This vegan-friendly Slow Cooker Vegetable Masala is a delicious and easy Indian curry that needs 5 minutes of prep work, and 4 – 8 hours to slowly cook through.
A few months back, the husband’s family started gushing about a slow cooker Chicken Tikka Masala recipe they’d been making. I won’t lie– I was suspicious. Using a slow cooker seemed so… untraditional for a curry. And then, I tasted the sauce. I was sold. Hook, line, and sinker– sold. It was AMAZING, and I needed it in my life. (But– I wanted it with veggies!)
This Slow Cooker Vegetable Masala is EASY– it has minimal prep work, and only a few steps to follow at the end. My favorite part about this curry, and the reason I’ve been obsessed with it for the last few weeks, is that allowing the curry to cook slowly over several hours gives the spices time to come alive. This slowly-cooked curry actually tastes better than the same recipe cooked on the stove top!
Most of the ingredients used in this Slow Cooker Vegetable Masala should be easy to find. The only thing that you might have trouble finding is garam masala. Garam masala is an Indian spice mixture. If you’ve got a Middle Eastern market, a spice store, an international market, or a Whole Foods nearby– you can find garam masala. If you don’t, you can order it online or do what I do– make your own. It’s easy to make, and the spices (cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, ground ginger, and cardamom), should be available at most grocery stores. If you decide to buy your garam masala pre-made, keep in mind that there’s no set recipe for it, so find your favorite brand and stick with it.
I also used garlic and ginger paste in this recipe, which you should be able to find near the fresh herbs in the produce section. If you can’t find them, or prefer grating and mincing your own fresh ginger and garlic– that works too!
Making SLow COoker Vegetable Masala
This recipe is pretty simple. Just put all of the ‘slow cooker’ ingredients (the veggies, the fire roasted tomatoes, and the spices) into the slow cooker basin. Stir everything together, and cook for 4 – 6 hours on high or 8 – 10* hours on low. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add the milk, cream, and turmeric.** If you want rice, start cooking it now, and then everything should be ready all at once. Serve with the rice or some naan, and enjoy this dish even more knowing that it took practically zero effort.
*Note: The longer your vegetables cook, the more likely that they will start to break apart in the sauce. Personally, I think the curry tastes best when the veggies are soft and the spices have really bloomed in the curry. If you prefer a firmer vegetable, however, stick to either 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
**Turmeric burns more easily than most spices, so add it when you add the milk, and not with the other spices.
Slow Cooker Vegetable Masala
Slow Cooker Ingredients:
- 2 12oz bags frozen vegetables OR 3 cups fresh vegetables, diced* (See Recipe Notes)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 28oz can fire roasted tomatoes OR 3-4 tomatoes diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 TB ginger paste (or substitute freshly grated ginger)
- 1 TB garlic paste (or substitute minced garlic)
- 2 TB garam masala (use pre-made, or see recipe notes**)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, according to heat preference)
- 1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper (optional, for added heat)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 cup milk OR milk substitute
- 1/2 cup heavy cream OR coconut cream
- To serve: basmati or jasmine rice and/or naan
Add all 'slow cooker ingredients' EXCEPT bay leaves into a slow cooker basin. Stir to combine. Place bay leaves on top. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours.
Remove bay leaves. Add turmeric, milk and, cream. Stir, taste, and add salt if needed. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes after milk is added. Use this time to cook the rice. Serve curry with rice.
*Note: For vegetables, use what you have on hand or veggies you prefer. My favorite ones to add are cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, and corn.
**To make Homemade Garam Masala: grind together: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp cloves, 1/3 tsp ground ginger, 2 cardamom pods. (Alternatively, use 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and ground versions of the other spices and mix together.)
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal. Optional rice or naan not included. Substitutions will alter calorie count.
Garam Masala Mixture adapted from Made in India