Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

IMG_8406

For many years, I owned a slow cooker that I hardly used.  It was my grandmother’s old Crock Pot, and it had a small crack down the side of the ceramic insert.  While it still functioned, I eventually stopped using it.  I knew that, one day, the small crack would turn into a big crack and our dinner would be all over the counter!

For Christmas two years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a brand new model that I have put to work more than I ever did my grandmother’s relic.  From breakfast to dessert options, I have discovered a myriad of uses for it that travel far beyond the beef stew that was my original Crock Pot meal.

I make no firm claims as to the ethnic authenticity of the following recipe, yet this speedy version of an Indian classic has become a go-to dinner for me on a busy day.  It’s great for casual weekend dinners with friends, too.  The prep can be completed in a flash, and then the slow cooker takes over.  The incredible aroma belies the ease of this comforting meal.

The complexity of this dish comes from a spice that may be new to many:  garam masala.  Like curry powder, garam masala is not just one spice, but a blend of many, including cumin, coriander, cardamom and cloves.  Available in the spice aisle of most large grocery stores, smaller (and extremely fresh) quantities are available at the Herb Shop at Lancaster’s Central Market, for those of you who live nearby.

Instead of using cream, I have substituted coconut milk for a healthier spin on the traditional recipe.  (If you don’t care for coconut, rest assured.  My husband, who is not a big fan, hasn’t detected this swap.)  I also like to garnish with mint instead of the more commonly used cilantro.  It adds a fresh flavor and is a great option for those who find cilantro to be a bit too pungent.  A bit of chopped cucumber adds a crisp finish and a nice counterbalance in texture.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
I have made this recipe using curry powder in place of the garam masala, and it is also delicious. If you have not tasted garam masala, however, I recommend that you try. You may further adapt this recipe by adding a cup or so of canned, rinsed garbanzo beans.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce (or about two cups homemade)
  2. 1/2 cup light or regular coconut milk (see notes)
  3. 1 large onion, chopped or sliced
  4. 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons tomato paste (see notes)
  6. 2 teaspoons garam masala (Indian spice blend)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  8. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  9. 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8-12, depending on size; could substitute chicken breasts)
  10. Cooked rice for serving
  11. Optional garnishes: chopped or sliced cucumber, fresh mint, and/or cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a slow cooker, combine the tomato sauce, coconut milk, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, sugar, salt (I use about 3/4 teaspoon) and several turns of the pepper mill.
  2. Place the chicken on top, flipping to moisten with the sauce. I put a few of the onion slices on top of the chicken as well.
  3. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.
  4. Shred chicken thighs, if desired, or leave whole. Serve chicken and sauce atop the cooked rice and garnish with cucumbers and fresh herbs, as desired.
Notes
  1. You may substitute cream for the coconut milk. In that case, stir in at the end of the cooking time.
  2. The tubes of tomato paste are handy when using small amounts. If using a can, consider freezing the leftover in one-tablespoon "globs" for future use.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

This recipe was happily shared with Recipes for My Boys’ Thursday’s Treasures and Foodie Friends Friday.

ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Ally

    This sounds so good, Ann! and, easy…4 steps, and BAM done!! Love it and you always come thru w/a creative twist…the mint garnish is sticking w/the ethnic (Middle Eastern, Lebanese, etc.) slant! Good choice 🙂 xo

    Reply
  2. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Roasted Cauliflower and New Potatoes with Blue Cheese

    1. Ann

      I love that your Indian husband would approve, Christie! I felt the need to make no claims to authenticity since I was adjusting based on taste, healthfulness, and ease of preparation. Your stamp of approval is a bonus…thank you!

      Reply
  3. Mary Lou Keller

    Ann, question on the coconut milk, does it matter if it is the canned variety or the kind that comes in the Tetra pak? That is what I have on hand, in my fridge.

    Reply
    1. Ann

      I always purchase the canned, but I imagine what you have would work. The only difference I can think of is if it is the kind used for drinking. Then it would be a less concentrated version so would be akin to using nonfat milk versus cream. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  4. Mary Lou Keller

    That answers my question perfectly Ann! and it makes sense. Next trip to grocery I will get some of the canned light coconut milk.

    I have another recipe that calls for coconut milk so i will stock up on it!

    Think I will try the recipe this weekend. I have chicken thighs in freezer, but I think they need to be skinned and boned. That is always daunting to me. :0

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You could certainly make this recipe with the bone-in chicken, Mary Lou. The boneless, skinless thighs or breasts do make it easy and a bit healthier though. You can shred the chicken easily right in the slow cooker, if desired, when there are no bones: )

      Reply
  5. Renee Drake

    This recipe looks fantastic! Your friend Elizabeth England sent me your site for the baked oatmeal but now I can’t decide which recipe to do first! I am a follower!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      You made my day, Renee! Please tell Elizabeth we were THRILLED to bump into her and spend some time together. My husband and I commented that there really is no better way to catch up with old friends than a long walk on the beach! I hope you enjoy both recipes and so appreciate the comment!

      Reply
  6. Mary Lou Keller

    I made this on Sunday and we liked it! I managed to skin and de-bone the chicken thighs..

    My sauce seemed awfully thin, is that the consistency it should be?

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Way to go on the skinning and deboning! As for the sauce, mine is not too thin. Recently, I cooked some chicken thighs that produced a lot of liquid when I baked them. I noticed this because it was far more than I typically get. I wonder if the same thing happened to you and it thinned the sauce a bit. In the future, you could add another tablespoon or two of tomato paste or cook for a half hour or so with the slow cooker lid removed. This will cook off some of the extra moisture. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Pingback: confections and musings » Blog Archive » slow cooker chicken tikka masala

  8. Paula

    OMG this is so good! I just made it. Added the entire can of coconut milk for more juice. Absolutely fabulous. Could not believe how easy this was. Thanks for a great recipe!

    Reply
    1. Ann

      Yay! I’m thrilled this was a success, Paula. Somewhere over the years I have been making this I also began adding extra coconut milk–and garam masala. You can’t go wrong!

      Reply
  9. Amie

    I use my crock pot at least once a week. I was looking for something new and since I don’t usually have Indian flavors in my regular dinner fare, this really caught my eye. I tried this recently and it was divine! Huge hit. It’s going into the regular meal rotation. I served with basmati rice, naan bread and a little chutney. I forgot the herbs and cucumber on top, but we have leftovers and I plan to remember then. As always, thanks for the fabulous recipes.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m thrilled you tried and liked, Amie. Thanks so much for your comment and glad these will be added to the regular rotation!

      Reply
      1. Amie

        Oh – and I took the extra coconut milk and made the rice with half water/half coconut milk. Great extra flavor! Thanks again!

        Reply