Curry is one of my food addictions and I don’t care who knows it. I especially love a good, spicy curry during the cooler months, when all you want is a nice bowl of something warm and filling. This version of Chicken Tikka Masala is close to the original, but is a little different because of my food allergies to certain spices and dairy products. It’s also lighter on the calories and waistline since it’s both gluten and dairy free. Only don’t tell your family…they’ll never believe something with such rich, vibrant flavor isn’t laden with heavy cream and butter.
If you’ve never had Chicken Tikka Masala before think of it as a creamy tomato sauce with a slight kick. In place of heavy cream, I use a can of coconut milk. Sounds weird, but I promise it adds incredible flavor to an already amazing tomato-based sauce. I mean, the thickness of the coconut milk (coconut fat) is used as dairy free whipped cream. Think about that silky texture in the sauce. It may not be heavy cream, but I guarantee it’s so yummy you’ll never miss the dairy.
One trick to getting a perfectly balanced curry–full of savory flavor–is making sure you sauté your onions until they’re golden. Not caramelized, but perfectly golden. Like this:
Once your onions look like the picture above (about 15-20 mins on a medium heat, adjusting if necessary) add your garlic and curry blend. You want the spices to release their full potential, and toasting them is a great way to infuse hours of flavor into your sauce in a short amount of time. The curry blend with the onions and garlic should look like this while you’re toasting it for a minute or two:
After your curry is toasted and is finished hanging out with its garlic and onion friends, add the coconut milk and tomato sauce, stirring until everything is evenly mixed. Turn the heat down, toss in the chicken and simmer until you’re ready to serve.
You can either dig into it right away, or, if you’re a stronger person than me, you can let it sit there stewing in all its glorious goodness while you’re waiting for your sides. (Some people actually prefer to cook the chicken in the sauce, but I usually sauté it first out of personal preference.)
Speaking of sides, I love serving coconut rice and homemade naan with this meal, and highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to whip up your own naan. I’ve got a quick and tasty gluten free / dairy free naan recipe that can be found here. It takes about five minutes to prep, an hour for the dough to rise, and then another 15 minutes to cook them on a skillet. I’d start your dough first and let it sit while you’re chopping up onions and sautéing the chicken. By the time the sauce is ready and simmering, your dough should be ready to go.
When you’re tearing pieces of fresh bread off and dunking them in the silky, spicy goodness of the sauce, you’ll be so thankful for the extra work. In fact, I’d double the naan recipe and freeze whatever you don’t finish. Then you’ll have naan ready to go the next time you make Chicken Tikka Masala….
Because I guarantee you’ll be making it again soon. REALLY SOON. Because…addictions.
Here’s what you’ll need for your dairy free / gluten free Chicken Tikka Masala tonight:
*I’ve noticed the printable recipe doesn’t appear in the email notification. Be sure to click through to the website for the full/printable recipe card for your recipe box.