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Chicken Tikka Masala


Sundays are supposed to be for calm, relaxing family time. But as always, I get stressed about making the perfect meal for my family. I want our Sunday evenings to be special and in my family, special includes an extraordinary meal.

The problem is, cozy Sunday nights in tend to call for comfort food. In order to please their palates and have something slightly healthier than pizza, we normally decide to order in Indian food.

Take-out is tasty but I still don’t like not knowing where my food comes from. This past week, inspired by the fresh ghee in my pantry, I decided to try my hand in recreating one of our Sunday night staples, Chicken Tikka Masala.

I had a seen a recipe on Pamela Salzman’s website and since I love everything she does I knew this was my golden ticket. I loved how she cleaned up the traditional ingredients with healthier versions. My family loves lots of spice so I added in some turmeric, cardamon, red chili flakes and sprinkled with fresh cilantro.

Typically this recipe calls for heavy cream, I followed Pamela’s cue and switched over to full-fat coconut milk. It also requires yogurt and I opted for a goat’s milk yogurt which is easier on your digestive system than cow’s milk yogurt.

By cleaning up this Eastern classic with a few exciting substitutions, I was able to achieve all of the vibrant, complex flavors without any compromise of a clean-eating approach. The lesson is learned: it’s always possible to create a clean version of any dish, it just takes a little research and creativity.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4-6


3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 T sea salt, divided

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground turmeric

4 cardamon pods, crushed

½ tsp red chile flakes

28 oz. diced tomatoes

½ cup plain goat’s milk yogurt

2-3 T ghee

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 T garam masala

1 T coconut sugar

1 cup full fat coconut milk

fresh cilantro for serving

basmati rice for serving


Combine 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 T garam masala and 1 tsp salt in a small bowl. Place chicken in a 9×12 baking dish, and rub the chicken on both sides with spice mix. Pour yogurt over spiced chicken and turn so it’s coated well. Use more yogurt as needed. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours before cooking.

Preheat broiler to high and set oven rack on second level. Line a baking sheet with foil and place wire rack on top of baking sheet. Place chicken on top of rack and broil for 5-7 minutes on each side until lightly charred. Chicken should be cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 T of the ghee.  Add the onion and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic, ginger, 1 T garam masala, red chile flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander and a pinch of salt and mix well.

Add diced tomatoes and continue to cook, scraping up brown bits from the pan. Add sugar and simmer for about 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Stir in coconut milk. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized chunks. Add to sauce and simmer until heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over Basmati Rice.




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