chicken cubes to simmer in the gravy for 3-4 minutes, then add the cream.
- Mix well and serve with your chosen accompaniment!
- Should you wish, this can be served with some additional cream or a lump of butter, but remember to add the calories if you are counting.