Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I'm a pretty predictable person all around, but when it comes to food, I'm especially predictable. I always check the menu before going out to eat, and I almost always order the same thing when it comes to ethnic cuisine, which is to tell you I've had a ton of chicken tikka masala (and more pad Thai than you could possibly imagine). I'm a chicken tikka masala expert (also a samosa and sweet lassi expert), so trust me when I tell you this one is worth trying.

I don't think it beats this curry, but it's a close second, and there are two great things about it: it makes itself — you just put it in a crockpot all day — and it doesn't need rare ingredients (the reason I typically avoid making Asian dishes at home). I didn't do the optional extra steps (see below) (because I'm the laziest), and my chicken shredded a bit (despite getting thigh and not breast, breast shreds more), but overall, worth it.

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated (* I didn't have this and used 1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1-2 tablespoons garam masala 
2 teaspoons paprika 
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Fresh parsley, chopped 
2 cups cooked rice, to serve

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, paprika and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices. 

*If you have the time: Marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup yogurt for up to six hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker. 

*If you have the time: Mix the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, their stir in the ginger, tomato paste and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. This will give your tikka masala more depth of flavor.  

Cover the slow cooker and cook for four hours on high or eight hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the heavy cream. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice with fresh parsley sprinkled over the top of each serving.

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