A Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala + Indian-Spiced Kale with Chickpeas

 

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
Serves 4

Ingredients
1.5 lbs chicken thighs, poked with a fork, cut into 1 inch pieces
6 tbsp Tandoori Paste
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
Peanut Oil
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

Directions
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
Serves 4

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

 

Sometimes your best meals are impromptu and deliciously unexpected. Adrian and I were really hungry, but weren’t sure we had anything on hand to make for dinner. That is… until we saw a bunch of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil in our garden, begging to be cooked up into a sauce!

We found that we had a partially used box of fettuccine noodles, a little bit of parmesan, and frozen guanciale from a lovely farm in Davis. Scouring our pasta recipes, we adapted one by by Scott Conant featured on Serious Eats, but simplified it a bit. I’m not kidding when I say that this is definitely the most delicious pastas we’ve ever made and possibly ever eaten (sorry Scott!). I can’t quite vouch for this being the healthiest thing you’ll eat all week, but that’s okay on occasion! A little guanciale or bacon every now and then is perfectly fine. Just serve this one with a side salad, and this Diet Assassinista says you’re good to go.

 

Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4-6
Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients
Ripe plum tomatoes, 20
Ice
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Butter, 2 tbsp
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped
Basil, 1 small bunch, chopped
Guanciale, ½ cup, chopped
1 lb. dry fettuccine noodles
Parmesan Reggiano, 1 oz , about ½ cup , grated

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes in the pot and cook. Let boil for about 15 seconds or until skins appear loose and promptly move them into the waiting ice water. Do this with remaining tomatoes.

Pull off the skin of the tomatoes with the tip of a pairing knife. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze tomatoes to take the seeds and a little juice out. Reserve juice if needed to thin pasta later.

In a wide pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and sauté until soft, 30-60 seconds. Add the tomatoes. Stir in basil, guanciale, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and season very lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften and then use a potato masher to break them up finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Cook fettucine noodles in separate pot to 90% of doneness, reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add noodles to tomato sauce and cook for about 3 minutes, until sauce is incorporated. If dry, add some reserved tomato juice and/or pasta water. Serve pasta garnished with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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Tacos Los Tres Amigos

 

I’m calling this recipe Tacos Los Tres Amigos because I like consuming tacos in threes. Sometimes I go over my calorie allotment and just eat a little less for my next meal. And that’s totally okay! It’s adapted from a delicious recipe by Rick Bayless. I’m not quite sure anymore, but I’m pretty sure he’s the one that introduced me to the really interesting and yummy herb epazote. Using epazote is optional here and you can use more cheese to make up for the omission. It is available at many Mexican grocery stores, so if you have those in your area, definitely check them out! It’s funny because before I was growing it in my garden, I had to trek a few miles to the store to buy it. But last year when I stayed in Baja California, it was growing wild everywhere. In any case, I’m always curious about new things and if you are too, don’t miss out on this one!

 

Tacos Los Tres Amigos

Servings: 8-12 Tacos
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
1.5 lbs small boiling potatoes, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil + additional to fry tortillas
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
6 medium fresh poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
Salt
8 oz crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese
16 leaves epazote, chopped (optional)
8-12 corn tortillas, lightly fried in olive oil

Directions
Simmer the potatoes in salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool under running water, peel and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

Heat the oil in a heavy medium-size skillet over medium. Add the onion and potato, and fry, stirring regularly to ensure that nothing sticks to the pan, until the mixture is richly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are browning, seed the chiles and roughly chop. Stir them into the potato mixture and season with salt to taste. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Fry corn tortillas in olive oil over medium heat. Fill with potato filling, fold in half, and serve with your favorite hot sauce.