Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

I want to write an ode to curry. I cannot seem to get enough of that blend of vibrant spices with yogurt, coconut milk, or heavy cream.  As a young and foolish child, I never used to order curry when my mom took me to Indian restaurants. The texture looked too weird. I didn’t understand if it was a stew or a sauce.  Instead, I stuck dutifully to my tandoori chicken. While also a delicious meal, I only ordered tandoori chicken because I felt the dish closer resembled more familiar western methods of preparing chicken. I cannot remember that glorious day when I broke down my barriers, entered maturity, and found curry religion. But I bet it was a good meal.

This recipe for chicken tikka masala fits into my quest for diabetic friendly dishes. With only about 40 grams of carbs, or 12% of your daily carb intake, per serving, you don’t have to feel guilty about thirds. Another bonus, these portions are giant in the first place so you might not need thirds or seconds. Also, I’m a high curry to rice ratio kind of girl anyway but in the spirit of being carb conscious I only used half a cup of cooked rice per serving. If you are not as concerned about your carb intake, I would increase to a cup of cooked rice per diner. Though I used low-fat plain yogurt, I did not substitute for the butter and the heavy cream. My boyfriend recently turned fiancé (we’ve only just started working on our choreographed aisle march for YouTube) has type 1 diabetes but is hipster skinny and doesn’t need to worry about his weight. If you want to keep the calories and fat content low, substitute the heavy cream with low-fat cream or half and half.

I was really delighted with this recipe. Sometimes you eat a meal and feel a twang of disappointment knowing a restaurant order would have tasted better. After eating this curry, I thought to myself, I should open a restaurant.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4 (very large portions!)
Adapted from use real butter
About 40 grams of carbs per serving. Only about 12% of your daily carb intake!

2 cups cooked rice (88 grams of carbs)

For the chicken
2 lbs. chicken breast, boneless and skinless (0 grams of carbs)
½ cup olive oil (0 grams)
½ bulb of garlic, minced (7 grams)
2 lime, juiced (14 grams)
½ tsp ground nutmeg (.5 grams)
½ tsp ground curry powder (.5 grams)
1 ½ tsps paprika (1 gram)
½ tsp ground red pepper (cayenne) (.5 grams)
1 ½ tsps salt (0 grams)
1 tsp ground black pepper (0 grams)
4 tbsps plain yogurt (8 grams)

For the masala
1/3 cup olive oil (0 grams)
2 onions, diced (2 grams)
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 grams)
4 tsps peeled and finely grated fresh ginger (0 grams)
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped (14 grams)
 tsps curry powder (1 gram)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (.5 grams)
2 tsps paprika (.5 grams)
1 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne) (.5 grams)
1 ½  tsp salt (0 grams)
1 tsp ground black pepper (0 grams)
2 tsps sugar (8 grams)
4 tbsps butter (0 grams)
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup heavy cream (8 grams)

1. Make the marinade for the chicken: Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch cubes. Place chopped chicken and olive oil in a large ziploc bag or a large bowl with a lid. In a medium bowl, mix together minced garlic, lime juice, nutmeg, curry powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper and yogurt. Cover chicken with mixture and shake bag or stir until well coated if in bowl. Seal or cover and place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

2. Make the masala: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onions become golden brown, stirring frequently, about ten minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chopped tomato. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes until the tomato softens, stirring occasionally. Stir in the nutmeg, curry powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, black pepper and sugar. Let simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Using a hand mixer or blender, blend ingredients together until completely combined and the consistency is that or a very thick sauce. Careful when blending, mixture will be hot. Lower heat to very low, cover, and let simmer while cooking the chicken.

3. When done marinating, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Set oven to broil. For my oven, the first rack setting is a good six inches away from the top of the oven and broil flames, which is perfect for cooking this chicken. If your rack is closer than 6 inches, place rack one rung lower. Coat cooking sheet with a thin layer of oil. Spread chicken evenly on pan. Drizzle chicken with any extra marinade. Cook on broil for 5-7 minutes. Remove pan and carefully turn each piece of chicken with thongs or a fork. Place back in oven and cook 5-7 minutes more. Make sure center of chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from oven, let cool.

4. Turn heat up to medium-high for the masala. Stir in butter, lime juice and heavy cream. Let bubble for a minute or two, stir, and reduce heat to low. Add chicken and let simmer for another 5 to ten minutes. Serve hot.



  1. This is probably my favorite dish, and you make it so colorful. Your pictures have great color and I like your style.

  2. Thanks so much!! It was definitely some beautiful spices and delicious tastes coming together