Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

TM w-type

The words “Skinny” and “Chicken Tikka Masala” don’t usually go together.

I don’t know about you, but when I go out for Indian food I usually over eat.  Common conversation when people are eating CTM usually goes like this:

“OMG this is so good!”

“Yeah, I can’t stop eating it once I start.”

“Don’t they use that “ghee” stuff?”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

and then everyone proceeds to eat and get really full.

Indian food tastes so good, but I always find it hard to hit the “off” switch once I start inhaling it.  All that salty, creamy, rich, ghee filled, spicy, goodness is addictive and sinfully delicious.

Reality hits the next day.  The salt hangover when you wake up is never any fun.  Familiar with that bloated, highly irritable feeling?  Going to Indian restaurants has become a pretty rare thing around here.  Again, not ’cause I don’t love it, because I like it too much!

Being that life is about balance.  I figured making a Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala would be a great compromise.  This way I can have it any time, feel like I am indulging…..without the ick feeling after.  I referenced some traditional CTM recipes for this dish and I altered them to fit into the profile……clean, healthy and yummy!  Not overly salted, extra fatty, bloat inducing food!  This recipe is “everyday” food.

Bonus: my kids liked it too!!  I’d say that is good stuff all around.

BTW: About that Ghee…  is just clarified butter.  Basically boiled butter.  The milk solids sink to the bottom and a beautiful, tasty golden liquid (ghee) is left on the top.  Everything good in small amounts.  Ghee is not too different than butter, as there is nothing else in it.  As a matter of fact, some would say ghee is healthier than butter ’cause a lot of the artery cloggers are strained out.  Happy thoughts!

TM Salad

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

about 8 Servings


  • 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbs. ground Tumeric
  • 4 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • Garlic: about 6 cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 28oz Can Chopped or Whole Tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 lbs Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into 1″cubes
  • 1/3 cup plain Nonfat Yogurt, Greek Style best, regular OK too
  • 1 tbs. Ghee or Butter
  • 1 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp ground Cumin
  • 1 tbs. Paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup diced Red Pepper
  • 1 diced Onion
  • 1 cup Light Coconut Milk
  • optional: ground Hot Pepper to taste, all depends on how spicy you want your masala
  • Cilantro Leaves to garnish


  1. In a blender or food processor combine Smoked Paprika, Tumeric, Garam Masala, Garlic, Ginger, and Water.  Add Tomatoes. Puree until smooth.
  2. In a bowl combine two tablespoons of the above mixture with Yogurt, some Salt and Chicken.  Let marinate for about 1/2 hour.
  3. Arrange rack in oven so it is about 4″ from top.  Set oven to Broil.
  4. Put marinated Chicken on baking sheet lined with foil.  Broil for about 5-6 minutes, until lightly browned, and cooked through.
  5. Heat Ghee or Butter in sauce pan on medium-high heat.
  6. Add Coriander and Cumin, let toast for a few minutes in Ghee/Butter until fragrant.
  7. Add Paprika, Onions and Red Pepper.  Saute until softened, about 7 minutes.
  8. Add Tomato/Masala mixture.  Add a sprinkle of Hot Pepper if using.
  9. Stir in Coconut Milk. Let sauce come to a boil and then simmer for another 7 minutes.
  10. Add Chicken and and any extra salt to taste, simmer for a few more minutes.

You can serve your Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala with any rice choice, steamed veggies and a light salad.  Basmati rice is the traditional choice.

This sauces gets better with age.  When the flavors have a chance to marry over night they get more delicious!

Basmati Rice

For our Basmati in the photo, I use the “free boil” method.  This is when the rice doesn’t absorb all the water in the pot, sort of like how you cook pasta.  It has room to roll and tumble around.


  • 1 cup Organic Basmati Rice
  • sprinkle of ground Tumeric (this will give rice that pretty yellow color)
  • salt to taste


  1. Rinse and soak the rice for about 15 minutes
  2. Add Rice to pot with a bunch of water.
  3. Add Tumeric and Salt
  4. Bring to boil and let simmer, lightly covered for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Pour Rice into colander and let water drain out, now you have fluffy Basmati Rice!

Fresh Variations:

  • Instead of Chicken Breast you can use lean Sirloin, cube it, marinate, broil and toss in sauce (same as above)
  • Shrimp or Scallops: I would skip the broil part and just toss in simmering sauce until cooked through.
  • Tofu, Tempeh: Skip the broil part and just toss in simmering sauce until cooked through.
  • You can also add more of your favorite veggies to the sauce as it is cooking.

~ Marla Meridith

Join the Conversation

16 thoughts on “Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

  1. Amazing! You are the only one who can get me in the kitchen. I love and crave Indian food but always thought it was way too complictaed. I think I can do this!!! How do make the most delicious things so healthy? Your sweet potato cookies are a fine example. I have not made them yet but I did come back from TJ with all the ingerdients! You put a fabulous “marla” twist on everything you do. So much incredible information and such creativity. You are so talented. Your inspiration never ceases to amaze me.
    Thank you so much from the nutrition depleted, starving Aimers family who are about to be fed, fit and fabulous! Love you!

    1. In my next life you I will be your personal chef! I just don’t know if I would have any time to cook ’cause we would be surfing all the time 🙂

  2. This recipe sounds great, and soo much healthier then the orginal! I am impressed fat free yogurt works. In a lot of dishes like this I find using fat free will cause the sauce to break. Will have to try this!

    1. I have had that experience too with adding yogurt to recipes (sauce breaking), in this case there were no issues. The yogurt and light coconut milk add so much to this dish. Hopefully you will have the same great outcome!

  3. I have to admit I’ve never been an big fan of Indian food (and I’ve never heard of ghee) but this looks good!

    1. Hi Marilyn! So glad you loved this recipe. I do not have Weight Watchers points or calorie info on my recipes. Perhaps you can plug into a calorie counter online?

  4. Hi,

    I have never been able to follow recipes with much success but I gave this one a try and it tasted fantastic, the chicken was incredibly tender and the masala sauce was delicious. Thanks for a great recipe.

  5. I LOVE your blog – stumbled across it via pinterest ( I repin a lot of your stuff!!!!) Being indian – i do also end up “skinnying” down a lot of recipes, but alot of indian recipes are also very healthy ( every day indian food) if you ever want recipes feel free to email me! I am OC as well.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Krystal. That is something I love about Indian cuisine ~ all of the pronounced flavors but a great awareness of food combinations and whole food ingredients. I am usually a fan of the lighter dishes. Very cool that you are in the OC too!

  6. Delicious, excellent, fantastic! (words from family members) Thank you so much Marla. For a family gathering of 6, I made two versions yours (skinnified with yogurt and coconut milk) and the other more more fattening recipe which calls for heavy cream. People could barely tell the difference. I preferred the skinny version – I thought it had more flavor. The only addition I made to your recipe was adding a pinch or two of brown sugar, I came across this recipe addition a few times on the web. I look forward to trying your other skinny, creative, yummy recipes!

    1. Thank you so much Holly! Such a sweet comment to wake up to 🙂 Isn’t it great when healthier foods can actually have more flavor when you combine the right ingredients? Fun that you did the taste comparison! Glad the gathering of 6 were fans as well 🙂 Hopefully you get to enjoy some more of my recipes soon!