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Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala

This classic recipe has influence from both Indian and British cultures. It’s incredibly flavorful from all the spices and has just enough heat without being too spicy. Traditionally served in a copper bowl with a handle, this recipe’s color can shine when paired with a bit of white rice.

Prep time: approximately 40 minutes
Cook time: approximately 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Serves: 4
Serving size: approximately 1⅓ cup chicken tikka masala, ¼ cup white rice

Ingredients

For the masala paste:

  • 3 cups chopped Vidalia onions
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3-inch piece ginger
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

For the main dish:

  • 1 pound raw chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • ¼ cup masala paste (above), divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree
  • 7 ounces coconut milk (½ can)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, divided

Instructions

For the masala paste:

Add all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Use 1⁄4 cup for the recipe above and freeze the rest for later use. Recipe makes about 3 cups in total.

For the main dish:

Add chicken, yogurt, and 2-3 tablespoons masala paste to a resealable bag or covered container. Marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Add oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chicken until partially cooked through. Then remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add the reserved masala paste (approximately ⅛ cup) to the same skillet and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add tomato puree and chicken. Simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow sauce to thicken and chicken to cook through.

Remove from heat, stir in coconut milk, and season with salt to taste. Let stand 5-7 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Meanwhile, mix together cooked rice and 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves.

Spoon chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with remaining cilantro leaves. Serve.

MOBE kitchen tip:

  • Garam masala is a blend of ground spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, coriander, and cumin. It is readily available in most supermarkets in the spice aisle.
  • Garam masala is an essential ingredient in this recipe. If you cannot find it, use a store-bought tikka masala simmer sauce. If you do this, do not use the coconut milk and tomato puree in the main dish.

Recipe notes:

  • To make this dish plant-based, use equal portions of beans, peas, cauliflower, or tofu in place of the chicken.
  • This recipe makes about 3 cups of masala paste, so freeze the extra for future meals.
  • If you prefer, grilled chicken can be used instead of sautéed chicken. Grill uncooked chicken pieces on a cleaned and oiled grill on high heat for about 5 minutes (do not fully cook chicken). Remove from heat and add to prepared sauce. Simmer and follow serving instructions above.
  • Coconut milk needs to be stirred well before using it in this recipe. You can use the remaining coconut milk from this recipe (½ can) to make a smaller amount of this delicious Blueberry-Orange Crème Mousse (it will be enough for half of this dessert recipe).

Nutrition facts per serving

Calories: 370 / Total Fat: 9g (12% DV) / Saturated Fat: 3g (15% DV) / Trans Fat: 0g / Cholesterol: 120mg (40% DV) / Sodium: 955mg (42% DV) / Total Carbohydrate: 32g (11% DV) / Dietary Fiber: 1g (4% DV) / Total Sugars: 6g / Added Sugar: 1g (2% DV) / Protein: 40g / Vitamin D: 0mcg (0% DV) / Calcium: 179mg (15% DV) / Iron: 2mg (10% DV) / Potassium: 817mg (15% DV)

Allergen statement: contains milk and coconut.

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