Monday, November 1, 2010

Crockpot Creation: Chicken Tikka Masala

So it was pizza night at the gym. But Jordan refused to go. Thus dinner was a mismatch of all sorts of things in the kitchen. Today was a crazy day in the office. It was long. I got a lot done but then more and more things kept coming up. It never seemed to end. Now it night time. I am excited to share with you our Sunday cooking adventure.

One of my favorite Indian dishes is Chicken Tikka Masala. Tikka Masala is a creamy, spicy tomato sauce. The chicken is slow cooked till very tender. It is my go-to dish and any Indian restaurant. We don't go to Indian restaurants too often. We had a favorite in New York but before then there were a few misses. Bad Indian food is really bad.

It never occurred to me to make Indian food at home. After all I am not Indian. I don't try Chinese food either. I don't have that much interest in learning those cuisines. A few months ago, however, I was watching Throw down with Bobby Flay and it was for Chicken Tikka Masala. Suddenly I wanted to give it a try. After a bit of research finding recipes I realized I would have to get a few spices to replicate the dish. One particular spice, Garam masala alluded me for the longest time. I could not find it anywhere. Then the other week when I ventured to the new natural food store in town I checked out the bulk spice section. Low and behold there was Garam masala. I was set to attempt Chicken Tikka Masala.

One of the recipes was for the crock pot. I was sold.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Morgan's Menu


* 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 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)

1. 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.
2. Add the yogurt to the mixing bowl and mix it in with the spices and add in the chicken cubes.
3. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours if your schedule allows it.
4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
5. 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.
6. Add into the crockpot: chicken mixture, onion mixture, tomato sauce mixture, cashews and salt. Stir until all combined.
7. 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.
8. Stir in the half & half or cream towards the end when there is only about 20 more minutes of cooking.
Serve with Jasmine rice.
I think I will definitely give it another shot. After all I have more Garam masala to use up. For a crockpot meal it was definitely more steps and pans than I would like. The next time around I think I will find just a normal recipe. It was good, and just spicy enough.

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