Are you looking for a curry recipe that’s quick to prepare, easy to cook and delicious to eat? Look no further. This Slow Cooker Chicken Curry recipe is perfect, with tender pieces of chicken covered in a medium spiced rich tomato sauce.
We all have our favourite dishes when it comes to visiting an Indian restaurant and it’s really satisfying to replicate them ourselves when cooking at home.
Sometimes however, we just want all the gorgeous flavours of a curry but don’t have the time to prepare it. That’s exactly where this recipe originates from – saving time at no sacrifice to taste!
This crockpot chicken curry involves no marinating, no pre-cooking and has a very simple preparation stage that takes less than 15 minutes. Even better, it’s likely that most of the ingredients are already in the cupboard – it really couldn’t be easier!
This slow cooker chicken curry has a lovely subtle fragrance of sweet paprika (I used Schwartz), garam masala (I used a sweet blend by Waitrose), cinnamon, and a warming chilli kick. I also add bay leaves to create an earthy extra dimension to the curry.
The sauce has a tomato base and is finished with a little double cream to balance the acidity. It’s a gorgeous silky sauce and I usually serve this with homemade naan breads to mop it all up at the end!
- Chicken. Use thighs as they’re great tasting, work well with a slow cooker and are cheap to buy.
- Tomato passata. Also known as sieved tomatoes, provides the base to our curry sauce.
- Herbs, spices and seasoning. Cumin, paprika, chilli power, cinnamon, garam masala, coriander and bay – all readily available from popular supermarkets if you don’t have them in the cupboard.
- Fresh chilli. Ensure you test them for heat before adding a whole chilli to your curry!
- Fresh ingredients. Peppers, onion, ginger, garlic and lemon.
- Double cream. Adds a lovely texture to the sauce once the curry is cooked.
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
The steps to make a slow cooker chicken curry are really simple. Start by preparing the fresh vegetables, garlic and ginger, and add them to the slow cooker along with the chunked chicken thighs.
Next add the herbs, flour, spices, seasoning, sugar and tomato puree and mix to evenly coat the ingredients. Then add the stock cube, tomato puree and lemon juice followed by the passata and bay leaves.
It’s worth noting that the chicken and vegetables won’t be submerged in the sauce – don’t worry! As the curry cooks, the chicken and vegetables release juices and create more liquid. Then….wait.
Just before serving swirl through some double cream and stir well, and the sauce will be a deliciously rich terracotta colour.
Add plenty of spices. There are a few standard techniques when it comes to preparing a curry; making a paste, making a ‘gravy’ base for the sauce, marinating the meat, and sometimes searing it at a high heat on a stove. How do you impart as much flavour in your slow cooker curries if you don’t do any of these stages? Well, it comes down to your ingredients; you simply need to add more spice and seasoning than you would normally to create a rich curry flavour in the dish.
Use fresh chillis and chilli powder. Dried ground chilli powder is great for adding heat to sauces, but can lack some of the crisp zesty flavour of fresh chilli peppers. On the other hand fresh chillies can be unpredictable, especially if using store bought. Sometimes they have no heat and sometimes they are extremely fiery! Chilli powder is used to ensure a base heat of the dish, and fresh chilli added in small quantities for a zesty and fresh taste.
Use Chicken Thighs. This recipe uses thighs because they soften and tenderise beautifully over time, and the higher fat content prevents them from drying out.
Don’t cut the chicken thighs too small. It’s best to cut the thighs into large chunks for slow cooker curries and casseroles. Cut too small they can end up losing shape after hours of cooking and stirring, resulting in a ‘shredded chicken’ effect. By keeping the pieces large, this is less likely to happen. Cutting each thigh into thirds often works best.
Adding Extra Vegetables
Adding vegetables to a slow cooker curry can be a great way to provide texture and variation in flavour. However, most vegetables cooked in the slow cooker will release water, resulting in a thinner curry sauce. To balance the extra liquid, simply add an additional half tablespoon of cornflour along with with the vegetables.
The exception to this rule are vegetables with high degrees of starch and lower amounts of water, e.g. potatoes. They’ll absorb liquid rather than release it! Check the sauce half way through cooking time and add extra water if required.
Popular additions are:
- Florets of cauliflower. Ensure the pieces of cauliflower aren’t cut too small to prevent them from disentegrating during cooking.
- Sweet potato. Cubes of around 2-3cm (1 inch) will ensure the sweet potato cooks through.
Spoon out a few tablespoons of sauce into a container, add a tablespoon of cornflour, mix well into a slurry, and stir back into the slow cooker.
Chicken curry will keep for three days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer in an airtight container. Ensure to defrost and reheat thoroughly before eating.
Serve slow cooker chicken curry with basmati rice and fresh coriander, I also highly recommend serving some Indian style breads as well (naan or chapati), just to mop up the delicious sauce!
The best ways to cool down a hot curry are:
Citric acid. Lemons or limes are great for tempering the raw heat from a chilli in a sauce. Add a squeeze to taste into the dish at the end.
Yogurt or cream. Added to the sauce the cool creaminess will counterbalance the spice from the chilli. Thick coconut milk or soy cream can also be used as alternatives.
Serve with plain natural yogurt or Raita – which is a classic Indian side dish of natural yogurt, cucumber and mint.
Chicken breast can be used in place of thighs, but you will need to reduce the cooking time to prevent them drying out. Breasts contain less fat and so, less moisture.
More Tasty Slow Cooker Curries
Crockpots are perfect for slow cooker curries – here are some alternatives you’ll enjoy:
Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 1 red pepper optional
- 1 green pepper optional
- 1 white onion large
- ½ red chilli pepper de-seeded and finely diced. Use less than half of the chilli to start if it is very hot in taste.
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- ginger thumb-sized piece peeled and grated or ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ lemon juice only
- 1½ tsp paprika sweet, ground paprika.
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin ground
- 2 tsp hot chilli powder
- 2 tsp coriander leaves, fresh or ground dried coriander
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cornflour or wheat flour
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 400 g (15 oz) tomato passata
- 1 chicken stock cube crumbled
- 2 bay leaves dried
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) double cream
- Peel and slice the onion and cut the peppers into thick slices. Add these to the slow cooker along with the garlic, ginger and fresh chilli pepper. Remove any sinew from the chicken thighs, cut each into thirds and add these to the pot.
- Spoon in the tomato puree, coriander, all of the spices (garam masala, paprika, cumin, chilli powder, cinnamon), salt, pepper, sugar and cornflour. Mix well to coat the chicken and vegetables in the tomato, seasoning and flour.
- Crumble in the chicken stock cube then add the tomato passata and lemon juice, and mix. Add the bay leaves, submerging them in the sauce, taking care not to break them into pieces. Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
- At the end of cooking time, stir the curry through in the slow cooker whilst pouring in the double cream. The sauce will blend to a lovely terracotta colour.
- Serve with basmati rice and fresh coriander.