Eating Healthy Meals In The Middle East and Gulf States: Chicken Tikka Recipe

According to a United Nations report, the Gulf population has been rated among the world’s most obese. Two main factors the study cites for the Gulf population’s rising obesity rates are the increased availability of highly-processed food products and a genetic predisposition.

If you take a close look at the traditional Middle Eastern diet, you’ll find that it's largely based around fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and fresh herbs and spices. Instead of using animal-based saturated fats like butter or lard for cooking, Middle Eastern cuisine uses olive oil. Red meat, dairy, and sweets were eaten sparingly. For Gulf state nationals this has meant decades of well-balanced diets that are rich in nutrients and naturally low in cholesterol and saturated fats.

For those looking for healthy and nutrient-rich meals, there's no need to look outside traditional Middle Eastern and Gulf State cuisine. Today we're sharing an updated, healthy version of a long-time, household favorite, Chicken Tikka. Once you give this recipe a try, let us know what you think.

Chicken tikka on skewers with mint chutney

Ingredients for chicken tikka:  

  • 1/2 kg chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp raw papaya (ground, without skin and seeds)
  • 1 tbsp Tikka Masala (preferably Shan Spice Mix for Chicken Tikka)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt (to taste)

Ingredients for mint chutney:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste) 


Cut each chicken breast into medium sized, square pieces.

Whisk yogurt, garlic paste, ginger paste, lemon juice, papaya, tikka masala, and oil until it becomes a fine paste.

Apply this mixture to the chicken pieces, being sure to coat all sides well.

Place in the refrigerator and let the chicken marinate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven at 180˚C and grease the baking tray and oven grill.

Once chicken is finished marinating, thread chicken pieces onto the skewers and arrange them on the baking tray.

Place the baking tray and skewers in the oven for 40 minutes at 180˚C. Make sure the heat reaches all sides of the chicken.

For mint chutney, add finely chopped mint leaves in 1 cup yogurt, add caster sugar, salt, and tamarind paste. Mix well. 

Serve mint chutney with chicken tikka. Add iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes to your plate for some extra color!