Apparently "tikka masala" is a pretty vague term. Generally it involves chicken, tomatoes, and Indian spices but there's a ton of variety among recipes. But, this is how I like it. As a bonus, it's incredibly simple to make.
What makes it so easy? First, everything gets dumped into the slow cooker, rather than having to attentively stir and simmer on the stove. Second, the use of garam masala precludes the need to measure out tons of individual spices. Finally, I used a tip that I got from recipes in Slow Cooker Revolution to microwave the aromatics prior to slow cooking to deepen the flavor without having to use the stove. To me, once I start sauteeing and dirtying pans it defeats the purpose of the crock pot.
Usually the chicken for this dish is marinated in yogurt, but in order to keep it dairy-free I just added lemon juice to tenderize the chicken and add some acidity. I didn't bother marinating since everything gets simmered for so long.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 Tbs ghee or coconut oil
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lemon
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 1 small can (5-6 oz) tomato paste
- 1 10-oz can mild RoTel or a 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut cream (I used Trader Joe's) or coconut milk solids (get just the solids as per the tutorial in this recipe) or heavy cream
- 1 small bunch cilantro, minced
- Combine the onion, ghee, garlic, and garam masala in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. I did 1 minute, stir, 2 minutes, stir, then 2 minutes again, stir.
- Add the tomato paste to the onion mixture (it's easiest to incorporate while the onions are still hot).
- Dump the chicken in your slow cooker. Squeeze the lemon juice over it and sprinkle with salt. Mix in the onion mixture along with the cayenne and diced tomatoes. Combine everything thoroughly so that the chicken is nestled in the sauce.
- Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until tender.
- Before serving, stir in the coconut cream and minced cilantro.