Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala

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Recipe: Dairy-Free Chicken Tikka Masala

Years ago I subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated, and I came across a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala that I loved. This recipe is based off of that one, but changed up to be dairy/sugar free and simplified a bit. This is a bit more work than my typical recipes, but it’s well worth the effort! You could prepare the chicken the night before if desired and then just make the sauce the next day, or vice versa, to cut down prep time.

For the chicken:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

1/2 can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk

4 TBSP olive oil

4 cloves minced garlic

1 TBSP fresh grated ginger

For the sauce:

3 TBSP olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

1 serrano chile, minced small (seeds removed if you don’t like spicy)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 TBSP tomato paste

1 TBSP garam masala (I bought mine at an Indian food market, but I have seen it at Whole Foods–there are also recipes online to make it yourself)

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

2 TBSP honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Put the sliced chicken in a 9×13 pan, and sprinkle with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture sticks on chicken, and stirring a bit. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes (or overnight if you’re making ahead). In large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, honey, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in coconut milk and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce simmers, heat a couple TBSP olive oil in a large skillet. Pour coconut milk mixture over chicken and gently stir to coat. Using tongs, place into heated skillet and cook for 6-8 minutes, until done. Remove from pan with tongs and place directly into sauce. Stir in cilantro and serve over cauliflower rice!

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  1. Ashley K. says

    Just made this for dinner tonight — it was fantastic!

    One question: in the recipe for the sauce, it mentions chile. There’s no chile in the ingredients list. What kind of chile should it be? I think it could definitely benefit from the extra spice, though it was lovely and mild without it.

  2. Nicole says

    Made this for the family tonight and it was delicious.
    As i am doing the whole30 I left out the honey and it was still a hit.

  3. Suzanne C says

    Made it. Family loved it including 4 and 5 year old boys. No chili and only 1/4 tsp cayenne, We arent cilantro fans either so skipped that. The recipe made enough for dinner plus 4 more portions to savor later! I also sprinkled a bit of coconut manna on the top for decorative purposes (I called it “cheese” like Parm on spaghetti).

  4. becca says

    this may be a stupid question, since it is in the name, but can you leave out the masala?? Or would the flavor be totally different. I am thinking I could make it w/things I have on hand if that ingredients isn’t absolute necessity thanks!

  5. Victoria says

    Made this tonight. So delicious. Didn’t change a thing except took seeds out of pepper. My little girl and hubby loved it. Not spicy at all.

    Thank you!

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