Faithfully and strategically designed each week, my weekly menu is my sanity to organizing my weeknights. But there are some weeks when I’m terrible at sticking to my weekly menu. Sometimes I get out of work much later than anticipated and other times life gets in the way. Such was the way the past couple of weeks have been: the kitchen design center three evenings in a week, Lowe’s, meetings with our builder, to the house to three or four times in the late afternoon to see the “ooooo the roof!” or “yay the windows and siding!” Needless to say, my perfectly planned menu doesn’t always work out and I’m left with food in the freezer that either I don’t feel like using for its original intention or I’ve completely forgotten what the original intention actually was. Such is the case with the package of boneless skinless chicken thighs that I found last week. I let Google do all the hard work to find a new recipe and the one I found not only sounded amazing, but I already had all of the ingredients in the house for it.
Now, I’m not at all well-versed in Indian food and can probably count on 2 fingers how many times I’ve eaten it but I’ve been curious about the flavors and I’ve been wanting to try it at home (you know, in a controlled environment). And I have to say that both Kyle and I loved this tikka masala! The yogurt, tomatoes, and all of the spices combine into a warmly spiced stew that soaks into and tenderizes the chicken and leaves you with this amazing meal for a cold night. I especially loved the minimal prep, the slow cooker method, and being able to enjoy the smell of the cooking stew all afternoon long, but I’m sure you could make the whole recipe on the stovetop if you don’t have 4-5 hours to let the slow cooker do its thing. The only change I made to the recipe, which I’ve reflected below, is that I chose not to brown the chicken before putting it in the slow cooker. I didn’t want the extra fat and calories from the butter and I wanted to let the yogurt help to thicken the stew so I could also cut back on the heavy cream in the last step. My changes worked perfectly to help lighten up the dish and I think I’ve found a new favorite for us!
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
source: adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog
I halved this recipe but used four thighs and a whole jalapeno. Because the jalapeno is only pricked with a knife, the heat is at a controlled level in the dish. If you halve the recipe and opt to also cut a jalapeno in half, be prepared for additional heat because the seeds will have a chance to release into the stew. For a half recipe, I set the slow cooker for 4 hours on low and the chicken was perfectly cooked.
For the Chicken:
- 9 whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 whole jalapeno pepper, stem removed, pepper pierced several times with a sharp knife
For the Sauce:
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 whole large onion, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- 3 tbsp garam masala
- 1 piece fresh ginger, about 2-3 inches, peeled and grated or very finely minced
- 4 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2-3 tbsp heavy cream
- 4 cups cooked rice, hot
- cilantro for garnish
- Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Place the chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker and put the jalapeno on top of the chicken.
- To prepare the sauce, melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
- Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.
- Pour heavy cream into the slow cooker and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.
- Serve over hot rice topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.