My love affair with the slow cooker continues, although this is the first time I've had it out since Christmas. But I fancy a curry feast this evening - the Husband's been away all week and Pink has had a night away with school so this evening will feel celebratory, with all of us back in the fold. All of us except Fred the dog who is spending the weekend in kennels while we travel back to England early tomorrow morning for a wedding. But he wouldn't enjoy this Butter Chicken Curry, and anyway, he had a jolly good walk on the beach this morning so I feel my conscience is relatively clear. Honest.
But before I start feeling guilty again about the dog, let's get back to the feelings of warmth and satisfaction I derive from having all of us (well., nearly all of us... I'm so sorry Fred...) under one roof at the end of the week, sitting at the table and sharing a meal together. By getting the main event in the slow cooker earlier today, it means I can mess about with dahl and possibly even some flatbreads later on and turn a simple curry into a feast.
Some of you will notice that I managed to sneak some pomegranate molasses in here. I'm feeling dreadfully guilty (not only about the dog) that despite enthusiastic encouragement from some quarters, I still have most of a bottle of the stuff mouldering in the cupboard. I wondered if it would do anything to the flavour of this curry beyond adding the sweetness that the sugar I used it in place of was supposed to do, and indeed there is a very subtle and rather pleasant tang to the concoction. Nothing earthshattering, but, you know, nice.
You need to get this into the slow cooker on low at least 5-6 hours before you want to eat, but it'll happily do its thang all day if you're out of the house. This is based on a recipe from the 'Ultimate Slow Cooker' book which I totally love. As well as my general tinkering, the original recipe includes a large red chilli which you de-seed and chop up with the onions ginger and garlic.
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
2 onions, peeled and each cut into 4
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
4cm piece of root ginger, peeled and halved
1 tbsp sunflower oil
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3-4 pieces
25g unsalted butter
1 tsp each of cumin seeds and fennel seeds, crushed
4 cardamom pods, bashed up
1 tsp each of ground turneric and smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinammon
300ml chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or you could use soft brown sugar)
5 tbsp double cream or plain yoghurt depending how decadent you are feeling
2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted
a good handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves
Pre-heat the slow cooker as per instructions.
Start by finely chopping (I use a food processor) the onions, garlic and ginger.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan and brown off the chicken pieces in batches on quite a high heat. When each batch is browned, remove from the pan and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen towel.
Reduce the heat, add the butter to the pan and when it's melted, add the onion mixture to the pan.
Cook gently till it starts to colour, then tip in the crush seeds, cardamom pods and the ground spices and cook for a further minute, stirring.
Pour in the chicken stock and add the tomato puree, pomegranate molasses and a good pinch of sea salt, and bring to the boil.
Tip the chicken into the slow cooker and pour the sauce in on top of it, pressing the chicken down so it's covered.
Replace the lid on the crock pot and cook on a low setting for 5-7 hours. When ready to serve, stir in the cream and serve with the toasted almonds and coriander sprinkled over the top.