It’s January. I’m skint and that, combined with my need to sift some post-Christmas ‘timber’, means that Indian takeaways are firmly off the menu for now. Thankfully, low-cal chicken tikka masala from the Hairy Dieters is a brilliant ‘plan B’. In fact, it tastes so good that this could become ‘plan A’ going forward.
Do take the trouble to marinate the chicken overnight if you can as the flavours, particularly the ginger, intensify which makes the end result really satisfying. Personally, I left the salt out of this dish because I’m not a fan and I don’t think the recipe needs it but see what you think. Please note, the calories listed below DO NOT include rice or naan. A small piece of bread satisfies me when mopping up the sauce and the dish will still come in at under 500 cals.
Prep does take a while but this is a doddle to make. The only ‘health and safety’ precaution I need to make is to momentarily ‘strip off’ when blending the sauce with a stick blender as I tend to get it all down my top and up the walls if I’m not careful. It’s not just me, right?
Recipe: Low-cal chicken tikka masala
Calories: 302 calories per serving WITHOUT rice or naan bread
Book: Hairy Dieters – Eat for Life
Prep time: Approx 30 minutes
Cooking time: Approx 25 minutes
Ingredients: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 150g each), 1 tsp sunflower oil
Marinade: 2 tbsp medium curry powder, 1 ½ 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 plain fat-free yoghurt
Sauce: 1 tbsp sunflower oil, 2 medium onions (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 15g chunk of fresh root ginger (peeled and finely grated), 1 tbsp medium curry powder, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp flaked sea salt, 350ml cold water, 2 tbsp double or single cream, fresh coriander sprigs (to garnish)
Cost per portion: Approx £1.60
Method: 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 of water into the pan, and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat 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 (the Hairy Dieters have a dedicated page on different types of rice towards the back of this book) and a large mixed salad if you like with some fresh coriander sprigs.