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Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker

finished dish, served over basmati rice

It’s hot outside, and you don’t feel like cooking something complicated. You’d love to have Indian food, but don’t want to go to a restaurant in this pandemic? What do you do? Well, if you’re reading this today, not in the morning, it might be time to reach for your emergency can of Spaghetti O’s or make a grilled cheese sandwich as slow cooking does take a bit of time. But it’s so easy! Dump in the ingredients, make sure the cooker is plugged in (been there and done that before with a similar recipe) and turned on. 8 hours later, and dinner is ready!

You will want to take time to make some basmati rice to go along with this, but you can do that when you add the heavy cream towards the end. I’d also recommend some naan bread as a side dish (especially garlic naan). You can either buy or make that.

So, what do I put in the slow cooker? About 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces. A lot of recipes call for breast, but I feel like thigh is actually more flavorful. Either, or a mixture is fine.

In a large bowl, combine a yellow onion, chopped, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T. minced ginger (I usually keep a jar of minced ginger on hand, as I use it often, but not a lot at one go), 1 large can of tomato puree (28 oz, also called crushed tomatoes with some brands), 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 2 T. olive oil, 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. garam masala, 1 T. ground cumin, 1 1/2 t. paprika, 1 t. salt, 3/4 t. cinnamon, 3/4 t. black pepper, and 1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Mix it all together and pour over the chicken. Add two bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I mixed it all and poured it over the onions. Works just as well!

6-8 hours later, mix 1 cup heavy cream with 1 1/2 t. cornstarch. Pour mixture in and stir to combine all. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Use this time to prepare some basmati rice. I recommend a rice cooker to make this step as easy as possible.

combine cream and cornstarch
Stir the cream mixture in, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.

Chicken Tikka Masala in a Slow Cooker

recipe found on

3 lb boneless skinless chicken (breast or thigh)

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. grated/minced ginger

1 28 oz can tomato puree/crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

2 T. olive oil

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. garam masala (look for this in international food stores)

1 T. cumin

1 1/2 t. paprika

1 t. salt (to taste)

3/4 t. cinnamon

3/4 t. black pepper

1-3 tsp. cayenne pepper (I went with 1 1/2)

2 bay leaves

1 c. heavy cream

1 1/2 t. cornstarch

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, tomato puree, plain yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garam masala, cumin, paprika, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Stir until combined. Pour half of sauce mixture into a large slow cooker, then add in diced chicken, followed by the rest of the sauce mixture. Add in two bay leaves. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. In a large liquid measure, whisk together heavy cream and cornstarch. Pour mixture into slow cooker and gently stir. Allow mixture to cook 20 minutes while you prepare basmati rice. Remove bay leaves before serving.

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