x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Lose that, eat this: healthy-eating alternatives

The first of a new weekly column with recipes for simple, healthier alternatives to high-fat, high-calorie restaurant and fast-food favourites.

Monkey Business Images / Rex Features
Monkey Business Images / Rex Features

The average restaurant portion provides

Calories: 500

Total fat: 35g

Total carbohydrates: 6g

Protein: 40.5g

Chicken korma was originally eaten by Mogul royalty, who were famed for their love of rich, decadent food. Over the years the dish has taken on many different guises, but generally korma is thought of as a mild, creamy curry with a delicately spiced flavour.

In restaurants, that moreish sauce is often made with cream and ghee, large amounts of ground nuts and fried or creamed coconut, so it is hardly surprising that the calories add up - not to mention the fat content, which constitutes more than half of the recommended daily intake.

By altering the recipe slightly and swapping the heavy cream sauce for one made with yoghurt, this version still has plenty of flavour but doesn't have anywhere near as many calories.

Skinless chicken breasts are high in protein and low in fat and although they have a reputation for being dry, if you cook the meat by simmering it in liquid then this helps to keep it moist.

Marinating the chicken in the yoghurt mixture not only tenderises the meat but gives the spices a chance to penetrate.

As ever, in order to keep the fat and calorie content low, measurements are important. Cooking the dish in 2tsp of groundnut oil, rather than swimming in ghee, helps, as does carefully measuring the quantity of ground almonds that you add to the dish - you need just enough to make the sauce thicken.

Lastly, make sure that you don't fall at the final hurdle by selecting unhealthy accompaniments to eat with your curry.

Steer clear of deep-fried samosas, poppadoms and naan bread, and opt instead for steamed rice, a cucumber and tomato salad and a cooling raita, made from natural yoghurt.

Low-fat chicken korma

Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts

300ml natural yoghurt

1 tsp ground coriander

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

2cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tsp groundnut oil

6 cardamon pods

3 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

tsp garam masala

tsp ground cumin

150ml water

3 tbsp ground almonds

tsp sugar

handful coriander, leaves chopped

Salt and pepper


Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces (removing any visible fat) and tip into a large bowl. Add the yoghurt, ground coriander, finely chopped garlic and ginger and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or for a few hours if possible.

Heat the groundnut oil in a large pan or wok, and when hot add the cardamon pods, cloves and cinnamon. When the spices begin to sizzle and smell aromatic, add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. If the mixture begins to catch on the bottom of the pan, add a touch of water.

Stir in the garam masala and ground cumin and allow the spices to cook out for a couple of minutes before adding the chicken pieces and the marinade. Cook for 5 minutes, then pour over the water and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the ground almonds and sugar and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Taste to check the seasoning, adding salt if needed. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander just before serving.