Our Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala is made up of juicy and tender chunks of chicken that have been marinated and grilled and then stirred into a delicious creamy mild sauce. Bursting with garlic, ginger and spices, this an easy curry that the whole family will love, and it tastes far more indulgent than it is.
We have made a classic Indian takeaway order that little bit healthier, so you can still enjoy your Friday night curry without feeling sluggish after. This Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala is creamy, with a hint of spice, but doesn't have all the ghee and cream that you would usually find in a takeaway curry. But it still tastes just as delicious.
What you will love it
- A classic curry made at home
- Healthier and cheaper than ordering
- Mild enough for kids to enjoy
- Freezes well
- Easy to add lots of vegetables to
- Chicken - we used chicken breasts to keep this curry lean, however you could swap them for boneless and skinless chicken thighs for a juicier curry.
- Tikka seasoning - you can use your own blend of spices, however we used a good quality store bought tikka seasoning to save time. It is made up of paprika, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and other spices.
- Yogurt - we used plain natural yoghurt and found that is what works best in this curry. It is for the chicken marinade and for the sauce to make it nice and creamy.
- Onion - this forms the base of the paste. You could swap it for shallots which tend to be a bit sweeter.
- Garlic and ginger - fresh is always best when it comes to these. However, you can save yourself some time by using jars of lazy garlic and ginger.
- Tomatoes - a tin of chopped or plum tomatoes is what you need for this recipe. Use the best quality that you can get, as you will honestly taste the difference. Cheap tinned tomatoes can be too watery and that won't make the best sauce.
- Stock - this helps to loosen the sauce a little. Use a low salt version if you are making this for kids. You could use a homemade chicken stock.
- Almonds - you don't have to add these to the curry, however we find that it adds a really nice texture to the curry.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Add all the ingredients for the chicken to a bowl. Mix well, cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
Two: Put the onion, garlic and ginger into a food processor (a). Blend to form a smooth paste (b). Alternatively, you could use a pestle and mortar.
Three: Heat a little oil in a pan and add the onion paste. Gently cook for 2 minutes.
Four: Add the tikka seasoning, tomatoes, stock and coriander. Stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Five: Preheat your grill (broiler) and thread the marinated chicken onto skewers (pre-soaked if using wooden) (a). Put the chicken skewers under the grill (broiler) and cook for 15 minutes, turning regularly (b).
Six: Blend the sauce so it is smooth.
Seven: Add the yogurt and almonds. Mix well and gently heat.
Eight: Once the chicken is cooked through, add to the sauce. Stir so the chicken is coated.
Nine: Serve the healthy chicken tikka masala over rice with naan breads, mango chutney and raita (all optional).
What makes it healthy?
We all love an indulgent Indian takeaway, however sometimes it can leave you feeling really sluggish from all the oil, butter and cream. That's why we try to make our own light versions at home as often as possible, and it saves us money too. Healthy is such a subjective work, but a few changes to the classic recipe certainly makes this lighter.
To start with, we have used just a little olive oil to cook the onion, garlic and ginger, however you could use an oil spray to use even less oil. We haven't added any butter or ghee, because although they do add some extra flavour, they add a lot of extra fat too. We find this curry it still delicious without it.
The creaminess in this curry comes from natural yoghurt (that is also used in the marinade of the chicken pieces) rather than double cream. We think that this curry still tastes really creamy and indulgent, but lower in fat.
You can also add some extra vegetables to this if you like. Why not add some finely diced mushrooms, courgette, aubergine or bell pepper to the pan at the same time as the onion paste. You could also stir in some spinach or peas to the sauce at the same time as the chicken to give the dish a veggie boost.
What to serve it with
Curry goes perfectly with rice, which soaks up all that incredible creamy sauce. You could just go with plain basmati rice, or why not try our Turmeric Rice for something a little different. You could swap rice for quinoa for a protein boost.
Soft and fluffy bread is always a good option with curry too, so why not try making our Homemade Flatbreads - they are so simple. And then dip them in some of our homemade cucumber raita or mango chutney.
Chicken Tikka Masala has been adopted as one of the UK's national dishes and until recently topped the nations favourite dish chart for several years running. While many assume that Tikka Masala is an Indian dish, it was actually developed in the early 1970s in Glasgow, by a Pakistani chef experimenting with a sauce made from yoghurt, cream and spices. If you have the Hungry Healthy Happy book , then you may have already tried this recipe before and it is certainly a favourite in our house.
For ease, we threaded the chicken on to skewers and then put them under the grill, however you could cook them on a griddle pan or even on a BBQ.
Yes, you could make it in a slow cooker. We like the chicken a little bit crispy, which is why grilling it is always the best option. However, cooking it in the slow cooker means you can just dump it and leave. Take a look at our Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.
We prefer to use chicken breasts as they are leaner which helps to make this a healthier version of this classic curry. However, you could swap them for boneless and skinless chicken breasts which are a lot juicier. However, marinating and grilling the chicken helps to keep it really tender.
Yes, you can make parts of it ahead of time. You can marinate the chicken and it will keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The sauce can also be made a day in advance and then once cooled it can be kept in the fridge. Then when you are ready to eat it, you can grill the chicken and heat up the sauce to add the chicken to.
You don't have to, however we think it really makes a difference and if you want that authentic curry house taste, then blending is the way to go. It only adds a minute or two on to the recipe.
If you have fully cooked the dish, but have some left over, then you can cool it and store it in an air tight container and it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can also freeze it in a freezable container for up to 3 months.
To reheat, make sure it is fully defrosted and then you can heat it through in a pan. Make sure it is piping hot before serving.
More curry recipes
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Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala
For the chicken:
- 400 g (14 oz) Chicken breast - cut into bite size chunks
- 2 Garlic clove - crushed
- 3 tablespoon Plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon Tikka seasoning
For The Sauce:
- 1 Onion - diced
- 3 Garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon Fresh ginger - grated
- 80 ml (0.33 cups) Chicken stock - (or vegetable)
- 400 g (14.11 oz) Chopped tomatoes - canned
- 2 tablespoon Tikka seasoning
- 10 g (0.66 cups) Fresh coriander (cilantro) - finely chopped
- 4 tablespoon Plain yogurt
- 20 g (0.25 cups) ground almonds
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- Add 400 g Chicken breast, 2 Garlic clove, 3 tablespoon Plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon Tikka seasoning to a bowl. Mix well, cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Put 1 Onion, 3 Garlic clove and 1 teaspoon Fresh ginger into a food processor. Blend to form a smooth paste. Alternatively, you could use a pestle and mortar.
- Heat 1 tablespoon Olive oil in a pan and add the onion paste. Gently cook for 2 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoon Tikka seasoning, 400 g Chopped tomatoes, 80 ml Chicken stock and 10 g Fresh coriander (cilantro). Stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Preheat your grill (broiler) and thread the marinated chicken onto skewers (pre-soaked if using wooden). Put the chicken skewers under the grill (broiler) and cook for 15 minutes, turning regularly.
- Blend the sauce so it is smooth.
- Add 4 tablespoon Plain yogurt and 20 g ground almonds. Mix well and gently heat.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, add to the sauce. Stir so the chicken is coated.
- Serve over Rice with Naan bread, Mango chutney and Raita (all optional).
- Make sure to soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes before threading the chicken on to them. This ensures that they don't burn when cooking.
- If you don't cut your chicken in to large pieces, then you won't need to turn them half way through cooking.
- If you want to make this curry spicier, then you can add some chilli powder to the chicken marinade, and to the sauce marinade. You could also add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes before serving.
- You don't have to add the ground almonds, but we find that it gives the sauce a really nice texture.
- You could make a vegetarian version of this by swapping the chicken for chickpeas, halloumi/paneer or even just loads of vegetables. Make up a big pan of sauce and then swap the chicken for a veggie alternative.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.