Four Recipes That Prove Indian Cuisine is Ideal for Crock-Pot Cooking
Indian cuisine features many dishes cooked low and slow, resulting in tender meats (when used) and thick, flavorful sauces, so it adapts very well to Crock-Pot cooking. In addition to the convenience that comes with using a Crock-Pot, slow-cooked Indian dishes are very versatile, adaptable to the use of convenient pantry items such as jarred sauces and curry pastes, prepared garlic and ginger, and spice blends. If you prefer to concoct your own blends of fresh and dried herbs and spices, that's an option too. Cook some rice or warm up naan breads, pour some chutneys and raita (a yogurt-cucumber dip) into dishes and you have the makings of an Indian feast with ease.
1. Lamb and Spinach Curry
Lamb is delicious cooked in a curry. It's flavorful enough to hold its own against robust spices, and it becomes fork-tender when slow-cooked. Cut boneless lamb into bite-sized pieces, or use whole chops, preferably bone-in for more flavor. Also add to the Crock-Pot some diced onions, minced garlic and ginger, ground turmeric, cumin and chili powder. Cover everything with beef broth, cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 8 hours, and then stir in copious handfuls of baby spinach to wilt just before stirring. A spoonful or more of plain yogurt at the end gives the sauce a creamy richness.
2. Aloo Gobi: Cauliflower and Potatoes
Aloo gobi is a classic, vegan-friendly dish of spiced cauliflower and potatoes that can be served as a side or main dish. Preparation is simple: Add to the Crock-Pot fresh or frozen cauliflower florets; a similar volume of diced potatoes, and about half as much of diced onions and tomatoes. Also add minced garlic, ginger, fresh chilies (to taste), and either curry powder or a blend of cumin, garam masala and turmeric, plus salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables on low for 4 hours or until they are tender. While they cook, the veggies release their juices, which combine with the warm spices to give them a light but flavor-packed coating.
3. Very Easy Chicken Curries
Enjoy the convenience of a jarred curry sauce plus the superior flavor and texture of slow-cooked chicken. Cook boneless, skinless chicken pieces in the Crock-Pot until they're very tender, about 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Pour the jar of sauce over the chicken, stir to combine, and continue cooking the curry until it's simmering, which will take about 30 to 60 minutes. You can include fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and mushrooms in this curry too. Find jars of curry sauce in the Indian or Asian section of many supermarkets and more variety at specialist groceries. You'll usually find among your options mild, creamy (and kid-friendly) korma, rich tikka masala, tomato-based rogan josh and decadent butter sauces.
4. Dal: A Flavorful Lentil Dish
Depending on its thickness and texture, the spiced lentil dish dal can be a main dish, a soup, a side or even a dip. Pour 1 to 2 cups of red, yellow or green lentils into the Crock-Pot and add a scoop of curry paste from a jar or a homemade paste of garlic, ginger and spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and chili powder. Minced onion adds flavor, as do diced tomatoes. Cover the lentils with about twice their volume in liquid, which could be broth, coconut milk or water. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary. Mash or blend the cooked lentils if you prefer a smooth texture.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.