Admittedly, it’s a little late to be talking about Christmas. But my family believes in celebrating Christmas until 12th Night. [Which just so happens to be a good excuse for leaving the tree up, kissing under the mistletoe, and blogging about Christmas food until January 6th.] So let me tell you about Cushing Christmas traditions and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Actually, let’s just talk about one tradition. But my favorite. My newest favorite because it’s only been done twice.
Two years ago, my brother spent his first Christmas with the in-laws, someone (me) couldn’t afford Christmas presents, someone (me) was moving cross-country, my parents were working overtime and never got the tree up… So we said, forget it. Let’s change up all the LIFE LONG traditions – traditions that literally define Christmas for me – and do it differently. And ya know what? Change is good.
Let’s first just look at some 2016 Christmas pics, mmmKay?
We changed our Christmas Eve food tradition big time. For as long as I can remember, we’ve had traditional Polish meal on Christmas Eve. Mom has made other suggestions over the years, but the rest of the family has always banded together and demanded (gently because Mom please we love your Polish food and you are such a good cook) that we have sour mushroom soup and pierogie and creamed herring. But last year we decided that, from then on, we would go to early mass (not midnight mass, another lapsed tradition), come home to PJ’s and cocktails, and make dinner as a family. International cuisine only.
2015: Chinese. 2016: Indian.
And so here we have Healthier Chicken Tikka Masala with Turmeric Cauliflower Rice. [Mom is rolling her eyes at me because I try to healthify everything. And WHY NOT.] [We did not healthify the December 24 version.]
Let’s take a peek inside my notes from the kitchen:
The first thing you love is the smell. My whole house smells like an Indian restaurant. (Don’t worry, it will go away). I must be doing this right. I’m gonna put garam masala on everything. It smells spectacular.
I just burned my tongue and I DON’T CARE because I burnt it on Healthier Chicken Tikka Masala. My tongue and I are doin’ a little happy dance with this warmth and spice. The good kind of spice. The kind of heat that starts in your cheeks and makes you blush. You’re giddy with it. You’re smiling and almost giggling. Eventually, you feel the heat creep down your neck, loosen your shoulders, tingle in your fingertips. I know it works like this because I’m eating it right now as I type. In fact, this typing has got to stop because it’s interfering with my moment.
And Here’s the deal with Turmeric Cauliflower Rice:
It’s totally optional. You can totally eat Tikka Masala with basmati or naan, but I had some riced cauliflower that needed using. I added turmeric to make it interesting and also, I think turmeric is trending? I feel like it’s been popping up everywhere because –> health.
According to WebMD, turmeric is maybe or maybe not good for just about anything. There’s good evidence that turmeric is possibly beneficial for those with high cholesterol or triglycerides, osteoarthritis, and chronic kidney disease.
And then there’s insufficient evidence that turmeric is good for a bajillion things like Alzheimer’s, cancer, Crohn’s, depression, diabetes, IBS, general pain, acne, headache, menstrual problems, and so on and so forth until we’ve covered all that ails you.
The cauliflower is a little crunchy (perfect against that creamy Tikka Masala) and the turmeric is a little bitter (perfect against that spicy warm Tikka Masala) and all in all, this dish hits the nail on the head. I think “spectacular” is the word I used.
Healthier Chicken Tikka Masala with Turmeric Cauliflower Rice
Healthier Chicken Tikka Masala has the warmth and spice that will make your tongue do a happy dance. This recipe has spectacular flavor.
For the marinade
- 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon garam masala*
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2- inch piece peeled ginger grated
For the dish
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 1 tablespoon butter or spread, I prefer Brummel & Brown
- 1 jalapeno optional, seeded and diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 3/4 plain plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup 1% milk
- 4 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the cauliflower rice
- 1/2 head cauliflower green parts removed
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
Marinate the chicken:
In a medium-sized bowl, combine chicken with Greek yogurt, garam masala, lemon juice, black pepper, and ginger. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.
Heat a large, deep-rimmed skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, chicken, and marinade and cook until chicken is mostly done, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter, jalapeno, and garlic and saute about 1 minute until garlic becomes aromatic. Add the tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, garam masala, paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through. Best served over cauliflower rice, basmati rice, or with naan bread.
For the cauliflower rice:
Use a medium to large grater or use the grater attachment on your food processor to rice your cauliflower. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower and water and cook until the water has evaporated or until the cauliflower is slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Add an extra tablespoon of water if needed. Stir in turmeric.
*Can't find garam masala? Get it here or mix the following together and store in a glass jar: 2 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoon ground coriander, 4 teaspoons ground pepper, 4 teaspoons ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons ground cloves, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
Garam masala and turmeric can be hard to find, so just in case: