That was my initial reaction when I stumbled on the book, The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. While flipping through the pages, I wondered if it was truly possible to make my favorites of Chana Masala Curry, Chicken Tikka, or even Gajar ki Halwa from a slow cooker. When I was a grad student with a job, I was often too exhausted to make dinner. Therefore, I liked the idea of having a slow cooker do the work for me. But, I have not seen a slow cooker until I was in my twenties. Growing up, my family didn’t use slow cookers, so I had no idea how it works. I had doubts such as: is it really safe to cook meat and vegetables in the same pot? (BTW, yes it is!)
The idea of coming home to a ready dinner was appealing. Curiosity got to me. After reading Singla’s chapter on slow cookers, I bought a 2.5-quart Crock Pot (on clearance, yay). That chapter was helpful when shopping for one. At a store, there are usually so many types with different features, sizes, and brands. Without knowing the basics, I would have no idea what to get. My old roomie gave me her 5-quart slow cooker before leaving to South America. I usually use the smaller one to cook for myself and the food usually lasts a few days. That is perfect for people who cook for themselves or for 1-2 people. The bigger one is ideal for parties and families. Another option is to freeze the extras.
The first recipe that I tried was Curried Chickpeas (Rasa walla Kabuli Chana) on page 77. I had to run to the local Indian store, Apna Bazaar, on NW Cornell and 173rd, Beaverton, to grab some things that my pantry lacked. Afterall, what kind of a desi am I without my spices like chili powder, cumin seeds, ground coriander among others? It felt nice to have these things in my apartment.
Apna Bazaar and India Connect (on Walker Road across Fred Meyer) are the two places where I usually buy desi groceries.
Another plus was using dry peas instead of canned. Singla pointed out that it is cheaper to buy dry legumes in bulk. Secondly, preservatives, salts, and other things found in canned foods can be avoided. Once I had everything prepared and tossed in the crock pot, I just had to turn it on. The instructions told me to keep it running for 14 hours, which is long. Most recipes in her book, depending on the type, typically took about 4-8 hours. When ready, the peas were soft and full of flavor. I had cranked up the chili powder and peppers, because I wanted it to be extra spicy. That can be easily adjusted to preferences and tolerance for spicy.
I’ve made other dishes from the book such as the Traditional Chicken Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala. I made chicken tikka masala for a party along with butter naan. The meats always came out tender and just right.
I highly recommend Anupy Singla’s The Indian Slow Cooker. She did an outstanding job with her book. I enjoyed reading her straightforward, candid approach that was drawn from her own experiences. I too learned a lot about spices and tricks of Indian cooking. You can also visit her blog, Indian as Apple Pie to learn more about Indian cooking.
Here’s an interview with her on ABC that includes a couple of her recipes, including the Traditional Chicken Curry.
As for me, I’ll definitely be using my Crock Pot more often after discovering its benefits.