To me, comfort food almost always involves rice. I guess it’s really all based on how you grew up. And while the only thing vaguely Indian that we ever ate was Korean curry rice (pronounced “ka-reh-ra-i-su”, which I didn’t realize until I was an adult was “curry rice”. seriously.), I do love most Indian food. Sure, spicy dishes are amazing, but nothing hits the spot more than chicken tikka masala.
Chicken tikka masala is a mild, tomato based curry that is very popular in Great Britain. Apparently, it’s a “true British national dish”, rumored to have been created by a Pakistani restaurant owner in Glasgow. Wherever it comes from, it is delicious and totally make-able at home.
I’ve made chicken tikka masala before, following the Cook’s Illustrated method. It’s a bit labor intensive, so I’ve been on the lookout for an easier recipe. I came across this slow-cooker version and knew I had to give it a try.
This recipe is still a bit of work, with the pre-cooking of the chicken and the sauce before you add them to the crock-pot. And seeing as how this was my first time trying this recipe, I followed the directions. However, I might just dump everything in the slow-cooker the next go round. I would start out on high heat, though, for about 3 hours so that the chicken has a chance to cook. Then reduce to low for the remaining 2 hours. But then again, you’re only dirtying one additional pan, so in the long run, it wasn’t so bad.
for the chicken:
2.5-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used 2 breasts and 4 thighs)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt (full fat)
4 tablespoons butter
1 whole jalapeno, pierced with a knife or cut lengthwise with seeds and ribs removed
for the sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tables Kosher salt
3 tablespoons garam masala
1 piece of fresh ginger, 2-3 inches, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups basmati rice or Indian Rice (See recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Cut the boneless, skinless chicken into 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 minutes before proceeding.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about half of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
Prepare the sauce. Return the pan you cooked the chicken in to the heat and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges. Stir in the garam masala, ginger and tomato paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken in the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. After the five hours, pour the heavy cream into the slow-cooker and stir gently until well mixed. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.
Serve over hot basmati or Indian rice (cook the basmati rice according to the package directions) topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.
2 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 (2-inch) piece cinnamon stick
2 pods cardamom
2 whole cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seed or 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas
Rinse and drain the rice prior to cooking. If using a rice cooker, add the rice and enough water to reach the 2-cup mark. Place the remaining ingredients (except the peas) on top of the rice, stir to combine and cook. If cooking on the stovetop, melt the butter and toast the spices for a couple minutes until fragrant. Stir in the rice and stir to coat. Add 3 1/2 cups water (or whatever your package says) and the salt and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. For both methods, once the rice is cooked, remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods, fluff with a fork and stir in the frozen peas– the heat from the rice will warm them through.