A made from scratch Chicken Tikka recipe with spicy yogurt infused chargrilled chicken. Marinating the night before takes this super simple recipe from delicious to OMG AMAZING! Packed with 35g of protein and less than 4g of carbs, its a keto lovers dream.
What is Chicken Tikka?
Chicken Tikka is a grilled chicken dish which is popular in the Indian Subcontinent. Small pieces of boneless chicken is deeply marinated in a yogurt and spice based sauce, then grilled on a brazier or in a clay oven. The word Tikka is a Persian word which means pieces. The dish can be served as an appetizer or a main dish.
Chicken Tikka is also sometimes referred to as tandoori chicken tikka as the chicken is grilled in a tandoor oven.
Is Chicken Tikka Keto?
Packed with almost 35g of protein and less than 4g of carbohydrates per serving this recipe is a KETO LOVERS DREAM. The kebabs taste spicy with a tangy yogurt punch and the meat is seriously succulent and juicy. SInce the chicken can be marinated ahead it is great for those with busy schedules because you can just come home and pop it in the oven – its that easy!. All the ingredients are easy to find and if you use a little aluminum foil to line the baking sheet, clean-up is a cinch!.
What is the best way to simulate a tandoor oven at home?
The best way to simulate a tandoor oven at home is to use a charcoal barbeque which can reach temperatures as high as 550°F. If your only other option is your oven, use the broiler. Set the oven at 500°F broil and let it heat up for about a half hour. Place the chicken tikkas on an upper rack so that the skewers are about 6 inches from the flames. Broil on each side for about 10 minutes.
This is a really easy recipe because you probably already have all the ingredients at home. If not, everything is super easy to find at your local grocery store.
- For best results, use skinless and boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. You need the fattier meat to get that succulent, juicy texture which is a signature texture of this dish. Chicken breasts tends to become dry during the chargrilling process.
- Greek Yoghurt infuses the meat with a delicious, tangy flavor, and also tenderizes it more gently and effectively than regular acidic vinegar or citrus based marinades. Indian food typically uses plain full fat yoghurt is traditionally used in this recipe but low or non-fat yoghurt will work as well
- I like using a little lemon juice to help loosen the yoghurt and also infuse the meat with a subtle citrusy flavor.
- Fresh ginger garlic paste adds flavor and also acts as a meat tenderizer.
- Traditional Indian spices like turmeric, ground cumin powder and red chili powder are used in this recipe. The turmeric can be omitted if you prefer not to use it. Turmeric is used to add a golden color to the chicken and also has many health benefits.
- Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices which is widely used in Indian cuisine. Garam masala is made by toasting whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, cumin seeds and coriander seeds to release their aromatic flavors. The toasted whole spices are then ground into a powder. In a pinch, you can use cinnamon powder instead of garam masala.
- Adding a fat to the marinade in critical for carrying the fat soluble flavors to the meat. Ghee is used to not as a fat in this marinade but also to add a delicious nutty flavor. If you are looking for a non-dairy option, you can easily substitute the ghee with vegetable oil (e.g., corn, canola), olive, coconut or mustard oil.
Coriander Yogurt Sauce
The coriander yogurt sauce uses plain, whole milk yogurt, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, cilantro, red chili powder, green chili, garam masala, black pepper and salt. You can also use cayenne powder instead of red chili powder for more heat. Depending on your personal preference you can add a little sugar or your favorite sweetener to this sauce to make it slightly sweet.
How to make Chicken Tikka
Step One: Marinate the chicken
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the yogurt marinade. Add the boneless chicken pieces and mix, making sure all the chicken pieces are well covered. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge to marinate for at least a half hour. For optimal results allow the chicken to marinate overnight.
To blend or not to blend? I like blending my sauce because it is so easy and I like to throw if whole garlic and ginger when making my marinade. You can definitely hand mix the sauce because all the ingredients are will mix easily because they are in liquid or powder form.
Step Two: Chargrill the chicken
Stove, BBQ or Broiler/Oven? You will always get the tastiest results with the grill because of the smoky flavor. That being said, you can also get really good tikkas on a stovetop or broiler/oven. Pick whatever is convenient
Broiler/Oven: Set oven to 500°F Broil and wait a 1/2 hour for the oven to get really hot. Thread the marinated chicken on metal skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes. Place the skewered chicken on a wire rack on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Broil the Chicken Tikka for 9 minutes on each side about 6 inches from the broiler.
Stove: Preheat a cast iron skillet or a large pan over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Cook in batches and avoid over crowding so that the chicken sears and does not steam. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and brown on each side.
BBQ: Heat grill on high heat. Thread the chicken on skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes. Grill on each side for about 6 minutes or until cooked through and brown all over.
Step Three: Make the Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
- Blend all the ingredients. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
Tips on making the best Chicken Tikka
- Use skinless, boneless chicken thighs because you need the fat in the thigh meat. Chicken breast meat tends to dry out and not be as juicy.
- Marinate overnight for maximum flavor and tender succulent meat.
- Soak wooden skewers for at least 20 minutes before using to prevent them from burning.
How long does Chicken Tikka last in the fridge?
Chicken Tikka lasts for about 3 days in the fridge.
To reheat Chicken Tikka, place the cold meat in a saucepan with about 1-3 teaspoons of water. Heat the Chicken Tikka on medium-low heat and cover so that the steam heats the meat through, stirring occasionally as needed.
Reheating Chicken Tikka in the microwave, while convenient, is not preferable as microwaving can dry out the chicken.
Each serving of this Chicken Tikka Recipe has about 277 calories, 12.5g of fat and 3.6g of carbohydrates. The Cilantro Yogurt Sauce Recipe has about 25 calories, 2.7g of fat and 2.7g of carbohydrates (2.5g of net carbs).
This recipe yields approximately 8 servings. The nutrition information has been calculated using an online recipe nutrition calculator and is intended for informational purposes only. Please use it as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
- Beef Tikka – use the same marinade as the chicken except add two tablespoons of blended green papaya paste to help further tenderize the meat. Marinate for at least 6-24 hours (longer is better).
- Paneer Tikka – a vegetarian version where chunks of a non aged, non melting Indian cheese is used instead of chicken.
- Butter Chicken – Chicken Tikkas make the best Chicken Tikka Masala! Simply put the Chicken Tikkas into a delicious tomato based sauce using this Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe. You can also make Butter Chicken with leftover Chicken Tikka.
- Inside wraps and sandwiches – Chicken Tikka is particularly delicious inside wraps and sandwiches.
- Coconut milk marinade – Add about 1/4 cup of coconut milk to the marinade for a delicious coconut flavor.
For a keto compliant meal, serve Chicken Tikka kebab with a light cucumber or green salad on the side. Other tasty sides include curried cauliflower, sautéed spinach in garlic and olive oil and roasted low carb vegetables like zucchini and red peppers.
For those with no dietary restrictions, a perfect tikka dish would include homemade Roti and a glass of refreshing Mango Lassi. Chicken Tikka also goes very well with garlic naan bread, crusty Two Hour Artisan Bread sandwiches and as a pizza topping with Homemade Thin Crust Pizza Dough.
Chicken Tikka FAQs
Tandoor is a metal or clay oven used in cooking and baking is used in Southern and Central Asia. Tikka is a dish consisting of yogurt and spice marinated meat which is cooked in a tandoor and typically served dry.
Chicken Tikka are yogurt and spice marinated meat which has been grilled in tandoor and typically served dry. Chicken Tikka Masala includes Chicken Tikka cooked in a spicy, tomato based sauce. Chicken Tikka Masala is typically spicier than Chicken Tikka as the sauce also includes chili powder and green chilis.
Chicken Tikka (kebabs) served in restuarants are typically a deep red due to the addition of food color. Chicken Tikka Masala which is Chicken Tikka in a spicy tomato sauce is red because one of the main ingredients is pureed tomatoes.
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Finally, if you make this recipe
I’d love to hear how it went – please leave a comment and rate this recipe. Above all, I love hearing from all of you and will do my best to answer each and every comment!
Chicken Tikka – Indian Keto Recipe
- 2 pounds chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup plain yoghurt full fat
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon garlic crushed or minced
- 1 Tablespoon ginger crushed or minced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
- 11/2 teaspoon red chili powder to taste
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ghee melted
- red food color optional
Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup yogurt whole milk, Greek style
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar/sweetener optional
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt to taste
Marinate the chicken
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken and mix, making sure all the chicken pieces are well covered. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge to marinate for at least a half hour. For optimal results allow the chicken to marinate overnight.
Chargrill the chicken
- Broiler/Oven: Set oven to 500°F Broil and wait a 1/2 hour for the oven to get really hot. Thread the marinated chicken on metal skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes. Place the skewered chicken on a wire rack on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Broil the Chicken Tikka for 9 minutes on each side about 6 inches from the broiler.Stove: Preheat a cast iron skillet or a large pan over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Cook in batches and avoid over crowding so that the chicken sears and does not steam. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and brown on each side.BBQ: Heat grill on high heat. Thread the chicken on skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 20 minutes. Grill on each side for about 6 minutes or until cooked through and brown all over.
Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
- Stir together all the ingredients, then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.