Thursday, February 22, 2018
Health

Weeknight Chicken Tikka Masala: flavorful, easy, inexpensive, healthy and quick

I'm a big fan of saving takeout and delivery food for true cravings, not convenience. Even the healthiest of eaters has a few culinary vices, For us, it's Indian and Thai food and pizza delivery.

Sometimes, we just want our favorite pizza delivered ("doorbell pizza" my girls called it when they were younger), and no homemade version will scratch the itch. Fine. But calling in an order of pad Thai and dumplings just because we can't be bothered to spend a few minutes to make our own food is a troubling slippery slope. Delivery isn't the devil, but save it for cravings.

The key to fending off the temptation to order in takeout as a convenience on a busy weeknight is to have a few easy recipes in your toolkit that you can whip out at a moment's notice. And, it has to be easy enough to execute, even if I don't think of it until 5 p.m.

For me, bonus points if it's ethnic food. Since we don't have an Indian restaurant within a 20-minute radius of my house, I've been re-creating the flavors at home.

Today's recipe, Weeknight Chicken Tikka Masala, is a bit of a recipe hack; not fully authentic, I'll admit. But the spices are easy to keep on hand (and truth: if you are missing one of them, make the recipe anyway and the world will continue to spin), the recipe is fast to prepare since it uses boneless, skinless chicken breast, and it can be made totally nonspicy or loaded up with whatever spice you have on hand, from sriracha to fresh serranos, or even just cayenne pepper.

Frozen chicken breasts won't slow you down either: Microwave for a minute or two until the meat is thawed enough to cut into cubes small enough to thaw quickly. I indulge in a small amount of cream added at the end, which brings a lushness that is worth the few extra grams of fat, but feel free to sub plain Greek yogurt if you wish.

This dish hits all the marks: It's full of flavor, easy, inexpensive, healthy and quick. Serve it over brown rice, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice or just plain raw baby spinach leaves for extra nutrition.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."

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