June 23, 2011 at 9:39 am , by Megan Weiss
TV journalist turned cook, Anupy Singla, takes the hesitation out of Indian cooking and introduces the flavors of her culture into (our favorite) the slow cooker! How easy is that? We asked the India native to share with us her top 5 myths about Indian cooking and a great traditional slow cooker recipe that will have you on your way towards a passion for her native cuisine.
Myth #1: All Indian food is too hot-spicy. Heat, which you get from cayenne or fresh, chile peppers is different than flavor. Traditional Indian spices like garam masala, cumin seed, and ground coriander add depth and flavor (not heat!) to your dish. If you don’t like a lot of heat, just leave out the chiles
Myth #2: You need dozens of unfamiliar spices. There are many spices used in Indian cooking but to get started you really only need about seven essentials: cumin and mustard seeds, ground coriander, garam masala (a traditional mix of spices you purchase as one), turmeric, cayenne, and salt. We’ll bet you already have most of these in the cupboard.
Myth #3: Indian food is oily and laden with cream. This is the type of food that some restaurants have become accustomed to serving. Indian food served in most households is anything but heavy and unhealthy. Most dishes eaten day-to-day are made with little to no oil and usually without cream.
Myth #4: Naan is a bread always eaten with Indian food. Only in restaurants. Remember, naan (a leavened bread made of white flour) is traditionally made in a tandoori oven – not something most Indian homes have. In a traditional home, Indians make roti – a much healthier whole wheat alternative that is cooked on the stovetop and is essentially flour and water.
Myth #5: Good Indian food can’t be made in a slow cooker. The very idea of slow heat used to cook meats, lentils and beans to perfection is a style of Indian cooking that is over two centuries old and referred to as ‘Dum Pukht’ or Slow Oven cooking. Food and spices were put in heavy pots sealed shut with a wet dough. They were cooked over a very low flame and the ingredients were given hours to meld together, while the spices infused the dish — essentially the equivalent of the modern day slow cooker!
Try Anupy’s recipe for Traditional Chicken Curry!
Traditional Chicken Curry
Slow Cooker Size: 5-Quart
Cooking Time: 8 hours on low
Yield: 6-8 servings
3 pounds skinless, whole chicken, cut in about 8 pieces including the breast, legs, and wings (boneless can also be used)
1 large yellow or red onion, peeled and chopped roughly
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 (4-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped roughly
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup plain yogurt (regular, non-fat, or low-fat)
1 tbsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup dried methi (fenugreek) leaves (optional)
1 (2-4 inch) cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
4-6 green Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, halved lengthwise (optional)
1/4 cup boiling water (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Put the chicken in the slow cooker. (If the meat was frozen, defrost completely first.)
2. In a food processor, grind the onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic until smooth.
3. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Whisk in the salt, turmeric, garam masala, oil, yogurt, cayenne, and methi (if using). Pour the mixture over the chicken.
4. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and green chiles (if using). Mix gently.
5. Cook on low for about eight hours. If you want more broth with your chicken, add the water towards the end of cooking.
6. Remove the whole spices, garnish with cilantro and serve over a bed of basmati rice.
*Methi, or dried Fenugreek leaves are worth tracking down. They add a lot of richness to this dish. They can be found at most Indian grocery stores. If you don’t have them on hand, don’t worry.
* To make this in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. A half recipe makes 3 – 5 servings.
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