Tandoori Fried Chicken

“…I bet you could fry this”

That’s what I said to myself late one Saturday evening in November after a supper club, looking at a batch of Tandoori marinated boneless chicken thighs that I had not-entirely-accidentally made too much of.

The fryer was still on. I tossed the chicken in a little gram flour and Indian spices. The red-brown yogurty marinade soaked up the flour. I picked it up by a corner and lowered just the tip of the battered bird into the boiling fat- watching bubbles accumulate around it before letting go and allowing it to slip beneath the roiling surface of the oil.

Once food enters the hot oil, things happen fast. Swirling currents heat the surface of the food in only a few seconds. Bubbles stream from the food, the result of water expanding to 1600x its liquid volume as it boils. The jacuzzi-like action rapidly transfers heat from the oil to the food, but the oil itself barely touches the battered surface due to the water vapour shoving it aside. Not until after the bubbles slow down will the crispy crust develop. Beneath that crust, at the interior of the meat, the chicken is steaming in its own juices.

If you prefer a more classic recipe, check out Jack’s Original Fried Chicken Recipe.

Tandoori Fried Chicken

Tandoori Marinade

  • 6 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 300ml plain Greek yogurt
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Big handful of fresh coriander including stalks, chopped
  • Generous pinch Maldon salt
  • ½ tsp red food colouring (optional, but recommended

Place the chicken in a bowl or tray and sprinkle with salt.. Blend all the other ingredients together and coat the chicken  Marinate the chicken for 6 hours or overnight.

To fry:

  • 3L neutral frying oil (eg: sunflower)
  • 100g Gram flour
  • 1tsp paprika/cayenne
  • 1tsp coriander
  • 1tsp red food colouring powder (optional, highly recommended. Try Amazon)
  • ½ tsp fine salt

Preheat deep fryer or a deep pan of oil to 190C (temperature at which a small piece of stale bread dropped into the oil will bubble vigorously and rise to the surface).

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess yogurt to drip off. Drop into the gram flour mixture and toss well so that flour coats the whole surface of the chicken.

Lower chicken into the fryer carefully, being sure not to overcrowd the fryer (do multiple batches if necessary) Fry for approx 8-10 minutes, until chicken is crispy all over and is cooked all the way through (cut into the thickest part of the meat to check there is no meat at the centre that’s still pink. Blot with paper towels and serve immediately.

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