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)
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!
  • 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
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