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I love to eat Indian curries but I’m not always in the mood to cook them because they usually require a lot of time standing at the stovetop. Not this one! This slow cooker chicken curry needs just a little bit of prep and once that’s done it’s “set it and forget it” – my favorite way of cooking. You start by briefly searing boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a Dutch oven, then fry spice seeds, pureed onion, carrot and a simple mix of a few ground spices. Next you add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth, bring everything to a boil and then transfer it to the slow cooker. Three hours later you open the lid, stir in sour cream and you’re ready to go! You can serve the curry with rice but I personally prefer naan for this one.
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 4 teaspoons curry powder (see notes)
- 4 teaspoons chili powder (if you don't have store-bought at hand, I have a homemade chili powder recipe)
- vegetable oil
- 4 – 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- ¼ teaspoon whole fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- ¼ teaspoon whole black, brown or yellow mustard seeds
- 1 whole star anise
- ½ carrot, sliced
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ⅔ cup sour cream (or more, if desired)
- cilantro (for garnish)
- Peel the onion and chop into ~ 1-inch chunks.
- Put onion into a pot along with 1 cup of water and boil without a lid until almost all water has evaporated. Let cool for a bit.
- Put ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry powder and chili powder together in a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of water and mix with a spoon to make a paste. Set aside.
- Transfer the boiled onion (along with any water there may be) into a food processor and process into a puree.
- Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering.
- Lightly season the chicken thighs with salt, then sear them on both sides in the hot oil.
- Turn the heat down.
- Move the chicken thighs over to one side of the Dutch oven and add fenugreek, cumin, coriander and mustard seeds to the other side. Fry the seeds for 4 - 5 minutes (the seeds need to sizzle but be careful not to burn them).
- Carefully add the onion puree (be careful, this will splatter!).
- Add the star anise and the carrot.
- Turn the heat back up and fry onion and carrot for 10 minutes.
- Remove the star anise.
- Add the spice paste and stir until you have a homogeneous mix.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth and mix well. Let the mix come to a boil, then transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours.
- Stir in the sour cream.
- Serve the curry with naan or rice and sprinkle with cilantro.
Food Photography and Styling: I chose my blue metal tray as the surface for this shot because I thought it contrasted nicely with the color of the curry. Initially I only had the napkin and the plate with the naan in the background but together with the curry pan those items formed a straight line that lead the eye out of the frame and to remedy that I added the little pewter tray with coriander seeds opposite the bread. I observed the rule of thirds and placed the horizon line on a dividing line and the sprig of cilantro on an intersection point.
Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.