Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo, Dairy Free, Night Shade free)

It feels funny writing a recipe post on Tikka Masala. That is because I had never been a fan of ‘Tikka masala’ that is typically found in Indian restaurants across the US and in India. The main reason for my disinterest was the abundance of cream in those curries. Even when I was not ‘dairy free’, I never used to like cream in a curry because of the heaviness it imparted which subsequently tended to just ‘sit’ in my stomach for the next 24 hours!

So why am I now into Tikka masala suddenly? Well, this is what happened.  I have recently started teaching ‘Indian Cooking’ lessons and in almost every cooking session that I have had thus far, there are at least one or more folks asking me if I can teach them how to make ‘tikka masala’ 🙂 That’s when I realized the popularity of tikka masala among the ‘non-indian’ community. And it also struck me why folks love it so much. It is after all curry without all the spiciness or heat!. Adding cream definitely lightens up things for people who like the indian flavors but cannot handle the heat. That does make a lot of sense.

OK so ever since that revelation, my mind was bent on coming up with a ‘paleo’ version of chicken tikka masala.  And so finally I did come up with this delicious version that uses cashew nuts for the creaminess and I also made it night shade free since I avoid tomatoes too on my ‘AIP with reintro’ diet. Talking about ‘reintros’, I am so glad I can tolerate cashew nuts. I reintroduced them a couple months ago and so glad I am not sensitive to them. I mostly however, use them soaked beforehand. That way they are more digestible.

This Chicken tikka masala was a big hit with my family too. They love it with rotis and I like to have this with my cassava parathas/rotis. Btw, I made this curry twice already in the past month and I also made a video of it the second time around. Attaching the video below. Hope you like it! Please leave me a feedback below in the comments section or on my youtube channel!


5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo, Dairy Free, Night Shade free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Marinated Chicken pieces grilled and cooked in a delicious, creamy, cashew nut based finger-licking curry flavored with a blend of aromatic spices. Completely Dairy free and Night shade free!
Ingredients
  • 1⅕ lbs of Chicken thigh pieces, cut into bite size pieces
For marination:
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (use less for mild or more for hot)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (see note below)
  • 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt (you can skip if you don't have this)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi / dried fenugreek (optional)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • 10-12 cranberries fresh or frozen (thawed by soaking in hot water if frozen)
  • 15 whole cashew nuts soaked in hot water for 1 hour
  • About 1 to 1½ cups of water
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped for garnish
Instructions
To make ginger garlic paste:
  1. Grind equal quantity of fresh ginger and garlic cloves with extra virgin olive oil to make a thick paste. You can keep this in the refrigerator for about a week.
Marinating the chicken pieces:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces and add all the marinade ingredients. Mix using your hands to coat the chicken pieces well with the spice mixture. Keep aside for 1-8 hours. If keeping for more than 1 hour, keep the marinated chicken inside the refrigerator.
Cooking the Chicken:
  1. Pre heat oven to broil. Line a baking tray with Al foil to catch the drippings. Place the chicken pieces on skewers. Brush with oil and place under the broiler (about 2 inches away) and cook for about 10 mins. Flip them half way that is after 5 mins to make sure they are evenly cooked.
  2. Keep broiled chicken pieces aside.
Cooking the curry base:
  1. Heat a large bottom pan with the olive oil. Turn heat to medium and add the cumin seeds and the dried fenugreek(kasoori methi) leaves. Stir for 30 secs and then add the chopped onions. Stir fry and cook the onions for about 4-5 mins until soft. Next add the ginger garlic paste and cook for about 30 secs. Next add all the spices one by one and stir for another 30 secs to 1 min.
  2. Next add the cranberries along with a little bit of water. Stir and cook for about 1 min. Then cover and cook for about 2-3 mins until the cranberries are really soft. Turn heat off.
  3. Transfer this onion mixture to a food processor. Add the soaked cashew nuts along with a little bit of water. Grind to a fine paste.
  4. Pour this paste back to the pan. Add some more water about 1 cup to get the curry to a thick gravy like consistency.
  5. Now add the grilled chicken pieces to the curry and cover and cook for about 5 mins on low heat.
  6. Turn heat off and add fresh cilantro leaves.
  7. Serve the curry with warm cassava rotis/tortillas.

 

 

Paleo Chicken Tikka Masala

Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)

If you like Indian food and like chicken then I can bet that you would have definitely tasted Tandoori Chicken:) If not, then you need to immediately rectify that!  Tandoori Chicken probably helped popularize Indian cuisine in the rest of the world. And Chicken tikka masala where this tandoor baked chicken is dunked in a delicious creamy tomato gravy is every ‘curry’ and ‘chicken lovers’ dream curry.

I have made Tandoori style chicken numerous times over the years although I had never posted a recipe until now. I did post a Nepalese version of Tandoori Chicken sometime back which has tomato in the marinade.  Usually I would just make Tandoori chicken by making a marinade in yoghurt with ginger, garlic, some coriander, cumin, cayenne and garam masala.  I believe cumin and the ginger-garlic paste is what gives a Tandoori chicken its unique flavor.  The chicken is nice and slightly crispy on the outside while really really moist and succulent on the inside. And it is just oozing with flavor!

Of late since I avoid dairy on my Paleo diet, I have been omitting yoghurt. And I have been using lemon juice instead to impart acidity to tenderize the meat.  That works pretty great too. So last week as I was making a new batch, I remembered to take the pics and note down ingredients so I could post this recipe! The longer you marinate the chicken, the tastier your tandoori chicken will be! Also, tandoori chicken has a special flavor because it is baked in a tandoor (clay oven). So in my version, I tried to get a smokey flavor by broiling the chicken for a couple mins in the end.

The tandoori chicken tastes great with some plain white rice and dal (lentil curry). That’s how my family enjoys them.  I either eat them with a salad on the side or make Chicken tacos using my homemade cassava tortillas. So so yum!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Chicken thigh pieces marinated in lemon juice and a blend of indian spices like cumin and garam masala and baked in an oven to get delicious baked chicken bursting with flavor
Ingredients
  • 1½ lb chicken thigh pieces
For the marinade:
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 2 inch by 1 inch long piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Extra Olive Oil for brushing on top
Instructions
  1. Clean the chicken pieces and cut into large pieces. Dab the chicken pieces using paper towels to remove moisture. Make light gashes on the chicken pieces so that the marinade can seep in.
  2. Mix all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and using your hands coat each piece generously with the marinade. Let the chicken pieces sit in marinade for at least 1 hour. Or up to 8-10 hours. (Transfer chicken to fridge if marinating for more than 1 hour)
  4. When ready to bake the chicken, pre heat oven to 450 deg F (220 deg C).
  5. Line a baking tray with Al foil and brush with oil. Lay the chicken pieces on the baking sheet. Bake at 450 F for 25 mins.
  6. Take out tray and brush with oil and flip the chicken pieces and bake for another 15-20 mins until both sides are well cooked.
  7. Remove tray from oven and turn oven to broil setting. Now place tray on top rack for 2-3 mins until there are slightly blackened smoked spots on each of the chicken pieces.
  8. Take tray out of the oven and cover the tray with Al foil until serving.
  9. Serve tandoori chicken with lemon wedges and sliced red onions!
Notes
I use Kashmiri chilli powder since it is mild as well as it gives great color. You could also substitute smoked paprika to get a good color!
You could also grill this chicken on an outdoor grill. If you add charcoal that would give them a really good flavor!

Cashew Masala Milk || Cashew Masala Latte (Vegan, Paleo, Refined Sugar free)

 Masala Milk is a traditional Indian drink made using milk blended with nuts, spices and flavors. I am not sure which part of India this drink originated from.  In Maharashtra, during Kojagiri Poornima, it is a ritual to serve Masala doodh (Milk) after watching the full bright moon. Many people fast on this day and make this Masala Doodh and keep the milk in a container directly under the Moonlight as a prasad and get blessings from the Moon God. I always enjoyed having this drink as a child since we had lots of Maharashtrian neighbors growing up and we girls would always have a blast on Kojagiri Poornima. Drinking this milk was the best part for me 🙂

Now that I avoid dairy, I decided to come up with a vegan version of this milk, which was not difficult at all. I just used cashew nut and coconut milk to be the ‘milk’ source and additionally I also used dates to be the sweetener so no other sugar was necessary! So I have a really healthy version of this traditional drink and this is one delicious drink that makes you feel special! I indulged myself with this drink on one hot lazy afternoon last week as I stayed indoors enjoying the view from our sunroom. I felt like royalty -It was just perfect 🙂

As we celebrate Diwali over the next few days, this would be a great drink to serve to your guests!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Cashew Masala Milk (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Beverage
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A healthy version of the traditional indian drink made with cashew nuts, dates and fragrant spices
Ingredients
  • 20 cashew nuts, soaked in hot water for 2 hours (or overnight for 6-8 hours)
  • 4 dates
  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ⅛th teaspoon saffron (4-5 strands)
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder (by crushing green cardamom pods)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1-2 drops of rose extract/essence
  • 1 tbsp crushed pistachios (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drain water from the soaked cashews. Place in blender/food processor jar. Add the dates and half of the warm water. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the water and the coconut milk and blend again.
  2. Add the saffron, cardamom and nutmeg and rose. Mix well using a spoon. Transfer to two serving bowls/glasses. Add the crushed pistachios on top.
  3. You can serve as is or chilled.
Notes
I don't add crushed pistachios since I am sensitive to pistachios but it gives it additional flavor

Kaju Barfi with honey || Refined sugar free Kaju Katli || Cashew Nut Fudge

Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate! I have two ‘Diwali special’ recipes for you and both of them have cashew nuts as the main ingredient. And both the recipes are extremely simple and easy! But most importantly the end products are absolutely delicious!

The first one I will share in this post is the recipe for sugar free Kaju Katli! Bet you can feel my excitement! Having gone refined sugar free since last two years, Kaju Katli had gone out of my life too sadly 🙁 But I had been meaning to experiment making Kaju Katli using honey and finally for this Diwali I was able to try it. And pleased to inform you that it was a super duper success! Yipee!

My son loves Kaju Katli. in fact that is the ONLY Indian sweet that he will eat! So when he came home from school I told him there was Kaju Katli in the fridge. He quickly went to grab it and had a bite. ‘Hmm… very good mom!’ he said. I said to him – “And guess what?” .  He immediately responded knowing how much I detest refined white sugar, “You must have not added sugar…so, what did you add?” .

I smiled and replied ‘Honey, I just added some honey!” 🙂 Also added rose flavor instead of cardamom. That coupled with the natural floral tint of the honey made this Kaju Katli absolutely fragrant and delectable. It was the perfect offering for a Diwali Pooja.

And guess what else was perfect? Fresh flowers! Yes this year the weather has been so warm until this week that my garden has still been blooming.This is so unusual for us to have flowers in our garden for Diwali!  Don’t you love it when that happens? I consider it as a gift from the heavens!

Have a Happy Diwali and stay blessed! And look out for my next post which also has cashews in it!

Kaju Barfi with honey || Refined sugar free Kaju Katli ||
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Healthy Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
 
A healthy and delectable version of the traditional Cashew nut barfi or Kaju Katli made with cashew nuts and honey and infused with a rose flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cashew nuts whole
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops of rose extract
Instructions
  1. In a skillet or a frying pan, dry roast the cashew nuts on a low flame for about 5 mins stirring continuously to avoid burning. The cashew nuts should only slightly change color (with some light brown spots). Turn heat off.
  2. Transfer the roasted cashew nuts to a food processor and pulse for about 10-20 secs until you get a coarse powder. Take care not too grind too much or you might get lumpy cashew butter. Keep aside.
  3. In a medium size cooking pot, add the honey and the water. Heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Immediately add the ground cashew powder and mix using a spoon or spatula until all the powder is mixed well with the honey and you get a wet pasty mixture. Turn heat off.
  4. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the kitchen counter(or a large tray). Dump the hot cashew mixture onto the parchment paper.
  5. Take another parchment paper sheet and place it over the mixture to cover it. Now use a rolling pin to flatten the mixture from all sides.
  6. Now place this flattened spread out mixture along with the parchment paper onto a tray and keep in the freezer for about 30 mins (or refrigerator for 1 hour).
  7. After the mixture has turned firm, remove from the freezer (or refrigerator) and cut into diamonds or squares.
  8. Keep the Kaju Katli pieces in the refrigerator until serving.
Notes
Roast the cashew nuts on low heat so that they don't turn brown in color. Store the kaju Barfis in the refrigerator since they become sticky at room temperature.
You can try using maple syrup for honey too although I haven't tried it yet.

Instant Lemon Pickle/Relish (Vadukkapuli Achar)

Over the past 18 years since I got married, I have cooked and baked like crazy.  Curries, Stews, Chutneys, Breads, Cakes, Desserts.  Indian, American, South Asian, Mexican, Italian – you name it, I have tried it!  You just have to browse through the recipe categories on my home page to see what I mean! However, one category that I have not really ventured into a lot is that of ‘pickles’. And by pickles, I mean ‘Indian’ pickles which are an altogether different class of foods as compared to what pickles mean to the western world.  A pickle in India is usually something that is a relish – something that is either extremely sour or extremely spicy or in most cases both 🙂 The very mention of the word ‘pickle’ gets my salivary glands into hyperactivity! And I can confidently say that it does the same for most Indians 🙂

These pickles are meant to be consumed in very tiny quantities in a meal and is thought to tickle your palate thereby improving your appetite and aiding digestion. In fact, the way to enjoy these pickles is by dipping your finger in it and then licking it between eating portions of rice or rotis! The best pickles – the ones that I grew up eating were all home made! By my grandmas and my various aunts. Yes, my mom for some reason too did not make pickles.  But after I got married, I started getting pickles from my MIL regularly. That could very well be the reason why I never tried to make pickles. And the fact that it just seemed like a lot of hard work. Which is true in most cases since the pickled object for example the lemons or the green mangoes etc have to be washed, wiped and sun dried completely for one. Second of all, once the pickle was made, it needed to be sealed appropriately and stashed away for a few months before it was ‘ready’ to be consumed! Now who has the patience for that?

For the past two years being on a Paleo and AIP diet I have cut down considerably  on the quantity of pepper from my diet. I now only use kashmiri chill powder which is very mild – it gives the hot red color which I crave for without the added heat that I can do without.! So I had very much given up the hope that I could be eating pickles anytime soon.

However, last month while I was visiting India, my elder sister made the Kerala traditional Vadaukkapuli achar for Onam. God bless her! Vadukkapuli is the name of a variety of lemon that is much bigger than regular lemons and they have a thicker rind. The pickle made using these lemons are a side dish for the Onam sadya. makes sense right considering what I mentioned before about palate and digestion 🙂

Gosh, I very hesitantly tasted it telling myself that I was just going to have one tiny bit – a little indulgence since it was onam! What I didn’t realize was that this innocent tasting would open up the floodgates of pent up ‘pickle cravings’!  Having tasted it now, there was no stopping me. Luckily my sister had not made it too hot or spicy. I loved it so much that I begged her to tell me the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she had made it that very morning. Meaning this was an instant version of pickle. She had peeled the skin off making the lemon pieces soften instantly. What a neat trick! I couldn’t wait to get back home and try a version that suited my needs – less hot and spicy and completely paleo friendly.  I used lesser quantity of all the spices and also used apple cider vinegar instead of synthetic vinegar and used regular organic lemons since I couldn’t find the large Meyer lemons.

Presenting to you a milder version of the traditional Kerala Naranga Achar!.  I have been currently enjoying this lemon relish with boiled yucca (kappa). Yum O!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Instant Lemon Pickle (Naranga Achar)
Author: 
Recipe type: Relish, Pickle
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Spicy and tangy lemon relish made with lemon pieces sautéed in sesame oil along with spices like mustard, fenugreek and cayenne pepper.
Ingredients
  • 3 large lemons (I used regular organic lemons)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Peel the lemons (removing the yellow rind) and then cut into small bite size pieces. Discard the seeds. Place in a strainer that is placed over a dish. Collect the juices and reserve.
  2. Heat a small pan or cooking pot and add the oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds. When they splutter, add the lemon pieces and saute for 2 mins.
  3. Add all the spices and salt and sautee for 1 more minute. Turn heat off and add the vinegar and stir to mix.
Notes
Although I used regular lemons, you can use same recipe to make vadukka puli (Meyer lemons)achar