Indian food is so delicious, but you might not deem it healthy and only save it for a cheat day. But I beg you to think differently! If you cook curry in your own kitchen (it’s not daunting at all), you can see exactly what’s going into it, and it can not only be diet friendly, but extremely healthy to boot. My recipe below uses little in the way of saturated fat, and only utilizes a few tablespoons of peanut oil and a little bit of yogurt. The results? Exceptional.
I hear the word “clean eats” being thrown around a lot, but I think it’s a term that is not well-defined and can be misleading. Some might think that “clean eats” is only eating raw, or only eating really basic foods, liked steamed chicken breast and broccoli.
I am here to tell you that this chicken tikka masala meets MY definition of clean eats. This is because the dish is well-balanced with protein, carbs, and fat, and has several spices and herbs that are super good for you. While turmeric and garlic are anti-inflammatory, cumin and cayenne may promote weight loss, fenugreek is rich in minerals, and garam masala is a wonderful mix of several extremely healthful spices. Studies have shown many spices used in Indian cuisine also serve as antioxidants and may play a role in cancer prevention.
So here is my recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala. I’ve also paired it with a recipe from EatingWell that is a great way to use up any kale you have growing in your garden! Plus the garbanzos add just a little extra fiber to really round out this dish.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Time: 1 Hour
1.5 lbs chicken thighs, poked with a fork, cut into 1 inch pieces
6 tbsp Tandoori Paste
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 serrano chilis, deseeded, chopped
1″ piece of ginger, peeled, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 lb roma tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
5 cashews (optional)
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 cup cilantro, chopped
Steamed basmati rice + mint chutney, to serve
Preheat oven to 400F.
Add chicken, tandoori paste, and Greek yogurt to a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Transfer to refrigerator and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and browned.
Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of peanut oil in a pan. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 4-6 minutes. Add serrano chilis, ginger, garlic, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Then add turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, fenugreek, and cook for a few more minutes.
Transfer the sauce to a food processor with cashews and blend until very smooth.
Return sauce to the same pan and add 1 tbsp peanut oil. Add chicken and its juices to the pan to reheat. Stir in yogurt and 1/2 cup cilantro. Serve with mint chutney over rice.
Indian-Spiced Kale & Chickpeas
Time: 25 Minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1 1/2 pounds kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped (see Tip)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garam masala, (see Ingredient note)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add kale and cook, tossing with two large spoons, until bright green, about 1 minute. Add broth, coriander, cumin, garam masala and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in chickpeas; cover and cook until the chickpeas are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.