cooking, desi, slow cooking

Chicken Tikka Masala Slow-Cook Style

Many years ago when we bought our first house, a friend came by for dessert and kindly brought a hostess gift: A slow cooker. A simple six quart slow cooker with a setting for low, high, and warm, and that’s pretty much about it. But that’s all I needed it to do for it to make my favorite dish in the whole wide world: Haleem. And yes, for about six years that’s all I ever used it for, to make my one favorite dish that, slow-cooked for 18 hours, I adored above all else.

While I love cooking, and don’t shy away from scary stuff like biryani, it’s not as easy as it once was what with one kiddo careening through the house on his balance bike while the other kiddo, who now refuses to chill in his pack-and-play, is on his never ending quest to find and consume any unswept crumbs that may come his way. Due to these kiddo-constraints, I began looking at my slow-cooker with new eyes and decided to explore what else I might enjoy making with it. [Though haleem does still continue making its regular appearance]

I made a few soups in the slow-cooker from a new book on slowcooking I purchased and while they were certainly good soups, my family preferred a more dinner-ish meal so I went a-googling and came upon Chicken Tikka Masala. I was intrigued as CTM is a complex dish that I’ve always been a touch intimidated to make. I researched a ton of recipes and ultimately combined ideas from here, here, here, and here, and then as usual added a couple of ideas of my own.

A couple of notes about my method: 

  • There are a myriad of ways to make this dish. Mine involves some prep work before putting it in the slow cooker. But many people simply toss all the mentioned ingredients into a pot and letting the slow cooker do the rest. I read that the prep work will help maximize flavors but know plenty who have written about great results by simply dumping and slow cooking.
  • Most recipes specified heavy cream for the meal. As someone who is trying to get rid of the baby weight, I just couldn’t justify doing this, and that is why you see half and half in the ingredients instead. If calorie count is not an issue I would highly suggest using heavy cream since it will be much richer and heartier, but I personally was thrilled with half and half for quite literally half the calories.


  •  7 boneless skinless chicken thighs [you could get away with up to 9 with the sauce volume]
  • 1.5 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons salt [to taste]
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1.5 teaspoons chili powder [to taste]
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 cup half and half [or heavy cream if you’re interested]
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch.
  • 2 jalapenos pierced
  • 1 diced large onion
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes


  • Chop up the chickens in cubes.
  • Toss the chicken in 1 tspn salt, the coriander and cumin powder, and yogurt. Make sure its completely coated and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • Melt 1 tbspn butter in a skillet and cook the marinated chicken in batches until the chicken browns and transfer it into the crock pot. For each new batch of chicken [don’t crowd the chicken on the pan] melt a tablespoon of butter.
  • Nestle the jalapenos atop the chicken
  • In the same pot add another tablespoon of butter and fry the onions and garam masala and salt until the onions are slightly golden on the edges. 
  • Toss in ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, chili powder, salt, and cook until it boils once and then transfer to the crockpot. Toss in bay leaves.
  • Cook on low for five hours.
  • Whisk corn starch with 1.5 cups of cream and add to the pot. Stir until blended.
  • Cover and cook on low for another 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro

And serve with naan or toss over a bed of rice and well, nomnomnom! This was my first slow cooker meal outside of haleem, but it certainly won’t be my last. Hope you enjoy this recipe, if you try it please do let me know! What other dishes do you love making in the slow cooker?

4 thoughts on “Chicken Tikka Masala Slow-Cook Style”

  1. ASA Aisha! I thoroughly enjoy your blog and can relate to a lot of what you write as a mom of two (almost 3 and almost 1), former lawyer, writer, and slow cooker! So, I felt I needed to turn you on to something that has, more than once, saved my life: The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. Lamb biryani will never be the same. 🙂


  2. Thanks Sofia! I appreciate the advice. Someone else has mentioned that book and the fact that you just said biryani might be possible to be made in a SLOW COOKER!? I'm sold!


  3. I tried out your recipe yesterday, and it was yummy! Next time I want to try only pre-cooking the onions / ginger / garlic part. I think the chicken and tomato mix can go in directly. We'll see…Thanks for sharing your recipes. My family has a recipe blog:
    We like using the slow cooker for the following: taco filling, chicken parisienne, split pea and sweet potato soup, and wild rice stuffed turkey. Some day I want to try the following in the slow cooker: baking bread, cooking pasta, and cooking whole sweet potatoes.


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