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Masala Fried Chicken


This crispy Indian fried chicken is a twist on classic buttermilk fried chicken. Flavored with spices like garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric, this homemade fried chicken is a family favorite! 

indian fried chicken drumsticks on a yellow plate with dipping sauce

Creating This Indian Fried Chicken Recipe

Is there anything better than chicken hot out of the fryer? Believe it or not, it does get better — by spicing it up with a touch of Sukhi’s. I grew up in the South and have savored a lot of amazing fried chicken, but I do like to change it up sometimes and experiment with different flavors.

When I was thinking about making an Indian fried chicken recipe, I remembered a recipe by my friend, chef and cookbook author, Suvir Saran. I’ve made this homemade fried chicken with him several times and love that Suvir adds turmeric and garam masala, among other spices, to the brine and the batter for both color and depth of flavor.

Make a quick dipping sauce by stirring fresh lime juice and a few tablespoons of Sukhi’s Carrot or Mango Pickle into plain yogurt. Actually, any of Sukhi’s chutneys or pickles would go well, so just use your favorite one!

chicken drumsticks being fried in a skillet

Tips on How to Make Fried Chicken

Make sure the oil is hot — If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken will soak up the grease and become soggy.  But if it’s too hot, the buttermilk fried chicken will burn and not cook on the inside.  So, ideally, use a candy thermometer and heat oil to about 350°F. Keep in mind that the temperature will decrease as you add the chicken pieces, which is why you want to heat it to 350°F and fry at a temperature between 325°F to 345°F.

If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, heat oil until just starting to shimmer on the surface. When you think it’s hot enough (and before it starts to smoke), add a small piece of bread — it should bubble and rise to the surface when the oil reaches the right temperature.

Don’t overcrowd the pan — Use a heavy cast iron skillet large enough to hold several pieces of chicken at once. If you crowd the pan, the oil will spill over and/or the temperature will reduce too much and the chicken will become soggy.

Cook until internal fried chicken temperature is hot enough — You need to fry the chicken until its internal temperature reaches 175ºF to 180ºF. If you don’t have a meat thermometer to test this, you can also pierce the chicken with a fork to see if the juices are running clear (if they are, that means the chicken is done).

Sprinkle the fried chicken with salt — As soon as the chicken is out of the fryer, add a sprinkle of good sea salt flakes while it’s hot.

How to Keep Fried Chicken Warm

To keep fried chicken warm while making more batches, tent it loosely with foil or place a cooling rack/grid in a large sheet pan and heat oven to about 200°F.  Place the cooked chicken on the rack in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.  Try not to keep the Indian fried chicken in the oven too long, though, since you don’t want it to dry out.

indian fried chicken drumsticks stacked on yellow plate

More Indian Recipes to Try:

Indian Fried Chicken

This crispy Indian fried chicken is a twist on classic buttermilk fried chicken. Flavored with spices like garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric, this homemade fried chicken is a family favorite! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword fried chicken
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

For the buttermilk brine

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

For the chicken

  • 1 (3-to-4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces or the equivalent in wings, legs, etc.
  • canola or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • GARNISHES: finishing salt, such as flaky Maldon or fleur de sel; fresh lemon or lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro and plain yogurt mixed with Sukhi's Carrot or Mango Pickle.

Instructions

  1. Make brine by combining brine ingredients together in a large non-reactive bowl. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat pieces evenly. Cover or transfer chicken to a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Seal, turn chicken to coat, and refrigerate overnight or at least one hour. Bring chicken to room temp (let sit out about 20 minutes) before frying.

  2. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F.

  3. In a shallow bowl, add flour, cornstarch and remaining spices together; whisk to combine and add the chicken pieces, turn to coat in the spiced flour mixture and let rest in flour until oil is ready. Tap off excess flour from each piece and carefully add to the hot oil, being careful not to splatter or overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches, as needed. 

  4. Fry until crisp and golden on one side, about 9 to 11 minutes. If browning too quickly, reduce heat. Maintain an overall temperature of about 325°F-345°F Turn chicken, using tongs, to the other side and let cook another 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 175°F-180°F. Sprinkle, while hot out of the fryer, with a light dusting of finishing salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel.

  5. Serve with yogurt mixed with Sukhi's chutney or pickle and fresh greens; this time of year, shaved raw asparagus with a bit of lime juice and salt makes a perfect accompaniment. Any leftovers are good, cold and straight out of the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

  • Recipe adapted from American Masala by Suvir Saran.

  • If you have time, I encourage you to make the buttermilk brine and soak overnight. Otherwise, let soak at least an hour.

  • Bring chicken to room temp before cooking.

 

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