Clean Fuel: Chicken Tikka and Chickpea Masala

This Indian dish is easy to prepare and will sustain you through long training days.

Endurance athletes require foods that provide sustained energy over multiple hours. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in chickpeas, provide the energy release necessary for keeping your performance going strong all the way to the finish. Chickpeas are an athlete-friendly carb that provide fiber and protein. They digest slowly and keep you feeling full longer, making this member of the pulse family a superfood for athletes.

Pairing chickpeas with chicken provides another critical source of fuel for endurance athletes – fats. Chicken is higher in naturally occurring healthy fats than red meat. Healthy fats maximize training by helping with nutrient absorption.

In this chicken tikka and chickpea masala preparation, I use chicken thighs because they are more flavorful and contain a bit more fat than chicken breasts, but the recipe will work well with any cut of chicken you use. The yogurt marinade tenderizes the meat, while the Indian-spiced masala sauce provides a full-flavor experience. This dish can be prepared in either a skillet or with a slow cooker.

Chicken Tikka and Chickpea Masala

[Photo courtesy of Kari Lund]

Prep time: 20 minutes not including marinade time

Cook time: 40 minutes via skillet or 4 hours via slow cooker

Yield: Serves 4

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs (organic, pasture raised if possible)
  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened Greek yogurt (dairy or coconut milk based)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Masala Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds crushed and pod discarded (or use a generous pinch of ground cardamom)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 15oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 15oz can chickpeas


  1. For the marinade, combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl except chicken and stir until smooth.
  2. Add chicken and stir to coat. Marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, turn on broiler and lay chicken pieces on a broiler pan or a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack on top.
  4. Broil chicken for 8 minutes and remove from oven.
  5. While chicken is broiling, sauté onion, ginger, and garlic with the olive oil until fragrant and beginning to soften.
  6. Add remaining masala sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
  7. If preparing with a slow cooker, add chicken and masala sauce to slow cooker and cook on low for about three and a half hours.
  8. If preparing in a skillet, add all ingredients to a deep skillet and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  9. To serve, plate chicken and top with chickpeas. Top with additional sauce and chopped cilantro.
  10. Serve with lettuce or whole grain naan to create wraps if desired.

Another Delicious Recipe from Kari:

Exotic Eats: Low-Carb Paleo Pad Thai