The restaurant critic Giles Coren wrote recently that Indian restaurants, in the main, seriously need to up their game. Your average high street Indian is just not cutting it for me any more – dated interiors, predicable music, and more often than not average food. Contrast that to exciting Indian street food or modern, fresh and healthy Indian cafes and eateries that are cropping up in the cities. I concur with Giles: we want more from our ‘regular’ high street curry houses!
While we wait for that to happen with fingers and toes crossed that they take note, I have a suggestion: make Indian food at home. We all know that homemade is better. But this is never more true than when it comes to Indian food, in my opinion. There is simply no comparison between the fresh and complex flavours that you can create at home, and the (unfortunately) universal sauce that accompanies the meat or veg in all too many curry houses nowadays.
It is so easy, once you have the ingredients in – do one shop for them and you’re more or less sorted, bar the fresh veg and meat. Oh, and you’ll need a decent cookbook, too…
May I introduce you to Hari Ghotra, a recent discovery (thanks to a blogging friend who is helping to promote this Indian cooking star in the making). She has a YouTube channel, a website, and a new cookbook that this recipe is from (link below). I was sent a digital preview to try out – and man was I glad I did. If you don’t see much of me in the next few weeks, I’ll be found in my kitchen cooking from this book.
It’s a game changer – and I don’t say that lightly. (And I also get sent a sh*tload of books that don’t stand out that much.)
This chicken curry was one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Fresh, zingy, warming, spicy and creamy all at once. And it was made in a slow cooker. Yep, really. Think about it, slow cookers were made for Indian food – rice, dhal, curries – all perfect in the old ‘SC’…
For the health conscious amongst you, don’t let the title of this dish put you off; it’s called butter chicken but there is only 2 tablespoons of butter in it and you could even cut that down (or even out completely) if you wanted too. I replaced the cream with Greek yoghurt too as we had it in – and it’s healthier.
OK, OK, so there is a farly long list of ingredients to get going, but once you have those in you basically wang it all in the pot. There are two stages, but they aren’t difficult. I made this on a Wednesday, but busy working mums may (although you could do this in the morning and then the last bit when you get home?) prefer to do this on a weekend. But geez your family will loveyou for it. Replace this weekend’s takeaway with this and you will be SMUGGING ALL OVER THE PLACE.
My top tips for this curry: if feeding kids then consider leaving out the chilli – as mine did consider it too hot. You can always add some chopped fresh chillies over the top for grown ups after.
2nd tip (if you are going all out) is to make the curry first and set aside then use SC to make one of Hari’s rice dishes in it fresh – the curry will only develop in flavour and can be reheated. Or, for convenience, do like I did and served with 2 x pouches of that microwave wholegrain pilau rice, one of my hero midweek lifesaving ingredients at the moment.
3rd tip: this sauce – consider batch making this heavenly sauce and using it with veggies, lamb, prawns as it’s amazing.
Last tip: the sauce required blending (oh come on, it’s worth it and not that much work!) and I tried with a hand blender stick, but it didn’t cut it – try a proper blender or a nutribullet (what I used) instead.
If you wish to buy the book, and I seriously recommend that you do… here is the link (it is affiliate so you are helping me if you buy through this link, thanks!):
The Easy Indian Slow Cooker Cookbook: Prep-And-Go Restaurant Favorites to Make at Home
Fancy the book but don’t want to spend any money? Lucky you! I have a competition to win the book plus a lovely Hari Ghotra curry kit over at my Facebook page!
Makes: enough for 4 people
Takes: between 3 and 8 hours (but it’s slow cooking for all that time)
- 3 onions, roughly chopped
- 2-3 green chillies (be careful if feeding kids – maybe leave out)
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (I snapped one in half length ways so as not to overpower)
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tin of plum tomatoes (or chopped) PLUS rinse out tin with hot water – be careful hold the hot tin with a towel!
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder (again, be wary if cooking for kids)
- 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons butter (feel free to cut this down or even out and dry fry cumin seeds)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 12 chicken thighs, skinless, chopped into chunks
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (I couldn’t get these so I omitted and it was still great)
- 1 tablespoon of cream (or I used Greek yoghurt and it was gorgeous)
- Coriander to serve
- Heat your slow cooker to hot.
- Chuck all the sauce ingredients into it. Cook on High for 2 hours or Low for 4. Remove the cinnamon stick and blend the sauce.
- Then, in a frying pan, heat some butter, add the cumin seeds until fragrant (or dry fry). Add this to the pot.
- Now, add the cubed chicken too. And a little honey if using (I didn’t). Cook on High for 1 hour or Low for 3 or 4 hours.
- Serve with brown rice and coriander – and a dollop of mango chutney if you like!