Relax and take it slow

The Healthy Slow Cooker, by Ross Dobson, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99.
The Healthy Slow Cooker, by Ross Dobson, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99.
Making healthy meals packed with flavour is easy in a slow cooker, Australian chef and food writer Ross Dobson says.


In his latest recipe book, The Healthy Slow Cooker, he shows that it doesn’t take too much effort to make food in the slow cooker that is not only healthy but can also be gluten free, vegan or vegetarian.

He uses inspiration from Asia, India and Middle East, whose flavours, ingredients and spices work well in a slow cooker.

It is full of advice - the fat does not escape in a slow cooker, so trim meat before using, turn the slow cooker on as soon as you start a recipe and do not lift the lid during cooking;  and pantry suggestions - canned tomatoes, canned and dried beans and legumes, dried pasta and noodles, good quality soy sauce and tamari, fish sauce and stock, mustard and cornflour.

Dobson says not to forget seafood as the low heat in a slow cooker gently poaches and steams seafood to perfection.

The slightly puzzling thing about this book is the recipes in the “weekday dinners” section take between two and four hours to cook, which does not work very well if you leave the house for an eight-hour work day - even if you like to eat after 8pm.

However, the “set and forget” section does have recipes that take a full eight or nine hours so would be perfect for a working day.

The book also has sections for Sunday suppers, soups, curry night and Saturday night specials.

 

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied

Light butter chicken

We all love butter chicken, but it can be a guilty pleasure. This version, however, is delicious and contains only a tablespoon of butter, which works out to be barely a teaspoon per person.

So put aside any guilt and enjoy!


SERVES 4

GLUTEN-FREE

Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 4½ hours

750g chicken thigh fillets
1 brown onion, chopped
3cm piece ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large green chilli, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
½ tsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 Tbsp tomato paste (concentrated pure)
2 tsp chicken stock powder
400g  can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 cup (260g) natural yoghurt

To serve
brown basmati rice
handful roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)
lemon wedges

Method

Heat your slow cooker to high.

Trim the fat from the chicken thighs and discard. Cut each thigh in half, or into thirds if large, bearing in mind that they will shrink as they cook. Refrigerate until needed.

Put the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli into a food processor and process until you have a chunky paste.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the paste and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid from the onion has evaporated and the paste looks dry. Stir through the butter and cook for a minute until the butter has melted.

Stir in the chilli powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala, paprika and cardamom pods. Add 2 tablespoons cold water and stir to incorporate any stuck-on bits.

Stir in the tomato paste and stock powder, then scrape the contents of the frying pan into the bowl of the slow cooker.

Add the crushed tomatoes, cornflour, yoghurt and chicken. Give everything a good stir, nudging the chicken into the sauce, then cover and cook for two hours.

Give it a stir, then quickly cover again to avoid losing too much heat. Cook for a further two hours, until the chicken is very tender and the sauce is thick.

Serve the butter chicken on brown basmati rice, garnished with chopped coriander and with lemon wedges on the side.

Photo: Jeremy Simons
Photo: Jeremy Simons

Indian spiced root vegetables

SERVES 4

GLUTEN-FREE
Prep time 20 minutes
Cooking time 4½ hours

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2cm  piece ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp chilli flakes
3 Tbsp chicken or vegetable stock
4 small waxy potatoes, halved
200g pumpkin, skin on and cut into wedges
2 small parsnips, peeled and quartered
4 hard-boiled eggs
handful mint leaves
handful flat-leaf parsley leaves

To serve
lime wedges

Rather like an exotic bubble and squeak, but starting with raw veges and giving them an Indian twist, thereʼs no need to wait until you have leftovers from a roast dinner to give this a try. As well as being a comforting supper, it makes an awesome brunch, topped with your favourite style of egg. I can never get enough boiled eggs, and Iʼm particularly partial to a roughly chopped hard-boiled egg.

Method

Heat your slow cooker to high.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until aromatic. Stir through the cumin and chilli and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the stock, then remove from the heat.

Tumble the potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips into the bowl of the slow cooker.

Pour the stock mixture over the vegetables, then cover and cook for three hours. Give everything a gentle stir, so you don’t break up the veges too much, then cover and cook for one hour, until the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if you like.

Transfer to a serving platter. Peel and roughly chop the hard-boiled eggs, then scatter over the vegetables, along with the herbs. Serve with lime wedges on the side.


 

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