Chicken Tikka Masala

My favorite Indian dish of all time is Chicken Tikka Masala. At least I think it is my favorite. After I had it for the first time, there are very few other dishes that I’ve tried! We just returned from a trip abroad and I tried tikka masala in every  city we visited. Now that we are back, I’ve been craving it. This week, Joe challenged me to make my own chicken tikka masala. For this challenge, I was allowed to do some research. I’ve included the resources I consulted at the end of this post and you’ll see that I pulled bits and pieces from different recipes.

I started with a marinade for the chicken. It included 3 tablespoons greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of paprika, and a teaspoon of curry.

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I let the chicken breasts marinate in this mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.


I returned to my real job, doing communication research, for a few hours while the chicken marinated. Cooking is not my real job, so I have to multitask. When I returned I chopped the following list of vegetables. And this was a rough chop. I knew I planned to blend them so didn’t feel the need to waste time with finely chopping them or making them look pretty.

1 green pepper

1 large tomato

2 jalapeno peppers

1 yellow onion

I sauteed this with a stick of butter until tender.


I started the chicken on the George Foreman grill to get a good sear.


Next, I added the following ingredients to the veggies:

one can tomato sauce

3 teaspoons curry (I would have added more but ran out!)

3/4 teaspoon of ginger

1.5 teaspoon of garlic powder

1.5 teaspoon onion powder

1.5 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper


When the chicken was done, I let it rest for a bit. I added about a cup of heavy cream and used an immersion blender to blend the spicy veggie mixture. I added the chicken to the tikka masala, let is simmer for a while to absorb flavors, and it was all done….almost.


I still wanted a little more heat in my dish. Now, I know that sriracha is not traditionally used in Indian cooking, but it was the best option I had. I added about a teaspoon of sriracha. I like sriracha in other dishes too, like my sriracha roasted lamb shanks. The dish turned out really yummy. My first bite still tasted like it wasn’t hot enough, but the heat quickly kicked in as I continued eating. And this recipe gave me plenty to freeze and enjoy at another time! The only thing missing was naan. I’ll have to try this recipe for naan next time.


My recipe was inspired by the following variations:


Food Network Recipe

Bon Appetite

I also got a few tips from my friend Jenny, who helped me the first time I every tried making tikka masala. =)

Because I’m trying to think of vegetarian and paleo options for many of my favorite meals, my recommendation would be to leave the chicken out to make it vegetarian. All of the taste seems to be  in the sauce anyways.Or you can check out my Indian inspired vegetarian recipe for kohlrabi curry.

You could also put the mixture over cauliflower rice instead of basmati to make it paleo.

Another interesting variation of the traditional tikka masala comes from a version I had in Cardif, Wales where the chef added pineapple to the dish. It was a great mix of hot and sweet and added a little more texture (and nutrition?) to the dish.


Go Green Vegetarian Bake

In last week’s post, Less Meat!,  I told you that I wanted to try going meatless a few days a week. Today was a meatless day. My breakfast and lunch were not creative, but I made up a vegetable bake for dinner. Maybe I should call it an “everything but the kitchen sink” bake. I had a lot of vegetables that needed to be used before they spoiled, so I grabbed everything green in my refrigerator.


I loosely based the recipe on one I found on Pinterest for spinach artichoke chicken and my own chicken, mushroom, and broccoli casserole. They have become favorites around my house. It has made multiple appearances, so I keep artichoke hearts on hand. I added those to the green veggies above.


So, what do I have in this mixture? It included:

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 chopped green pepper

1/2 chopped jalapeno

1 cup kale

1 can artichoke hearts

1/2 head of broccoli

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Next, I added three heaping tablespoons of greek yogurt and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. I mixed it until everything was coated with yogurt and cheese.


Next, I made a crumb topping:

1/2 cup of italian bread crumbs

3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon cumin

a handful of chopped almonds


I sprinkled the topping on the bake and baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.


I thought the dish turned out pretty well. The jalapenos, garlic, cumin, and cilantro gave it a lot of nice flavors and it wasn’t too spicy. I think next time I will try to add a little yogurt to the topping to make it a little pasty before baking it. It just didn’t get that shell like consistency and brown the way I had imagined before putting it into the oven. The only thing in it that could be considered unhealthy was the cheese, but it wasn’t that much cheese per serving. Also, the only thing that would prevent this from being paleo would be the bread crumbs, which could easily be replaced with a coconut flour mixture or a flax seed and almond mixture as the topping. I want to keep working on this one to perfect it, but I think it will eventually be a keeper. And there were leftovers for my other veggie only days this week!

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Less Meat!

I tried to go vegetarian once after watching a documentary about meat processing. It only lasted about a week.

There has been a recent movement called “Meatless Mondays.” Despite the name suggesting that this is only happening on Mondays, you can go meatless on any day of the week. There are lots of reasons for cutting the meat including health reasons and environmental reasons. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to go fully vegetarian, but I do think I can pull off at least two days a week without meat to improve my overall health.

Sounds easy, right? It is a little more difficult with my attempts at following the Paleo diet about 75% of the time. So, no veggie pastas, veggie tacos, veggie pizza, or other easy go-to ideas that may immediately come to mind.

Today was my first attempt at being a vegetarian. I personally find it hard to think of a variety of ways to spice up my diet without the proteins I grew up on, so I thought I’d start sharing my attempts at making vegetarian fun and healthy.

My first meal was breakfast and I had a boiled egg and cantaloupe (and coffee of course!)

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For lunch, I used portabello mushroom caps, brushed them with olive oil inside and out, and added a slice of tomato, red onion, and mozzarella fresca. “Fresca” is Spanish for “fresh.” Every ingredient used was fresh, so I’ll call this my Portabello Fresca Pizza. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

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Finally, for dinner, I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest for Kale and Butternut Squash Saute. I did not have the dried cranberries, but it still turned out to be pretty good. In past posts I’ve made Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry and Butternut Squash Soup.


There are lot of types of vegetarians (as I often hear in my students’ speeches). Because of the egg and cheeses used in today’s meals, I’d be considered a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I found that the most vegetarians have trouble getting enough protein, so I think the egg and cheese is necessary. I also had an apple with peanut butter (more protein) for a snack.

And apparently the term for someone trying to be vegetarian sometimes, like my two days a week, is a flexitarian. So many terms! We’ll see how long this lasts…

Flexi-Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian signing off.

Texas Caviar Chicken and Refried Beans

Hello friends, family, and followers!

Sorry for the long delay in posts. I’ve been out of the country…then out of state…and then just out of my kitchen. I’m so ready to get back to my own kitchen and eating (and cooking) like I normally do though! I’m not quite there yet, but decided while visiting my parents that I would cook dinner for them. It is hard to cook in a kitchen that isn’t your own!

I made a Mexican inspired dish with my own play off of Texas caviar. If you aren’t familiar with Texas caviar, you can find the traditional recipe here.

First, I roasted two ears of corn, one red pepper, and one green pepper using the broiler in the oven. While that broiled, I prepared several other pieces of the meal.

I made a homemade taco seasoning instead of using the store bought seasoning packets. I left out the salt to make it a little healthier. I sprinkled about half of this over the chicken breasts and then put them into the oven to bake.

I chopped two tomatoes and 1/2 of an onion into 2 tablespoons and started to sautee them. As the peppers finished roasting, I chopped them into the mixture. Last, I shaved the roasted corn into the mixture and added the second half of the taco seasoning.

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While the mixture cooked on low and the chicken continued to bake, I began heating refried beans. To help with the texture, I added 1 tablespoon of sour cream and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. As this mixed into the beans, they became so much creamier and tastier!

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The last step was just to boil rice as the foundation for the plate. I plated it and added a dollop of sour cream and a touch of shredded cheddar. I kept it to a minimum to keep the dish a bit healthier.

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I liked the simple, fresh, and tasty dish. Looking forward to having leftovers for my lunch today. I’ll be getting back to my normal food challenges and posts next week.