Jamie Oliver’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Despite my very best attempt at avoidance and denial the last couple of days seem to have proven two things to me; not only that “winter is [indeed] coming” but rather that it has actually arrived. When it is freezing cold outside like it has been, it is bad enough. But if you are lucky enough to be in Cape Town this delightful cold weather is usually accompanied by some good, solid horizontal rain. Trying to eat something that is not warm at a time like this has pretty much the same effect as thinking that your nifty little umbrella will actually save you from this horizontal rain…

Full credit for this curry recipe has to go to Jamie Oliver. He is definitely one of my go to sources of food inspiration because I really love the way he uses wholesome ingredients to create simple, tasty, healthy meals. The best part about this recipe, though, is that you make the tikka masala paste yourself, from scratch. Not only will this make you feel like a boss, you can totally claim that you slaved away all day making this meal (even though you won’t be slaving at all). Apart from bragging rights making this paste from scratch is what makes this curry really healthy because you know exactly what ingredients are going into it. Unfortunately a lot of the ready made curry pastes that you can buy from the shops have a couple of not-so-hidden ingredients (like gluten) in them that really aren’t good for you. Apart from the imported brands that all claim to be authentic because the ingredients are in Chinese, even the ones with instructions written in English contain ingredients that are so hard to pronounce they might as well be Chinese.

Ginger, coconut and almond added this healthy gluten free curry

Ginger, coconut and almond add to the deliciousness of this curry


Before you freak out when you read this list of ingredients and see how many of them there are, just bear with me. It will feel sort of like all those goals in that game between Germany and Brazil, but by the end of it you will be feeling more like Germany than Brazil so don’t panic.*

Tikka Masala Paste

1-2 fresh red chilies (if you can’t find fresh, the freeze dried red chilies from Woolies are great)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger (or roughly two teaspoons if you have the fresh crushed ginger)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (do not mistake tsp. for a tbsp. unless you want to set your mouth on fire)
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. tomato puree
Half a bunch of fresh coriander
½ tbsp. desiccated coconut
2 tbsp. ground almonds

Onions for a healthy chicken tikka masala

Onions for a healthy chicken tikka masala

For the rest of the curry:

4 skinless, free range chicken breasts
2 onions
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger (or roughly two teaspoons if you have the fresh crushed ginger)
The other half of the bunch of coriander
1 fresh red chili
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk

Toasted almond slivers, lemon and yoghurt to serve (these are optional in terms of admin, but not in taste)

How to make delicious happen:

1. Start with the curry paste. To do this you will need a food processor; I don’t have an amazing fancy one, but the small round hand held ones with the spinning blades work just as well in this case. Peel the ginger if you are using a piece, if not, put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz it up. It will be quite thick and you may have to a little bit of a “shake it, shake it baby” dance with your food processor to make sure all the bits are getting involved.

2. Slice the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Using a clean shopping board and knife (unless salmonella is your thang) finely chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the ginger if you are using a whole piece. Pick the coriander leaves off the stalks, put them to one side until you are ready to serve your delicious curry, and finely chop the stalks as well.

3. You will need a large pan to cook this in – the biggest one you have. I am so awful at judging volumes and it just gets awkward so fast. Start by frying off the onions, coriander stalks, chili, and ginger until the spices become fragrant and the onions become glassy.

Spice board for the chicken tikka masala

Spice board for a healthy chicken tikka masala

4. Put the chicken strips in along with the masala paste you just made, making sure that you stir it so that the chicken is completely coated. Season this with salt and pepper, and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and bring it to the boil.

5. Simmer this for 20 minutes with the lid on, and then take the lid off to allow the sauce to reduce a bit. This has the added benefit of making your whole kitchen smell incredible.

6. How you serve this is up to you; cauli-rice is great if you want to go low carb, but brown coconut rice is a great option because it really adds a nice nutty sort of flavor to the curry.

7. Serve with your choice of ‘rice’, a nice fat blob of yoghurt and top it all off with some almond slivers, lemon juice and fresh coriander if you feel like it.

Jamie Oliver's recipe for a chicken tikka masala is gluten free, delicious and healthy to boot.

Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a chicken tikka masala is gluten free, delicious and healthy to boot.

*P.S. I really do have to give a little shout-out to Katinka’s amazing spice box, which is amazing.

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