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Jan 8, 2007 11:56 PM

Chicken Tikka Masala-can I use yogurt, not cream?

I have a chicken tikka masala recipe that calls for 1-1/4 cups of double cream (heavy cream). Mind you this recipe serves four, but that is still a good shot of fat. Having never cooked this before, if it comes out well it is something I would want in regular rotation in my menu planning hence my need to lighten it up a bit.

I was thinking of replacing the cream with some plain yogurt. Thinking that the yogurt may curdle, I assume I would have to add it at the end instead of simmering it like I would the cream. I am also wondering if the yogurt will add too much of a distinct taste (that yogurt tang).

Does anyone have any insight or another alternative I could use besides the yogurt? Perhaps evaporated milk?

BTW, this recipe is from The Complete Indian Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar.

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  1. I've used yoghurt with success. But yes, I stewed the tomatoes first and added the yoghurt in last, a la a beef stroganoff. If you don't want to have that tang (which I like) you can use creme fraiche, but that won't solve your fat content problem.

    Usually, when I use large quantities of yoghurt or ricotta and the like, I will infuse something in them overnight to combat their blandness. Here, you could add a few handfuls of cilantro to the yoghurt the day before, no? Also, the water content of yoghurt is less than that of cream, so you'll need to compensate with a little water or stock.

    You could use non fat evaporated milk, but make sure you cook down the tomatoes further, or add less of their water or less of them entirely, since you will be using a "wetter" sauce finish.

    Honestly, if you are stewing the other ingredients first, and finishing with the dairy- just add until you get the consistancy you want.

    Here's a link to nutritional info for evaporated milk

    1. I have seen recipes where they always use yogurt not cream.

      1. I made Chicken Tikka Masala for the first time ever tonight, it's simmering on the stove waiting for the troops to gather. I used yogurt instead of cream, but only 1 cup. It's a super thick kind I bought at the Indian market (220 cal 9 grams of fat/cup). I was afraid to mix the yogurt in directly so I took out about a half a cup of sauce and mixed the yogurt in that, then blended it in (like making a custard). The yogurt has a definite tang, but then again this yogurt is much more strongly flavored than typical American yogurt. It turned out pretty yummy!

        1. I wouldn't use yogurt in CTM gravy. If you need to cut the fat, either make it without the cream, or make a dish that doesn't contain cream. I'd probably go with the latter. There's lots of creamless tandoori roasted chicken dishes.

          Ultimately, though, you might want to seek out another nationality of cuisine for everyday food if you're cutting fat. Even without the cream, you still need a hefty chunk of ghee/oil for sauteeing the onions. If you omit that too... it just wouldn't do the dish justice, imo.