Butter chicken without butter and heavy cream!!! – A true surprise

When I watch Paula Deen on TV, I have one thing in mind?
When I read a restaurant menu, I have one thing in mind?
When I watch a fellow diner indulging in a double cheese hamburger, I have one thing in mind?
When I see a skinny chic walking with chocolate ice cream in hand, I have one thing in mind?
And that one thing is how good will it be if I can eat all I crave for and can still remain slim and healthy? I have had dreams about eating kesar kulfi, crisp pooris with sambar, heavily creamy Mugalai dishes,yummy briyani or deep fried Indian fritters. Yes, just in dreams. Even the Tuscan tomato bisque from Safeway which I love the most has heavy cream in it. How on earth will I shed some inches if I eat them all? I started to play around with fat-free sour cream, coconut cream, non-fat yogurt in Indian dishes and the results were encouraging enough to pursue my journey in that direction.One fine day I receive an email out of the blue from some newsletter I had subscribed long back. It read “use this in place of that to reduce the calories in your food”. That email is my angel from heaven. Well, I know I am exaggerating. But honestly when I read the mail, it ran in my mind that if the recipe clicks, it will indeed become my staple ingredient in the kitchen. A magic ingredient for many who love creamy soups and curry. Also days ago, I saw them being mentioned in Dr.Oz show. And that killer ingredient is SILKEN TOFU.
I have been experimenting on new dishes that are healthy and will help me lose weight. I google a lot about replacement ingredients for high calorie dishes like I found a wonderful chocolate mousse recipe with avocados. I love food and my husband loves them more than me. So I need to come up with a menu that will satisfy both our requirements: healthy, extremely tasty and of low calorie.
Butter chicken is one of our favorite dish. My husband would definitely order this when we dine in Indian restaurants. The juicy chicken chunks cooked in a creamy tomato sauce – a sauce made from cashews and heavy cream. Perfectly grilled chicken and perfectly simmered sauce will taste absolutely delicious with a charred garlic naan. Aw! my mouth is watering as I write this. And when I make this at home, my husbands wants it to taste the exact same way. So I go about adding butter, juicy tomatoes, spice powder, cashew paste and small carton of heavy cream. When it bubbles and growls in the hot pan, I add the grilled chicken and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. The entire kitchen smells heavenly of butter and milk. He would enjoy it with homemade chapati and I will watch him eat it. My heart would crave to join him. Sometimes I would fall a prey to this sinfully high calorie dinner and few times I would eat my chapati with grilled chicken and non-fat raita.
I came up with this kick ass butter chicken recipe with almonds and silken tofu just for people like me who are struggling with weightloss and who wants to enjoy a delicious meal like everyone. This dish can be eaten in phase 1 of South beach diet too. Isn’t that wonderful? I mean “What the hell?” I couldn’t even believe the fact.
When I served to S I didn’t tell him anything about the replacement ingredient. He ate this dinner like any other day. Quiet. Glued to the plate. I watched him as every bite went inside his mouth. He refilled the curry for the second time. I had a huge grin in my face. A proud moment indeed. I tricked him and he didn’t even know it. When I was cooking the butter chicken that day, I told myself that if he doesn’t complain about the change in taste then it means that I have succeeded. And now the second serving, you wouldn’t know how much thrilled I was. As I sat next to him to eat my dinner, I filled my plate with this butter chicken and chapati, he snubbed back saying “See, all your eating right has gone in the wind”. I smiled and replied like a child pleading to her mother “Please only today! Let me enjoy”. Days later I revealed the original recipe to him.

Serves 6-8
Source: Self

For the marinade
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tablespoon ginger – minced
1/2 tablespoon garlic – minced
1 teaspoon red chili powder (spicy) – use more or less as per your spice level
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup non-fat yogurt  – thick
1 teaspoon salt
For the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ginger – minced
1 tablespoon garlic – minced
2 teaspoon red chili powder (spicy) – use more or less as per your spice level
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
8 ripe tomato (medium sized) – pureed
500ml water
10-12 almonds
1/2 cup silken tofu
1 tablespoon garam masala
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cilantro – chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil to cook the chicken
1. Make a marinade with the ingredients listed under “for the marinade” section. Marinate the chicken pieces in the spice and yogurt mixture. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or minimum 30 minutes.Later, place a fresh saucepan on the next burner. Heat oil and cook the chicken pieces in 2-3 batches. Cook till they are 3/4 th done, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.
(or) You could pop the marinated chicken in a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes at 375’F (or)  You could grill them in a outdoor grill.
2. In a blender/mixie, make a smooth paste of tofu with little of its water. Set aside. Also make a paste of the almonds.
3. In a large cooking pan, add oil. Once they ripple, add the ginger and garlic. Keep sauteing it to avoid burning them, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle turmeric, chili, coriander and cumin powder. Stir to combine, about 60 seconds.
4. Pour the tomato puree and mix well to combine. Cook covered for 30 minutes on low flame. After 20 minutes, open the lid and check for doneness. Stir well and cover to cook for further 10-15 minutes. The puree will be turned to a thick paste and oil will be separating along the sides.
5. Mix in the almond paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
6. Now add the water, little by little accordingly to the consistency you are looking for your gravy. Finally sprinkle garam masala and chicken pieces and let the sauce simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and switch off the flame. Gently fold in the silken tofu and cover. Let them stay warm until ready to serve.
Tastes best with naan, roti, paratha, chapati or rice.
1. Since it has almonds and silken tofu, its ideal for those in South beach diet.
2. The absence of heavy cream reduces its calorie by tremendous numbers. ! oz of silken tofu has 14 calories.
3. Perfect recipe for butter chicken lovers who are planning to lose weight but at the same time want to enjoy a creamy curry with their rice/roti.
4. This dish can also be enjoyed by women with gestational diabetes and also by those who are diabetic/pre-diabetic.
5. You can replace grilled chicken with grilled paneer or deep fried cauliflower or try even my baked meat balls.

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  1. I agree with you! In my dreams I can eat anything and everything and stay skinny… But since those are only dreams I love any good advice on how to save the extra calories!

  2. totally understand… the problems we women face….:) loved the presentation, dear…

  3. Bookmarked, and lovely information on substituting the fatty ingredients. Loved the snap too.

  4. Silken Tofu?! Brilliant!Thanks for your delicious and healthy experiments Vijitha! Making your chocolate mousse soon now I have to try this too!

  5. Wow, who knew you could add silken tofu to a creamy butter chicken to replace all that fat? What a great tip! I'm not a tofu fan on it's own, but I love the idea of using this to make a healthier creamy dish. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Would never guess the secret ingredients. Awesome substitute for cream. Got to try this soon!

  7. Oh wow – I absolutely adore butter chicken but don't make it often because it is so decadent! Your version looks absolutely amazing. Silken tofu is just brilliant! And I am so happy to discover your gorgeous blog – it's just stunning! 😀

  8. Wow my favourite curry less the guilt! I love it and glad to have met you otherwise I wont see this lovely blog of yours

  9. Anonymous 8 years ago


    I'm really excited to have found your blog! I love butter chicken! And I've been on a diet to try and lose weight. I tried making the butter chicken with you recipe but it didn't turn out looking like what you have in your picture. The color of my dish came out rather dark. I could smell all the spices but all I could taste is tomato..and really sour. Also I didn't add any water at all because the consistency of the tomato puree didn't come out that thick. Why would that be? Could this be because my tomatoes weren't ripe enough?

  10. Helo Anonymous
    Thanks for the kind words.I am so sorry that it didn't taste great. Did you like the taste of sauteed chicken? I think of few things that might have gone wrong.
    (a). Tomatoes must be really ripe. The juicy red ones. Hence the sourness. Sweet roma tomatoes, like the ones we use for bruchetta should be good.
    (b). Did you cook the gravy until oil separated along the sides? You should add water only when the gravy had thickened.I understand the sauce was watery from the beginning. Hmm! That's interesting.
    (c). Did you cook on a electric stove? I cook on gas stove and cooking time varies from stove to stove.
    (d). The presence of spice smell is because of reduced cooking time.
    Hope this helps.
    Pop me an email spicesnaroma@gmail.com if you have any more doubts.


  11. What is the final ingredient in the marinade list? After the 1/4 cup yogurt it says, “1 teaspoon” but it doesn't say 1 teaspoon of what?

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