Although chicken tikka is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, here we have adapted it for the slow cooker with excellent results. Because you put together the spice mixture and marinate the chicken the night before, you have little work the next day except for turning on the slow cooker. (If you don’t have a slow cooker with a flameproof insert, start the dish in a sauté pan on the stovetop, then transfer the contents to a slow cooker after you deglaze the pan.) If you prefer some spicy heat, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the spice mixture. Serve with warmed naan bread or steamed basmati rice.
Chicken Tikka Masala
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 heaping Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tbs. ground cumin
- 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 2 tsp. garam masala
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 lb. (2 kg) skinless, bone-in chicken breast halves (4 to 5 breast halves)
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or ghee
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 can (28 oz./875 g) crushed tomatoes with juice
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. sugar (optional)
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
- Handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, coriander, garam masala and 1 Tbs. kosher salt. Then, in a second small bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and half of the spice mixture and stir to combine. Put the chicken in a large zippered plastic bag, pour in the yogurt mixture and seal the bag. Turn the bag several times to coat the chicken evenly with the marinade. Tightly cover the remaining spice mixture, then refrigerate the chicken and the spice mixture overnight.
2. Put a flameproof slow-cooker insert on the stove top over medium heat, then add the butter and warm to melt. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the sugar, if using, and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the insert bottom.
3. Transfer the insert to the slow cooker. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Add the chicken to the slow cooker in a single layer, if possible, then turn the chicken to coat evenly with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. The chicken should be very tender and opaque throughout.
4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool just until it can be handled. Meanwhile, stir the cream into the sauce in the slow cooker. Then, if you like, process the sauce with an immersion blender until smooth. Bone the chicken and discard the bones and any fat or gristle. Using your fingers or 2 forks, shred the meat into large chunks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker, stir well, re-cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 30 minutes to warm the chicken through.
5. Transfer the chicken and sauce to a warm serving bowl or individual plates and garnish with the cilantro. Serve immediately. Serves 8.
Learn to make the most of your slow cooker with this and other inspiring recipes in our Quick Slow Cooking, by Kim Laidlaw.