Slow cookers (commonly referred to as crock pots by many people after the original brand name) come in a number of different types and sizes with a variety of different potential cooking settings. It is imperative before following any slow cooker recipe that you do read the manufacturer's instructions relevant to your device as recipes may require adapting - particularly with regards to cooking time - to suit a different type of cooker. It may also be that your particular product requires to be filled to a certain level or not filled beyond a certain level in order to function at its optimum efficiency. On the plus side, meat in particular cooked in a slow cooker is likely to have a level of juiciness and tenderness that you may not have encountered before and it is more than worth spending a little time experimenting with this cooking technique to get it just right.

Chicken Thigh Bhuna
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Whole chicken thigh bhuna on turmeric spiced rice

Ingredients (Serves 1)

  • 2 whole chicken thighs (bone in)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon medium strength chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon medium strength curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 cup fresh chicken stock
  • 1 medium sized fresh tomato
  • ½ cup (3 ounces) basmati or long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), 1 each for sauce and rice


Frying Spices
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cooking spices are added to vegetable oil

Pour the vegetable oil in to a medium sized pot and add the chili powder, curry powder and garam masala. Season further with a little bit of salt and pepper. Put the pot on to a low to medium heat and stir for a minute or two with a wooden spoon to gently cook the harshness from the spices. Do be careful not to burn them or they will cause the served dish to be bitter and unpleasant to eat rather than spicy and tasty.

Onion in Spices
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Onion and garlic are added to spiced oil

Peel the onion and cut it in half down through the center before laying each half flat on your chopping board and slicing moderately thinly across the way. Peel the garlic clove and dice. Add both to the pot with the spiced oil and cook gently for a further couple of minutes until the onion strands are separated and just starting to soften.

Canned Tomatoes added to Spiced Onion
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Canned tomatoes are poured in to the pot with softened and spiced onion

Pour the canned tomatoes and chicken stock in to the pot and stir well. Turn up the heat to bring the combination to a gentle simmer.

Fresh Tomatoes added to Sauce
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Fresh tomato wedges are added to bhuna sauce

Cut the fresh tomato in to six wedges and add it to the sauce. This is optional but does provide an extra little bit of texture. You could also choose to add this ingredient only towards the very end of the cooking time at the same stage as the chopped cilantro.

Bhuna Sauce
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Bhuna sauce is brought to a gentle simmer

When the sauce begins to simmer, reduce the heat and continue to simmer gently (uncovered) for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. After this time, turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool completely.

Bhuna Sauce in Slow Cooker
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Half of bhuna sauce is added to slow cooker

Spoon half the cooled sauce only in to the cooking compartment of your slow cooker.

Thighs in Bhuna Sauce
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Skinned chicken thighs are laid in bhuna sauce

Peel the skin from the chicken thighs if this has not already been done. Lay them flesh sides up in the sauce in the slow cooker.

Sauce over Thighs
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Remaining sauce is spooned over chicken thighs

Spoon the remainder of your sauce over the chicken thighs and put the lid of the cooker in place. The cooking setting required on this device was "Auto" and the required cooking time was five hours.

Washing Rice
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Rice is washed under running cold water

A few minutes before the chicken bhuna cooking time is up, add the rice to a fine sieve and wash thoroughly under running cold water.

Rice in Turmeric Water
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Rice is added to simmering turmeric water

Put a large pot of water on to reach a boil, seasoning it with the ground turmeric and a little salt. When the water starts to boil, add the rice, stir briefly but well and adjust the heat to achieve a moderate simmer for ten minutes.

Slow Cooker Chicken Thigh Bhuna
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Slow cooker chicken thigh bhuna

As soon as the rice is on to cook, carefully remove the lid from the slow cooker but do not switch it off at this stage.

Chicken Thighs
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chicken pieces are removed from slow cooker to rest

Use a large slotted spoon to lift the chicken thighs only to a heated plate. Cover with aluminum foil and leave to rest for ten minutes.

Cilantro in Sauce
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Cilantro is added to bhuna sauce

Add the cilantro to the sauce in the slow cooker and stir with a wooden spoon. Replace the lid and leave for the flavors to infuse while the chicken is resting.

Cilantro in Rice
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Chopped cilantro is added to turmeric rice

Drain the rice through a sieve at your sink and leave for a couple of minutes to steam off. Warning - turmeric stains just about anything with which it comes in to contact (including sink enamel) so run plenty of water in to your sink as you are draining the rice and continue to run it until all the turmeric water is drained away. Tip the rice back in to the empty pot and add the second tablespoon of cilantro. Stir well to ensure the herb is evenly distributed.

Turmeric Rice
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Turmeric and cilantro rice is arranged as a bed on serving plate

Spoon the rice in to the base of a deep serving plate and spread it out evenly to form a bed for the chicken.

Thighs on Rice
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Rested thighs are lifted on to rice bed

Lift the rested thighs with cooking tongs on to the bed of rice. Spoon on as much of the sauce as you desire and serve the meal immediately.

Eating Chicken Thigh Bhuna
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Enjoying succulent chicken thigh bhuna with turmeric and cilantro rice