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!
Chicken Tikka Masala (Paleo, Dairy Free, Night Shade free)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
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!
1⅕ lbs of Chicken thigh pieces, cut into bite size pieces
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
To make ginger garlic paste:
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:
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:
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.
Keep broiled chicken pieces aside.
Cooking the curry base:
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.
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.
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.
Pour this paste back to the pan. Add some more water about 1 cup to get the curry to a thick gravy like consistency.
Now add the grilled chicken pieces to the curry and cover and cook for about 5 mins on low heat.
Turn heat off and add fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve the curry with warm cassava rotis/tortillas.
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!
Tandoori Chicken || Indian Style Baked Chicken (Paleo)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course, Appetizer
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
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
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.
Mix all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
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)
When ready to bake the chicken, pre heat oven to 450 deg F (220 deg C).
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.
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.
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.
Take tray out of the oven and cover the tray with Al foil until serving.
Serve tandoori chicken with lemon wedges and sliced red onions!
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!
Chestnut flour is something that I recently got acquainted with. Thanks to my friend Monika. A few weeks ago when we were at their home for dinner, she told me about this flour which is called as ‘singhare ka atta’ in India and how this flour is used during religious fasting periods called as Vrat. She said that this flour came from water chestnuts and hence it is grain free. Wow, I was so happy to hear this and the next time I was at our local indian grocery store, I picked up a bag of this flour. I couldn’t wait to try this for making parathas as Monika had suggested!
I did make the parathas with aloo(potatoes) in them since that was the only way to make the dough. The parathas were good and now I started browsing more recipes using singhare ka atta. There are all sorts of things that showed up – dosas, samosas, etc and I started to drool looking at all these foods that are forbidden for me on my current grain free diet. I was feeling so excited already and then I saw the recipe for ‘singhare ka halwa’! Omg! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Halwa has always been my favorite Indian dessert and for the past two years I have not had halwa being dairy free , gluten free and sugar free! So looking at this recipe, I imagined the possibility of a halwa in the near future for me. That was incredible! If it came out good, Monika, my friend deserved a treat from me!
And today happened to be the perfect day to try this recipe since it was Janmashtami which is Lord Krishna’s birthday. I started seeing all kinds of Indian traditional sweets recipes posted on instagram and in the afternoon, it was time for me to try making the singhara atta ka halwa.!
Turned out great – satisfied my halwa cravings totally. Even though I used coconut oil instead of ghee and maple syrup instead of sugar. The chestnut flour itself has a nutty taste and aroma so the halwa tastes rich even without any ghee or milk in it.
Paratha is typical North indian food right? So why am I trying to ‘southernize’ it? He he…just happened like that one day by accident and a new ‘paratha’ was created in our household 🙂 So here is what happened. Once in a week I make Methi theplas for my kiddos’ lunch box. And usually I make more theplas for them once they come home from school for a healthy snack. One time I had a boiled potato left over too and so I thought of stuffing the thepla with the potato. I just wanted to keep it simple and decided to just add some ‘chaat masala’ to the potato stuffing. I quickly grabbed the ‘chaat masala’ pack from the fridge and sprinkled on the mashed potato. But after I had added it, I realized that I had actually added ‘sambhaar masala’ 🙂 So that was the birth of this Methi Aloo paratha with sambhaar spices!
The kids just loved the hot, spicy parathas and gobbled them all up in a few minutes. Then I made them again on a weekend when my husband enjoyed them too and that’s how these parathas came to become so popular in our house now. My youngest always wants me to make the ‘stuffed Aloo’ ones instead of just the plain methi theplas 🙂
Isn’t it fun when mistakes lead to sweet (or in this case, spicy) innovations ? 🙂
Methi Aloo Paratha with south indian flavors (Potato and Fenugreek leaves stuffed flatbread)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course, Breads
A whole wheat flatbread stuffed with fenugreek leaves and potatoes with a hint of south indian spices
For the dough (outer covering):
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh or frozen methi(fenugreek) leaves
1 tsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper powder (use kashmiri chill powder for mildly spiced)
about ¾ cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
For potato stuffing:
2 large Boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed
1 tbsp sambhaar powder (I use Aachi brand)
1 tsp salt (check if your sambhaar masala has salt already before adding)
Add all the dough ingredients except water and oil in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the water little bit at a time and form a dough. (You can use a stand mixer also to form the dough). Add the oil and mix again so that the dough is soft and smooth. Divide dough into small balls about a golf ball size.keep aside covered.
Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl and use a potato masher to make the mixture really smooth - there should not be any lumps. Keep this aside.
Heat a chapati pan (or any non stick pan).
Roll each dough ball into a small circle and place 1 tbsp of the potato stuffing in the center. Bring the outer edges of the circle into the center to pinch at the center (like a dumpling) and then again roll carefully to form a paratha. (use lots of extra wheat flour for dusting to prevent sticking)
Place the paratha on the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes on one side before flipping. Apply oil or ghee on the flipped side and again flip to the other side and apply ghee again. Flip once more to cook on the second side and when you see golden brown spots on both sides, transfer to a dish. Keep warm covered with foil until serving.
Repeat process for the rest of the dough and stuffing.
What does the word ‘probiotics’ mean? It seems to be the new buzzword? Everyone seems to be talking about probiotics and gut health. For the last 18 months or so I have been reading up a lot on the relationship between the gut and the immune system and thereby the implications for autoimmune diseases. I have been following a strict paleo diet(autoimmune protocol version) . Many of my friends and family have asked me about the relationship between diet and disease. Some of them seemed confused that our gut would have so much of an impact on our health and wanted to know why ‘probiotics’ were important.
So I thought of writing up this post explaining the basics for my readers.
Significance of gut health on our overall health: As I was reading up about the impact of diets on disease, one of the facts that really helped me understand this relationship was that “80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract”! Now, once you begin to appreciate this, it all begins to make sense doesn’t it? yeah, so if immune system is located in the gut, then what you eat has an impact on the immune system! Ta Da! Many health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism and many other conditions originate in the gut.
Good bacteria vs bad bacteria: The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times more probiotics in your gut then cells in your body! If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects can include digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease, and frequent colds and flus.
Probiotic ‘Killers’ or Eroders: In the olden days, our ancestors used plenty of probiotics in their diets from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling. However, because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics today, and most foods actually contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies. Following are some ‘probiotic killers’ in our environment today: prescription antibiotics, Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory medications (NSAIDs/Pain killers), sugar, tap water , GMO foods, Grains, emotional stress etc.
Thus adding probiotics to our diet can help to provide us with a
Stronger immune system
Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
Healthier skin, since probiotics naturally treat eczema and psoriasis
Reduced cold and flu
Healing from leaky gut syndrome and thereby all autoimmune disorders
What are some natural probiotics?
Sour foods and fermented foods like apple cider vinegar, yoghurt (dairy free coconut yoghurt is best), kefir, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kimchi (fermented vegetables), beet kvass (fermented beets) are all great sources of probiotics.
What are some other sources of probiotics?
Nowadays you can buy probiotic capsules from the pharmacy and GNC stores that contain the good bacteria inside a capsule. Make sure you use a probiotic supplement that has a mix of strains from the two main genus lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Pick a brand that has at least five billion CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria. Otherwise it is not good enough. And always store them in a cool place always.
I recently came across this lovely recipe for an Indian probiotic drink called as Beet kanji from Myheartbeets. This drink has been traditionally made in Northern India and I am so glad that I got to know about this drink. I have been making it regularly now. The first time I made it , it came out too strong and so after a couple variations, I have the process nailed down – adding just the right amount of mustard and keeping it for fermenting for the right amount of time. I love having this drink chilled! At our dinner gatherings at home, I sport a glass of bright red kanji while others have their alcoholic drinks 🙂 Oh, and you can use the fermented vegetables to add to your salads!
Probiotic 101 and a recipe for a homemade probiotic drink: Beet Kanji
Author: Indira Shyju (adapted from Myheartbeets)
Recipe type: Healthy drink
A healthy traditional indian probiotic drink made from fermenting beets and carrots.
1 large organic beet, peeled and cut into thin, long slices
1 large organic carrot, scraped and cut into thin, long slices
6 cups filtered water
2 tsp powdered mustard seeds (coarsely powdered is fine)
2 tsp sea salt
Take a large glass jar and add the vegetables and the mustard and salt. Pour the filtered water to cover all the vegetables completely plus leave about 1-2 inches of water above. Cover the jar with a lid and keep it aside on the kitchen counter for 4-5 days or until you see bubbles on top. Taste the liquid to see if you get a strong fermented taste and that's when it is done.