This Indian dish builds tremendous flavor by spending hours simmering away on the stove, but who has hours to watch over a dish? Let your slow cooker do all the work instead. The chicken is cooked with a traditional Indian spice, garam masala. Garam means "hot" and masala means "a mixture of spices" --- this spice blend carries a deep, smokey flavor with subtle heat. It produces a ton of rich, creamy sauce and rice is the perfect vessel to get the sauce from the plate to your mouth.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2-3 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons paprika (for an extra boost of flavor use smoked paprika)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- One (28-ounce) can roasted tomatoes
- 3/4 cup coconut milk (you can also use heavy cream, but I highly recommend using coconut milk)
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2-3 cups cooked rice, to serve (you can use whatever rice your family likes: basmati, long grain, sticky or brown)
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. You have 2 options here:
Option 1: Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Stir in the roasted tomatoes with their juices.
OR Option 2: Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, about 5 minutes, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of garam masala, paprika and salt and continue to sauté until fragrant, an additional 3-5 minutes. Then transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker with the chicken and roasted tomatoes. By sautéing the ingredients first, your tikka masala will have more depth of flavor. However, if you don’t have the time you don’t have to do this option. The dish will still be delicious!
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. 15 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk (or heavy cream). If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.
Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.
Tip for extra flavor: Marinate the chicken in 1 cup yogurt for up to 6 hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker.