The Lexingtonienne



My history as an athlete is not one for the books.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Although I really wanted to be a cheerleader, my parents couldn’t figure out how or where to sign me up. I swam on the swim team every summer, but the LCC Lizards were terrible and lost every meet. And for one spring season my super-white legs and I donned black shorts every Saturday morning for soccer. My team was called the Rockettes, which may in part be why we lost every. single. game.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I wasn’t terrible at all extracurricular activities though. Piano lessons, choir practice, or anything involving reading, writing, or art was totally my jam. But if there was a ball involved? Or physical exertion? “Um, excuse me. Why are we doing this?”

Chicken Tikka Masala

Finally, in college, I discovered a physical activity that I actually liked: YOGA. I dragged Best Friend Jenny to classes with me at The (really awesome) Massage Center, where I worked at the front desk, and which had just opened a yoga studio. We went two mornings each week and were starting to get pretty good.

Chicken Tikka Masala

But then… one day… during the relaxing part at the end of the class when you’re practicing corpse pose (aka just lying there on your back)… I got so totally blissed out and relaxed that…

I fell asleep.


I SNORTED myself awake.

You know, the snort-jolt you do when you fall asleep on an airplane with your head sort of bobbling around? Except there wasn’t any loud airplane noise to drown out my, “Whoops, I fell asleep!” SNORT. Just a quiet room full of yogis lying meditatively in savasana pose.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I tried coughing to cover it up, as if to say, “I wasn’t snoring, you guys. That’s how I cough.” But there was no fooling Best Friend Jenny, who started giggling next to me. Following The Snort Heard Round the World, my yoga days quickly went the way of my swimming and soccer days.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

As for Best Friend Jenny? She became a yoga teacher.

Chicken Tikka Masala

So while Best Friend Jenny turns herself into a pretzel on a daily basis, the closest I’ve come to yoga culture lately is making this Chicken Tikka Masala. For those unfamiliar with Indian fare, Chicken Tikka Masala is kind of like Indian Food 101; basically, it’s chicken in tomato sauce served over rice. It can be as mild or as spicy as you prefer. And with this recipe you just “set it and forget it” in the crock pot, so it’s surprisingly simple to make. Your Uncle Ben can even help you out with the Basmati rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Crock pot Chicken Tikka Masala is a perfect change of pace if you, like me, often find yourself making the same old meatloaf all the time. Exotic yet super easy, it won’t leave you breaking a sweat in the kitchen… which suits me just fine. Now please excuse me while I get back to my piano playing and book reading.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 6

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 C plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Garam Masala*
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 to 3 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your heat preference**
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Several turns of fresh ground black pepper, or about 3/4 tsp if you don’t have a grinder
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 1 C heavy cream (you could use half & half if you prefer)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Chopped cilantro (more authentic, but yuck) OR parsley (my preference) for garnish

*Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend. I bought mine at Whole Foods, but I have also found it at the regular grocery store (McCormick makes it) and even at Target (Archer Farms brand).

**I used 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and my Chicken Tikka Masala ended up quite spicy. I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon. Use 2 or more teaspoons only if you’re daring and a spice-lover. And if you’re cooking for kids, use 1/2 a teaspoon or none at all.

Combine first 14 ingredients (chicken through black pepper) in the crock pot, stirring thoroughly. Add bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (or split the difference – high for 2 hours, then low for 4 hours).

With about an hour to go till serving time, whisk together cream and cornstarch. Pour into crock pot mixture and stir. Continue to cook for about another hour.

Serve over Basmati rice, and garnish with cilantro or parsley.



  • Comment by Cheryl Pennebaker Leidecker — February 7, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Hannah, This looks so good. Love your writing, all of it!!! You are truly a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing these recipes. Want to try the famous sausage breakfast casserole. I know your grandmother, Carolyn, made that for us once when we were at her house. love, cheryl

  • Comment by dean — February 7, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    this looks delish! and I love knowing that I have a sister in cilantro-hating 😉

  • Comment by Shae — February 7, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

    Hannah, you were a good swimmer and went on to get your life-guarding certification. And in soccer, you scored a goal in the very last game of the season of the Rockettes! You can do it all – just some things – reading, writing, art, cooking – you do better! xxo

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