It's time to get back in the saddle over here. Might take me a bit to catch up. Last night's dinner was just what I needed to inspire a return to rambling about food. My husband loves Indian food. It's his very favorite. Usually, I make some traditional dishes that were taught to me by some friends in Missouri (who came from India for residency), but those dishes require me to have my act together and plan in advance. Last night was the first time he was home for dinner in almost 3 weeks, so it seemed appropriate to prepare something he loved. I pinned this crockpot dish from Pinterest a few weeks ago and had been considering it. I usually don't care for chicken from the crockpot, but the reviews promised this wouldn't taste crockpot-ish, so I decided to give it a whirl. I was really impressed. If you want to have some pretty good tasting Indian food in your own home with about 10 minutes of effort, give this dish a try.
Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala
-adapted from dinnersdishesanddesserts.com (I fiddled with spices for our preferences)
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces (about 3 pounds). I didn't cut mine quite that small.
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh ginger, minced
- 1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
- 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt (you want full fat yogurt. Lowfat or plain will separate)
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T Garam Masala (you can get this at Hy-Vee. It comes in a bag so large that it would take me eternity to use it all. If you live in Rochester and want to make this, I'd be happy to spare 2T for you)
- 1 T cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like things hotter than what I consider to be 'pleasantly spicy' with my American taste buds. If you are a MN native, you will want to use less than 1/2 tsp)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup half and half (don't use the fat free kind)
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- chopped cilantro for garnish
In the insert of your slow cooker mix together onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, Garam Masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne. Once well combined and smooth, add chicken pieces, and toss to coat. Add bay leaves. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low (or 3-4 hours on high)Whisk together half and half with the cornstarch. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, stir in the half and half. Cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes. Serve over rice (preferrably basmati rice). Garnish with cilantro if desired.
Now, I do not think any Indian meal is complete without raita, which is the cucumber/yogurt salad. When I was working as a home health OT in Missouri, one of my kids' moms used to insist I eat lunch with them after our therapy session. She was from Chennai and taught me a lot about Southern Indian cuisine. She would always make me a feast that was delicious (and left me sweating), and this raita was always a welcome cool down with every bite. I never serve any Indian food in my home without this. It's a cinch to make and is great the next day. Adjust proportions to your liking.
- full fat plain yogurt (2-3 cups. I usually use a large container)
- 2-3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and grated on the holes of a large box grater (you can also use carrots, but I much prefer cucumber to carrots in this dish)
- 1/2 large red onion, minced very fine
- kosher salt--you will need quite a bit, but start with 1/2-1 tsp.
Mix all ingredients together and salt until it tastes good to you. I probably put at least a tsp in mine, but it just depends on how much yogurt you use. Salt until the unpleasant tang of the plain yogurt is gone and you have the urge to devour the whole bowl right there on the spot.
Don't forget the naan with this meal! I think Trader Joe's is pretty respectable, but I'm no expert. I've gotten some frozen at the International Market that was the same brand Sheela used, but I can't recall the name.