A slow-cooker Indian feast
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said the slow cooker changed my life.
When my wife Brigitte and I rediscovered our parents’ favourite kitchen tool and started creating new recipes for it, my household’s meal repertoire grew exponentially. There’s no better way to save time and trouble while cooking amazingly tasty meals for an active family. That’s why I’ve just released my second slow cooker recipe book, Slower is Better, packed with 75 new recipes ranging from duck confit to the fluffiest pineapple upside-down cake you’ve ever had. Here’s a sneak peek: an entire Indian feast prepared in the slow cooker while you occupy yourself with, you know, life. Nuts for butter chicken The trick to this creamy and delicately spiced butter chicken recipe is the half-cup of finely ground cashews. It’s an amazing thickener that’s also packed with flavour. After you put everything into the slow cooker and tend to other business for four hours (or more if you leave it on warm), you’ll discover that the richness of the cashews has mingled with the cream, tomato, ginger, garlic and garam masala to create an addictively comforting dish.
Ricardo Tested 3 tbsp (30 g) unbleached all-purpose flour 1 tbsp (15 mL) garam masala 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin 1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder 3 lb (1.3 kg) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, each cut into 4 pieces 1/2 cup (65 g) cashews 1 onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh ginger 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced 3/4 cup (180 mL) 35-per-cent heavy cream 2 tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste 3/4 cup (180 mL) plain Greek yogurt Cilantro leaves, to taste Salt and pepper In the slow cooker, combine flour and spices. Add chicken and toss to coat with flour mixture.
In a small food processor or with a mortar and pestle, finely grind cashews.
Add nuts and remaining ingredients, except yogurt and cilantro, to slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. It can be maintained on warm for up to 4 hours.
When ready to serve, stir in yogurt. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with Indian-style pilaf and naan bread. Makes 8 servings. Red lamb curry The spice list is admittedly long, but you’ll see, every single one has a vital role to play. One taste of the finished product and you’ll be glad you expanded your spice pantry. Plus, when you think about it, mixing the spices together and browning the meat is the only actual work required. The slow cooker does the rest while you’re busy at work, at the gym, at the grocery store or whitewater rafting down the Grand River.
Red Lamb Curry
Ricardo Tested Curry paste 3 tbsp (45 mL) tomato paste 2 tbsp (30 mL) rice vinegar 2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 clove Salt and pepper Curry 31/2 lb (1.6 kg) boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed and cubed 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil 2 cups (375 g) baby potatoes, halved 1/2 cup (125 mL) chicken broth Curry paste In a small food processor, purée all the ingredients until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Curry In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown half the meat at a time in oil. Transfer to slow cooker.
Add potatoes and curry paste to slow cooker. Toss together well. Add broth and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. It can be maintained on warm for up to 8 hours.
Makes 6 servings. Squash and lentil curry The luxurious texture of this satisfying veggie curry comes courtesy of coconut milk and two types of lentils: green lentils that cook slowly to maintain their toothsome texture and red lentils that partially dissolve to add incredible body to the sauce. It doesn’t get easier than this recipe: Mix together, press “on” and walk away. My only tip is to not prep the ingredients the day before: The acidity in the tomatoes might make the coconut milk curdle.
Squash and Lentil Curry
Ricardo Tested 3 cups (750 mL) vegetable broth 1 can (398 mL) diced tomatoes 1 can (398 mL) coconut milk 1 cup (200 g) dried green lentils, rinsed and drained 1/2 cup (95 g) dried red lentils, rinsed and drained 2 cups (280 g) peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash 1 onion, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped 1 tsp chili powder 1/4 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp ground coriander 1/4 tsp ground turmeric Salt and pepper In slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. It can be maintained on warm for up to 8 hours. Serve with naan bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Sidekick: Ever struggle to make the perfect pilaf? No more! This basmati rice pilaf is simple and fast as can be to make (it only takes 20 minutes in the slow cooker).
The rice comes out perfumed with the complex aromas of fried onions, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. With a generous spoonful of my special cilantro sauce and the curry of your choice, everyone will lap it up and ask for seconds.
Ricardo Tested 11/2 cups (345 g) basmati rice 1 onion, finely chopped 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 3 pods cardamom 1 clove 1 bay leaf 1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches (5 cm) long 3 cups (750 mL) water Salt and pepper In a bowl, place rice and cover with cold water. Rinse rice and repeat until water runs clear. Drain well.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, brown onion in oil. Add garlic, spices and rice. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring until rice just begins to stick to bottom of pan. Add water. Stir and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook over low heat for about 12 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
Makes 6 servings. Try more of Ricardo’s recipes by visiting ricardocuisine.com. Ricardo’s latest cookbook, Slower Is Better, is now available online at StarStore.ca/Ricardo
The key to Ricardo’s butter chicken recipe from his new cookbook, Slower is Better, is the finely ground cashews.
From squash and lentil curry to the perfect pilaf, Slower is Better has recipes for an entire Indian feast.