Most of us North Americans are surprised to learn that adding spices to a dish that will be fed to babies and toddlers is common practice in other cultures. There is a believe that these seasonings open children’s’ taste buds to new flavours, and can often replace sugar and salt in a recipe, making it healthier for the whole family. I happen to agree. Not to mention, most warming “winter” spices lend themselves well to cough and cold season, and have even been known to aid in the prevention of flus and other unwanted household sicknesses at this time of year.
This slow cooker coconut chicken curry is an excellent way to introduce ethnic dishes and new spices to your family table, without the heat that often accompanies these types of recipes. I’ve been feeding food like this to my boys since their toddler years, and I think their palates are all the better for it. The fact that it can be made in a slow cooker and serves six, ensuring there’s a little leftover for the next day’s lunch, is just an added bonus.
Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry
The sauce in this recipe is on the thinner side, which I like because it allows me to drizzle it over the rice. If you prefer something a little thicker, mix two tablespoons of cornstarch into the second can of coconut milk before adding it to the slow cooker.
For the spice blend:
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Tbsp. curry powder (preferably Madras)
For the curry:
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsps. olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 two-inch piece of ginger, minced
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
1 lb. yellow-fleshed potatoes cut into 2” chunks
2 cans coconut milk
3 cups frozen peas
Optional: cooked rice, fresh cilantro, chopped cashews, and hot sauce
Combine the spice blend ingredients and set aside.
Heat the butter and one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic, and ginger, stirring frequently, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add all but two teaspoons of the spice blend and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute then scrap the mixture into a slow cooker.
Return the skillet to the stove and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the chicken pieces, cooking until brown on both sides. Add the chicken and potatoes to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Cover with one can of coconut milk, mix well, and cook on low for 4 hours.
Stir in the peas, the remaining spice blend and the second can of coconut milk and cook for an additional 30-45 minutes or until the peas and sauce are heated through.
Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro and chopped cashews, if desired.
This dish isn’t very spicy making it perfect for the whole family. To add a little heat, feel free to include ½ - 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the spice blend to kick up the heat a bit, or alternatively serve with lots of hot sauce.
If you prefer your curry without the potatoes, remove them from the recipe and add an extra pound of chicken to the dish.