Low-Cal Chicken Tikka Masala

low cal chicken tikka masala

Who doesn’t love Chicken Tikka Masala from their favourite Indian restaurant or local takeaway? As everyone knows though, the number of calories can go through the roof particularly if you add lashings of pilau rice, naan bread and lager / wine (guilty as charged!).

I’m not going to lie, this Hairy Dieters Low-Cal Chicken Tikka Masala ‘fakeaway’ may not be like the ‘real’ thing, but I’d also be lieing if I said this lighter version doesn’t taste bloody fantastic, for several hundred calories less! Like most home-made curries, there’s a bit of prep work involved but it’s absolutely worth it.

I actually prefer this Hairy Dieters dish to their Masala-marinated chicken recipe from their first book which I featured in a previous blog. For a start you don’t need to use 10 or so spices to achieve a great flavour and you can use skinless chicken breasts instead of needing to faff about with a whole chicken.

The cost to make will set you back considerably less than the price of a takeaway, too. You’ll love it but to keep the calories under 500, decide whether you’re having a small portion of rice OR naan bread as this meal is sufficiently filling so it doesn’t need both.

Dish: Low-Cal Chicken Tikka Masala

Book: Hairy Dieters 2 (yellow book) p103

Serves: 4

Calories: 302 per portion (without rice or naan bread)

Prep: Approx  30 minutes

Cooking time: Approx 30 minutes

Approx cost per portion: £1.48 (without rice or naan bread)

Ingredients: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 150g), 1 tsp sunflower oil

Marinade: 2 tbsp. medium curry powder, 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (not hot smoked), 1 tsp flaked sea salt, 15g chunk of fresh root ginger (peeled and finely grated), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 6 tbsp. fat-free yoghurt

Sauce: 1 tbsp. sunflower oil, 2 medium onions (chopped), 1 tbsp medium curry powder, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp flaked sea salt, 350 ml cold water, 2 tbsp double or single cream, fresh coriander sprigs (to garnish)

Instructions: To make the marinade, mix the curry powder, paprika and salt in a large bowl. Add the ginger, garlic and yoghurt and stir until well combined. Cut each chicken breast into 7-9 pieces. Stir the chicken pieces into the marinade and mix until the chicken is well coated. Cover, chill and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour but ideally up to 4 hours or even overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Tip the onions, garlic and ginger into the pan, cover with a lid and gently fry for 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned and very soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the curry powder to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato puree, caster sugar and salt and fry for a further 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Pour the 350ml water into the pan, and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the hear and use a hand blender to blitz the sauce until as smooth as possible. Set aside.

Heat the teaspoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan and stir-fry the marinated chicken for about 3 minutes over a medium-high heat until lightly coloured.

Pour your masala sauce into the pan, add the cream and cook for 3-4 minutes longer, stirring until the chicken is tender and cooked through, with no pinkness remaining. Add a little extra water if the sauce seems too thick.

Serve with some rice (see page 178-179 of the Hairy Dieters second book for various options) and a large mixed salad if you like and garnish with some fresh coriander sprigs I don’t bother).


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