I will admit that until two years ago, I was not a fan of the slow cooker, or crock pot, a term I detest as it reminds me of 1970s wood paneling and old mustard colored shag carpeting. So when Eric and I received a slow cooker as a wedding present 11 years ago, I was ready to return it or donate it to someone who did like wood paneling or mustard colored shag carpeting. But, because Eric is wise, he wouldn't let me get rid of the slow cooker. And it stayed packed up in our storage closet until two years ago.
While I don't remember what prompted me to pull it out, I will say that it was one of the best kitchen-based decisions I've made. It's changed our life.
Another reason I didn't like the slow cooker is because everything I had eaten from a slow cooker was mush. Really, really mushy mush. It made no sense to me: okay, here is all this great flavor, but so what? It's all mush. I can barely discern what I'm eating.
I was dying to make Indian food in the slow cooker and found Anupy Singla's phenomenal book, The Indian Slow Cooker. I have tried many recipes in the book and not one has disappointed. I've made my own adjustments and increased or decreased the time I keep something in the slow cooker. I've also been doubling each recipe so I can store the excess in the freezer, which is imperative in our home.
The first recipe I tried was the Traditional Chicken Curry, which calls for 8 hours on low. I usually keep it in for 6 hours on low and let it sit for a few more hours. If it's in there for 8 hours in my slow cooker, the chicken will fall apart.
There are some ingredients from the original recipe I've left out (such as the canola oil) because I found them to be unnecessary. You may decide you want it with your own experimenting. One of the appealing things about this cookbook is that so many of the recipes do not require any oil, which is a common factor in Indian cooking.
The following is the Anupy Singla's recipe with my changes and modifications for a double batch. If you love Indian food and have a slow cooker, this book is a must.
6 pounds chicken thigh pieces, skinless, with or without bone
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes (original single batch recipe calls for 2 tomatoes; I add the whole can for extra broth)
2-1" pieces ginger, peeled and chopped
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1.5 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 cups yogurt
1.5 teaspoon red chile powder (original recipe calls for 1 tablespoons, which is fantastic, but not so much for my kids)
2 cinnamon sticks
8 green cardamom pods, cracked
1 cup boiling water
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
This truly is the most time consuming step in this recipe: peel and chop onions, garlic, and ginger.
Next, throw chopped onion, garlic, and ginger into a blender with a cup of water and mix until smooth.
Add 28-oz can of whole tomatoes and continue to mix.
Pour most of the mixture into the slow cooker, and add two cups of plain yogurt into the blender. Keeping some of the onion-tomato mixture will help blend the yogurt. I recommend not using Greek yogurt -- texture comes out grainy. At this point all of the mixture will have a pinkish hue but that is about to change.
Pour all mixture into the slow cooker and add spices and mix with a spoon.
My family and I have started eating brown rice as of three months ago and I found a wonderful basmati brown rice at the Indian grocery. No butter or salt added and it's delicious.
I mold the rice into a little ramekin and place onto a plate, then place chicken pieces, lots of sauce, and garnish with cilantro (see photo up top). Perfection.