Well folks, the temperature has dipped to 55F/12C in New York City and Fall is officially here! As Sean is taking out all the air conditioners from our windows here in Harlem, I’m pulling out our slow cooker and thinking about different ways I can use it over the next few months. As you may know, I’m on a quest to find excellent slow cooker recipes — it’s not as easy as you might think, as many recipes actually don’t hold up well in a slow cooker — even the ones that are called “slow cooker recipes.”If you need a quick dinner fix on a busy day when you don’t have time to cook and you want to use your slow cooker, look no further because I’ve found a winner in this one.
I knew today was going to be especially busy for us, so I thought I would try my hand at making a good old fashioned lamb stew. Indian style. Last night, I took out some boneless stewing lamb from the freezer and set it to thaw overnight. This morning, I sautéed the lamb with onions, garlic and ginger, transferred it to my slow cooker insert, added a few key spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, and a bit of maple syrup. Et voila! After 4 hours on HIGH, my Indian-Style slow cooker lamb stew was done. We returned home from a bustling rainy afternoon, steamed some basmati rice, and settled on the sofa cradling steaming bowls of lamb stew over rice. It absolutely hit the spot. Big chunks of lamb just fell apart, soft and tender. Robed in a rich gravy thickened by tomatoes, cumin, and coriander, the bite from the red chilli flakes was rounded out by the maple syrup and topped by bits of fresh cilantro and mint. It warmed us up from head to toe. It was the perfect way to end a cold and rainy day in front of the fireplace, our wet umbrellas drying in the corner.
Weeknight Dinnersaver: Easy Indian-style Slow Cooker Lamb Stew
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 2 pounds boneless lamb
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground garam masala
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes OR ground cayenne (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if you like less bite)
- 2 teaspoons salt (to taste, you might need 2.5 teaspoons)
- 1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
- Fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Fresh mint, finely chopped
- In a wide non-stick skillet, heat canola oil on medium-high flame. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté until onions are golden and glassy (about 3-5 minutes).
- Add lamb and sauté until just browned. Using a large spoon, transfer contents of skillet into slow cooker insert. Add mint, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, red chilli flakes, salt, crushed tomatoes, and maple syrup. Mix well to combine.
- Cover and set slow cooker on HIGH for 4 hours OR on LOW for 8 hours.
- When slow cooker switches to WARM setting and stew is done, mix well and adjust salt and red chilli flakes to taste.
- Serve topped with chopped cilantro and mint.
- Instead of lamb, you can use boneless chicken thighs cut into medium size pieces or boneless stewing beef
- Add a finely chopped carrot and celery to the onion, garlic, ginger mixture to create an Indian-style mirepoix
- Toss a few baby potatoes into the slow cooker with everything else before turning it on
- Instead of rice, serve it with a nice crusty loaf of bread or hot naan