Monday, March 4, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Curry

Crock Pot Chicken Curry over rice & with mango-ginger chutney & salad
The following recipe was inspired by the chicken curry recipe in Mary Tregellas' "Homemade Preserves & Jams" cookbook, which was our giveaway for the March 1st Crock Pot Game on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page.

I've made it both with bone-in chicken breasts (shown on left) as well as with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (shown further down in this post). While the former makes a prettier dish, I recommend the latter for richer chicken flavor and also to avoid all the little bones (boneless breasts won't have that problem but they'll still lack the depth of flavor that dark meat has).

The heat level for my slow-cooker chicken curry is a mild-medium; if you want a spicier curry, use more of the hot peppers and/or add hot chilies to suit your taste.  Finally, don't be intimidated by the lengthy list of ingredients: This recipe is extremely easy to make, whether you try the original in the cookbook or my crock pot version.

Curry spices
2 Tbs ghee (Indian clarified butter) or mild-flavored oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp tomato paste
4 whole green cardamom pods
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of ground habanero powder
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the ghee or oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion & garlic over medium-high heat until onion is softened & translucent. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into your crock pot or slow cooker. Place chicken thighs in single layer (if possible) over the mixture in the cooker, add tomato paste, all of the spices & pepper & 1/4 tsp salt, then pour in the water. Turn on crock pot and cook either on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, or on LOW for 6 or 7 hours, in either case stirring once at the half-way point (you will cook it for another 1 to 2 hours more after adding the yogurt sauce and peas).

Crock Pot Chicken Curry made with boneless skinless thighs
During the last hour of cooking, whisk together the yogurt, cornstarch and 1/2 tsp salt in a deep bowl until thoroughly combined. Using a ladle, slowly whisk in some of the hot liquid from the crock pot (this will "temper" the yogurt to prevent separation and will also begin the thickening process). Repeat this process 3 or 4 times with more hot liquid, being careful not to add too much hot liquid too quickly and thoroughly incorporating the liquid each time. When the sides of your bowl start to feel pretty warm and the sauce is relatively pourable, add the frozen peas to the crock pot and stir. Then slowly stir in the yogurt sauce, using a spatula to scrape all of it out of the bowl. Gently stir until thoroughly combined, then cover the crock pot and set to LOW. Cook for 1 to 2 more hours, until chicken is fork-tender and the sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste for balance: Add more salt to taste if desired, and if you can taste the cornstarch in the sauce, let it cook for another 30 minutes or more. Serve over basmati or other rice, or with Indian bread such as naan, and with a side of chutney or other similar condiments.

Zestfully yours,

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