07 March 2012

Slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

I'm not gonna lie: I have the coolest friends EVER!  If you don't know me or are not one of my friends... be jealous... and then let's become friends!!!  I have a few that are amazing career women, beautiful moms, fashionistas, artists, writers, photographers... everyone is unbelievably talented and God has blessed me with them.

Which brings me to my lovely friend Elizabeth over at Simply E3 Design. She and I first met our freshman year of college in Chicago.  It was a tumultuous year for me personally (a lot of esoteric soul searching) and for us as roommates with 2 other women.  Elizabeth and I clicked because we're both organized, motivated, mature, and appreciate apartment cleanliness.  This was not the case with the other 2 girls; throw in other girl drama and you get a typical first year of college roommate experience.  Elizabeth transferred back to Iowa after that year but thankfully, through the power of social networking, we've remained friends.

As a person, Elizabeth is lovely, classy (think Breakfast at Tiffany's meets Modern Eco Chic), and has an amazing eye for art and photography.  She can also cook, is raising one handsome son over in Germany, and is currently building her and her husband's dream house in Texas-- read all about the process on her blog.  She's a seasoned traveler, lived in Hawaii for 2 years... basically she's one of those disgustingly talented, intelligent people you just have to love.

E. has an avid interest in Indian food so she recently posted her recommended recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala here.  Yes, that's HER photograph, by the way.  I've always had an avid fear of Indian food mainly because I wouldn't know what to order besides Naan (which I could and would eat every day if human bodies didn't need nutrients and sustenance and what not), and even though we have an Indian grocer (that smells funny) with a restaurant across the street, I'm less than brave when it comes to this food genre.  Thus, I had to try an E. recommended recipe to kick off my adventure into Indian cuisine.

Here's the result:
It was DELICIOUS!!!  I can't wait to eat the leftovers after the rice absorbs the sauce and the flavors have time to marinate.  Seriously... I'm debating about getting a bowl right.this.minute.  I'm not going to post the recipe-- you can go to E3 Design for that-- but my cooking process wasn't exactly the same so I'll go into those details.

Hodge Podge notes... The cucumber relish is a great compliment, easy, but next time I want to toss in some avocado and use lime juice instead of lemon.  Refreshing.

Also, I'd garnish the Chicken with cilantro for an added flavor boost.

So.... I accidentally bought 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs last week for no reason and knew they'd be great for this.  HOWEVER, you need to cut the chicken into pieces ahead of time and I don't own the knives for that kind of work with raw meat.  Thus, I parboiled the chicken for 20 minutes then added the spices & yogurt.  

Instead of browning the chicken in quarters, I tossed the whole bunch in my 12 inch skillet to save time. And I only used 2 Tbsp of butter... 4 seemed like too much.

I used rock sugar (made from beets) instead of raw sugar because that's what I had on hand. As a result, I only added 2 heaping teaspoons because it's much sweeter than normal sugar.  It worked well.  

I used organic brown rice (NOT INSTANT) for the mixture.  It's extremely filling.

Finally, the biggest change was my replacement of the heavy cream with Lite Coconut Milk (Taste of Thai brand).  This....... was not intended.  I  SOMEONE forgot to put heavy cream on the list so it never made it to the checkout line. Fortunately I had a can of coconut milk for no reason.  My skim milk wasn't an option, and I was concerned subbing yogurt would hurt the flavor.  Anyway... coconut milk... BEST IDEA EVER.  I'm sure I lost out on some of the creaminess (which might be remedied if I use Greek yogurt with the chicken, though I did add extra cornstarch to the milk), but the dish wasn't acidic, too spicy, or funky tasting. Plus there's less fat and dairy, so this will be my key ingredient from now on.  Not to mention the leftover heavy cream would've gone bad whereas I used the entire 14.5oz can of coconut milk.

Overall, I recommend splurging on the boneless/skinless chicken thighs if you can find them, but I think next time I'll use chicken breasts so the sauce is chunkier.


  1. I am beyond flattered at your portrayal of me. It was a huge self esteem boost. Thank you. Of course the description goes both way. You yourself are beautiful, talented, and full of life. So glad we remained friends despite the drama.

    I loved how you improvised some of the ingredients. I haven't used coconut milk in cooking before but I shared this with my husband and he thinks I should try that next time. I've never heard of beet sugar but it sounds intriguing. I don't normally cook with chicken thighs but I think it's more flavorful and juicy than breasts with it comes to slow cookers anyway. I'm looking forward to making this again and finding some new ways to mix it up. I love taking a recipe and making it your own.

    1. Yes!! It's a cooking adventure.

      I've cooked with coconut milk in 2 recipes, this one and a "quick curried chicken." I believe I have a post about it in the archives if you're interested. That's another low cal chicken recipe that I just love... More like a Thai dish.

      The beet sugar-- it's technical term is German rock sugar! You're right in the heart of where it's made! Think rock candy but in small pieces and not flavored. It's got 25 calories per tsp, doesn't change the flavor of what you make, and is all natural. You can grind it up & bake with it too, just cut the recipe's sugar quantity in half. Hope you can find some, I get mine at Teavana.