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Friday, January 23, 2009

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

I think some of my friends and family are amused by the fact that I really (and I mean really) appreciate getting kitchen gadgets and goodies as gifts. For Christmas, my lovely friend, Cheryl, gave me a Silpin. I just about fell over with glee. Some girls like make up or accessories. I like microplane graters. What can I say?!

One of my most prized kitchen gadgets is a crockpot. I am certain that my crockpot got me through law school--otherwise I would have starved or relied on an obscene amount of candy bars at the library.  I would throw a bunch of stuff in it in the morning and hurry off to spend my day in classes, meetings, classes, and countless hours at the library.  I would come home in the late evening weary-eyed and completely exhausted and, lo and behold, there was something magical, warm and yummy waiting to comfort me in my ragged state.  It's not a pretty or uplifting scenario, I know, but it's the truth...

The law school part of my life is over, but I haven't forgotten about my trusty friend.  I think that the trickiest part about delicious crockpotting is understanding liquid ratios.  Like how much liquid certain vegetables might contribute to the whole thing or how much liquid (usually stock, soup, cream, or water) you need to have in total.  You don't want to put a bunch of stuff in it and then you forget that the vegetables you added tend to cook down and add a lot of liquid so the whole thing overflows.  No, that would not be good.  And you definitely don't want to put a bunch of stuff in the crockpot and not put enough liquid and actually you picked vegetables that soak up a lot of liquid and suddenly the whole thing is dried up and burning.  No, that would not be good either.  You want to aim for a happy medium so you have enough sauce to match whatever you put in...

This is one of my favorite crockpot recipes, because I loooove a good chicken tikka masala! After stewing away for hours, the chicken just melts away into a rich, spiced tomato cream sauce.


* 1.5 pounds of mixed boneless/skinless chicken breast and thighs, rinsed and cubed
* 3 inch piece of ginger, grated finely
* 5 cloves of garlic, grated finely
* 1-2 red chilies, finely chopped (optional if you like a little heat)
* 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds, lightly toasted
* 1 Tbsp. paprika
* 2 tsp. ground cumin
* 2 tsp. ground coriander
* 2 Tbsp. garam masala
* 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
* 1 Tbsp. canola oil
* 2 small or 1 large onion, thinly sliced
* 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
* 1.5 cups water (or chicken broth if preferred but then omit the salt)
* 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
* 1/2 cup ground cashews
* 1 tsp. kosher salt
* 1/2 cup half & half (or heavy cream)
* a few sprigs of cilantro (optional garnish)


* Mix the garlic, ginger, (chilies), mustard seeds, paprika, cumin, coriander, and garam masala in a bowl.  Put half of this mixture in a large mixing bowl and set the rest aside.
* Add the yogurt to the mixing bowl and mix it in with the spices and add in the chicken cubes.
* Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours if your schedule allows it.
* In another mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
* Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat and, when hot, add the onions and the remaining spice mixture and let the onions soften gently for about 5 minutes.
* Add into the crockpot: chicken mixture, onion mixture, tomato sauce mixture, cashews and salt.  Stir until all combined.
* Simmer on low for about 4-5 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.  This will thicken the liquid and the chicken will melt into tender shreds.
* Stir in the half & half or cream towards the end when there is only about 20 more minutes of cooking.
* Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Serve with brown basmati rice and naan.


Alison B. said...

I think I love you. This looks awesome!

Morgan Lee said...

Haha! I hope you enjoy it, Alison!

Anonymous said...

You don't specify what size can of tomato sauce. Since mine turned out more of a hearty soup (delicious, but not the consistency I expected), I'm guessing my 15oz can was too much. Can you post the correct size please? thanks!

Morgan Lee said...

Sorry about that! I used a small 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. Cooking it a bit longer too can reduce the amount of liquid if you want it to be thicker.

Anonymous said...

My husband is from Glasgow and misses Indian food SO much. Plus, I've been trying to use my crockpot more often so I figured I'd try to find a recipe to combine the two. The house smelled so fragrant the whole time the curry was cooking...our mouths were watering. I even managed to find garlic coriander naan bread to go with it. Several bites into our meal and everyone was praising me on how lovely the meal tasted. This is by far the BEST recipe I've come across for chicken tikka masala. My husband even agreed that for homecooking, it was pretty close to the real deal in Scotland. Even my sister who thinks Big Red gum is too spicy loved this meal. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and the fact that I can do it in the crockpot as well. Thanks so much...I think Saturdays will become our curry night from now on. :)

Joy Leksrisawat; Cara Hochhalter said...

This looks amazing. I am not sure if I am reading this wrong, but what do you do with the other half of the mustard seed / chile / yogurt mixture after you set it aside?

Morgan Lee said...

Half of the spice mixture goes in with the yogurt and then other half gets sauteed with the onions! Double the flavor. :)

Sarita said...

I have prepared this to simply throw in the crockpot tomorrow morning.

I have left the chicken to marinate overnight, Sauteed the spices and onions and stored in frigde, likewise with the tomato mixture.

Then, in the A M before I leave for work, I will throw it all into the crockpot, set it and go. I figure I can add the half and half with the cilantro when I return.

I will let you know how it goes!

Thanks for sharing what looks like a great recipe!

Jess Imboden said...

Mine turned out extremely soupy and pretty flavorless. Any suggestions? It was definitely lacking that main "MMMM I love chicken tikka!" flavor that captures your taste buds and puts them in a trance.

Morgan Lee said...

Jess-I am sorry to hear it didn't thicken! The whole thing only has 2.5 cups of liquid between the water and the tomato sauce, which isn't very much liquid. However, liquid quantities can vary greatly depending on how much additional liquid comes from your vegetables and meat after its been cooking. You could try to scale back the amount of water used? I should revisit this recipe because I have recently discovered using fenugreek leaves to give it that addicting flavor that I love so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm obsessed with the chicken tikka masala from Trader Joes, and have been looking to recreate it at home. This recipe came out good, however it was lacking the slight sweetness of the TJ version. This sounds weird, but I put a little splenda on one serving, and it was decent. Any other suggestions to add sweetness?
I also found that I didn't like the texture of the cashews after being in the crockpot, so I added some more as a garnish.
Thanks for posting this :)

Morgan Lee said...

Ive recently learned that a lot of "sweetness" in Indian food comes from a spice called fenugreek. You can but the leaves or in powder form and it adds an unmistakable flavor - you will think it tastes just like the restaurant!

I've been making a similar curry dish that is a lot more labor intensive, but nearly identical (and many times better) than what I've had in an authentic Indian restaurant. Stay tuned!