No-Cream Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala in Instant Pot

Chicken Tikka Masala is an extremely popular north-Indian dish, where tender and juicy, grilled pieces of chicken are simmered in a spiced creamy tomato gravy.  I have taken the traditional recipe, which requires heavy cream, and put a healthier spin on it. Try my guilt-free No-Cream Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala and I promise, you won’t miss the cream.

No-Cream Chicken Tikka Masala in Instant Pot

Chicken Tikka Masala is world-famous:-)

Chicken Tikka Masala is the British cousin of the popular Punjabi dish called Butter Chicken.  Rumor has it that it is among the most popular dishes in United Kingdom. I think they deserve the credit for putting Tikka Masala on world map. It is hard to find an Indian restaurant in the world, that doesn’t have this classic on it’s menu, and if you find one that doesn’t, don’t eat there:-)

Original Recipe vs. Low Calorie:

Traditionally, the chicken is marinated and grilled in a clay oven called Tandoor. The gravy using fresh tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes), onion, fresh ginger, garlic and garam masala, preferably homemade. The traditional recipe calls for heavy cream to balance the warmth of the spices and makes it rich and creamy. Chicken Tikka Masala is one of my children’s favorite dishes. So, to make an everyday healthier low calorie version of this dish, I substitute heavy cream with greek yogurt! The result is so spectacularly similar to the traditional version. Try it, I promise, you won’t miss the cream. And the big bonus is, that you won’t have to hit the gym after eating this.

Serving Suggestion:

Chicken Tikka Masala is best enjoyed with Jeera Rice (Cumin rice), or Butter Naan, and Cucumber Raita (Yogurt dip)!

Easy Recipe:

In this video, I have made this recipe in my programmable pressure cooker, Instant Pot. I start by marinating the meat and refrigerating it for 20-30 minutes, if time permits. When I plan ahead, I do this the night before, which gives it a good 14 hours or so of marination time. The marination time is totally hands-free, so I use it to prepare the sauce in the meantime. I finish the sautéing everything and puree the sauce. Then, using the SAUTE function of the Instant Pot, I lightly brown chicken on both sides . I remove the chicken and cut it up in bite size pieces and put it right back in the pot along with the sauce. Then I pressure cook it for 5-6 minutes and wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure and opening it.

Skipping the Marination: 30-minute version

If you’re skipping the marination process, you can make this dish in under 30 minutes, from start to finish. Simply add an extra teaspoon of Garam Masala to the sauce to compensate for the flavors in the marinade. Skip Step 1 and add the diced chicken pieces straight to the sauce and pressure cook the same way.

No-Cream Chicken Tikka Masala in Instant Pot

 

I have made this recipe many times in my Hawkins pressure cooker, as well as on the stove-top. Check out the Notes section for details on that.

Stove-Top Recipe for No-Cream Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala:

  1. Prepare the marinade for the chicken by combining ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, lime juice and yogurt. Pour it in a bowl, or a gallon size ziplock bag (for easy clean-up), and toss the chicken in it, till well coated. Refrigerate for 20 minutes- overnight. If you don’t have the time for that, leave it till you prep the sauce.
  2. Heat a wide bottom sauce pot on medium-high heat. Wait for 30 seconds, add olive oil + butter/ghee. Add chicken, grilling one minute on each side. The chicken will be raw at this point since in this step we’re sealing the marinade flavors. Remove chicken and keep aside. Skip this step if you’re skipping the marination process.
  3. In the pan, add onion, tomato, green chili, ginger-garlic and sauté for 2-3 minute. Add garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, paprika, turmeric and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 12-15 cashews and stir. Turn off the heat. Transfer onion mix to a blender, cool for 5 minutes and blend into a smooth sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Add yogurt to the cooled sauce and blend again. Turn on the heat again and add sauce back in sauce pot, along with chicken and 1/2 cup water (skip the water if you used canned diced tomatoes). Cover the pot.  When the sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. In the end, the chicken should be cooked and tender at this point.
  5. If the tomatoes were tart to begin with, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon sugar to balance flavors (optional). Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy Chicken Tikka Masala with Cumin Rice (Jeera Rice) or Garlic Naan!

No-Cream Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala in Instant Pot

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 30 minutes total (no marination), 45 minutes (with marination)

Ingredients

  • MARINADE for chicken:
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (fat trimmed) OR boneless skinless breast
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (1/2 inch piece of ginger + 3 cloves of garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime

  • SAUCE:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon butter/ghee (If using one of the two- 2 tbsp.)
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped/sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (1/2 inch piece of ginger + 3 cloves of garlic)
  • 4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced, or, one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 12-15 cashews
  • 3 tablespoons plain full-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions

1

Prep: Prepare the marinade for the chicken by combining ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, lime juice and yogurt. Pour it in a bowl, or a gallon size ziplock bag (for easy clean-up), and toss the chicken in it, till well coated. Refrigerate for 15 minutes- overnight. If you don't have the time for that, leave it till you prep the sauce.

2

Turn IP on SAUTE. When the display reads "hot", about 30 seconds, add olive oil + butter/ghee. Add chicken, grilling one minute on each side. The chicken will be raw at this point- in this step we're sealing the marinade flavors. Remove chicken and keep aside.

3

For making sauce, add onion, tomato, green chili, ginger-garlic and sauté for one minute. Add garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt, paprika, turmeric and sauté for 30 seconds. Add 12-15 cashews and stir. Turn off IP. Transfer onion mix to a blender, cool for 5 minutes and blend into a smooth sauce.

4

Meanwhile, cut chicken into bite-size pieces.Add yogurt to the cooled sauce and blend again. Add sauce back in IP along with chicken and 1/4 cup water (skip the water if you used canned diced tomatoes). Close lid. Vent set to SEALING. MANUAL (hi-press) for 6 minutes. Open lid after natural pressure release or QR after 5 minutes. If the tomatoes were tart to begin with, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon sugar to balance flavors (optional). Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy Chicken Tikka Masala with Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice) or Garlic or Butter Naan!

Notes

30 minute version: If you are in a rush, you can skip Step 1 and add the diced chicken pieces straight to the sauce and pressure cook the same way. Simply add an extra teaspoon of Garam Masala to the sauce to compensate for the flavors in the marinade.

HAWKINS Pressure cooker: Follow all instructions till step 3 in the pressure cooker. In Step 4, pressure cook for 7-8 minutes on medium-high flame after the first whistle.

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