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Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean schedules get any less hectic. So every now and then a slow cooker recipe that is both easy and delicious comes in very handy. This one fits the bill easily. If you’re not familiar with chicken tikka masala, think of it as Indian food for beginners. It’s spicy, but not in a heat-like way, in a spice way, but not overly so. Am I making any sense? It’s also wonderfully creamy and comforting.

ImageLet me elaborate on that spice thing. There are quite a few spices in this dish. Don’t let that scare you. Most are readily available in your supermarket or through mail order. The main spice (actually it’s not really a spice, it’s a blend of several different spices) in tikka masala is garam masala. The others that play a major role are cumin, cayenne, paprika and cinnamon. Nothing scary there!

The other main players in this cornucopia of goodness are crushed tomatoes, yogurt and a little cream at the end. Then there’s the chicken. Since this is a slow cooker recipe, I’m using thighs. They stay juicy longer than breasts. If you’d rather use breasts, that’s ok, just reduce the cooking time.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 9-10 chicken thighs (see notes)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tble ginger, finely grated
  • 1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt or 1 1/2 cups plain regular yogurt
  • 2 Tble lemon juice
  • 2 Tble olive oil
  • 2 Tble garam masala
  • 1 Tble cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (see notes)
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Blend all ingredients except chicken, heavy cream and cornstarch in a large bowl. Pour half of mixture into the crock of a large slow cooker. Place chicken on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours. In a large measuring cup mix together heavy cream and cornstarch. Pour mixture into slow cooker and gently stir. Allow mixture to cook 20 minutes while you prepare the rice. Serve over basmati rice. It goes nicely with the cucumber salad below as well.

Notes:

  • I used bone-in chicken thighs. I find that they will not dry out as easily as breasts or boneless thighs. They also happen to be what I had on hand and I was too lazy to debone. Just make sure you remove the bones before serving.
  • One teaspoon of cayenne sounds like a lot. But it isn’t in this case. That being said, it’s really just a guideline. Use as much or as little cayenne as you think your family can handle.
  • This recipe makes a lot. I mean A LOT. It can easily be halved. Just use a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes instead of a 28oz can. Or you could eat half and freeze half. That’s what I did.

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This cucumber salad is perfect with the spice of the chicken tikka masala. Also, cucumbers are in season right now, so it’s really the perfect salad with anything this time of the year. These cucumbers came out of my neighbors garden.

Cucumber Salad

  • 2 or 3 regular cucumbers or 1 english cucumber, halved and sliced in half-moons
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 3 or 4 Tble cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 Tble lemon juice
  • 1 Tble olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours until cucumbers are marinated. Salt and pepper to taste.

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