Let’s Cook! Fried Chicken Masala

November 5, 2011

As a true born-and-bred Southern Boy, Fried Chicken is (pretty much literally) in my blood… if I had to pick my death bed menu, it would certainly include fried chicken. But surprise, my favorite fried chicken (at least currently) comes from a recipe by an Indian chef (who of all things is also a vegetarian)!

I introduced you to Chef Suvir Saran when I shared his fantastic cornbread recipe a while back (again, the shock being that this Southern Boy loves the cornbread from an Indian chef!), so I urge you to go back and read (or re-read) the post on Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread, but in case you don’t, I’ll reiterate a bit about Chef Saran directly from that post:

Suvir Saran is the Michelin star rated chef-owner of Devi restaurant in Manhattan, and the author of two cookbooks: “Indian Home Cooking” and “American Masala” in which he adds Indian influences and flavors to traditional American favorites. He has also made many television appearances, including being a featured guest chef on last seasons “Next Food Network Star” on the Food Network.

Chef Suvir Saran

I first became aware of Chef Saran several years ago from an article written by the Tampa Tribune food writer Jeff Houck in which he recounted attending a food demo put on by the chef at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (and there is your Disney reference if you’re going to insist on one…). A couple of years later I was fortunate enough to get to meet Chef Saran at Epcot and in addition to being a great chef, he also seems to be a very gracious and intelligent man.

Since that original post, he has told me to please not call him Chef (even though he has appeared on Top Chef Masters), and to call him by his first name, so from now on, we’ll refer to this humble gentleman simply as Suvir…

And the thing I’ve been looking forward to most at this year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival is being able to see Suvir, and that’s saying a lot coming from me…

So without further ado, let’s make some kick-butt fowl, a recipe that caused Miss Bonnie to swoon… Let’s Cook Fried Chicken Masala!

Fried Chicken Masala

Ingredients

For the brine/marinade:

3 Cups  Buttermilk

1/4 Cup  Kosher Salt

2 Tbl  Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp  Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix, you can make your own, or find at an Indian market of course, but even McCormick has a version, so most any good-sized grocery should have available)

1 Tsp  Ground Coriander

1 Tsp  Ground Black Peppercorns

1/2 Tsp  Ground Ginger

1/2 Tsp  Paprika

1/4 Tsp  Cayenne Pepper (I usually add a bit more… big surprise, huh?)

1 Chicken (3 1/2 – 4 pounds, cut up into 8 serving pieces, or your choice of pieces – I’m a thigh man myself, so I usually use all thighs, plus maybe a few wings just for fun)

Canola Oil, for Frying

2 Cups   All-Purpose Flour (I have used Whole Wheat with nice results)

2 Tsp  Ground Coriander

2 Tsp  Garam Masala

2 Tsp  Ground Black Peppercorns

1 Tsp  Tumeric

1/2 Tsp  Kosher Salt

1/4 Tsp  Cayenne Pepper (once again, add a bit more if you like)

For the gravy (this is my own addition to the recipe, see the below for quantity notes):

2-3 Tbl  Seasoned Flour (left over from above)

Chicken Broth

Milk (regular, 2%, or even Half-and-Half or Cream, as desired)

Plain Yoghurt (regular or reduced fat, but not no-fat)

Chopped Cilantro if desired

Procedure

Make the brine by mixing the buttermilk with the spices (all the ingredients listed before the chicken)…

whisk well…

and add to the chicken pieces that you have placed into a big-ol’ zip-top bag…

stick it in the ‘fridge overnight… two days won’t hurt… just for fun turn and massage your meat every now and then… yes kids, you do have to plan ahead… do not omit the marinating time or I will hunt you down and hurt you…

When ready to cook, heat about an inch of the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet with high sides (I used my mother’s cast-iron Dutch oven) on medium-high until the oil is about 375 degrees.

For the coating add the remaining spices to the flour and mix well.

In a large shallow container, add the chicken pieces to the seasoned flour and turn to coat well. Let the chicken rest in the flour while the oil heats.

One at a time remove the pieces from the flour and shake off any excess and add to the hot oil skin side down – add as many pieces as you can without crowding – you’ll probably have to cook in two batches.

Fry until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes, then turn over and continue cooking another 6 to 8 minutes until done. If you have a favorite frying technique (some people cover the pan part-way through cooking to add a bit of steaming action to the process), feel free to use it…

Remove and drain on paper towels.

If you’re doing several batches, you may want to keep the cooked pieces in a very low (maybe 200 degrees) oven to keep warm while cooking the rest of the chicken. Like most fried chicken, this is also great cold, so don’t hesitate to make extra to have the next day, or the day after… or to send to your girlfriends mother…

Now the original recipe doesn’t include a gravy, but I hate to waste those tasty drippings, and well, I loves me some gravy, so…

Drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a couple of tablespoons. Add the flour and mix, cooking over medium heat for a bit (yes kids, we’re making a roux…) until you have a sandy semi-dry mixture – add more flour if very wet…  next you’ll add a bit of liquid until you have a bit of a wet paste… the mixture will come away from the bottom of the pan and you will essentially deglaze the pan at this time, getting up all the good browned bits from the bottom. For this step I like to use chicken broth, but you can use milk if you like (or even a dry white wine, or beer, or water if you must….).

Next add enough liquid (here I used milk, but you can use cream or more chicken broth if you prefer) to loosen up the mixture until you have a thick gravy.

Reduce the heat to very low (or even move off the heat) and stir in some plain yoghurt.

The tartness of the yoghurt fits well with the Indian-inspired seasoning… stir and add more yoghurt or milk or broth as needed to you get to the proper consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir in some chopped cilantro if desired. You may even want to squeeze a bit of lime juice over…

Now whatever you do, don’t drown the lovely crispy chicken with the gravy… serve it with a starch (rice or potatoes) on the side or dip pieces of the bird into it.

Fried Chicken Masala with Basmati Rice, Roasted Cauliflower and Gravy

And, if there was any doubt, this would be amazing with “The” cornbread

Many times over the years I’ve said I could die a Happy Man if I could ever make fried chicken as good as my Grandmother Jackson’s… this certainly isn’t the same as her’s, and the flavor palate is certainly different from her Alabama tastes, but I think my dear departed Mangraw would approve…

Grandmother Jackson

Please make this… make it for the people you love… they might just swoon…

Thank you Suvir for the recipe!

Now back to the kitchen… we’ll see you again soon!

5 Responses to “Let’s Cook! Fried Chicken Masala”

  1. Suvir Saran Says:

    Thanks Andy for this great blog post on the fried chicken from American Masala.
    The greatest honor for me is to be thought of in the same post as your Grandma Jackson from Alabama.
    Hope she approves of what you are doing in your kitchen. I am sure actually that she is very proud to watch you do what is correct, even if not as easy.
    Since most do not eat at home.
    Charlie says you should wait to try it with the biscuits from Masala Farm and you will never need rice on your plate.
    Those biscuits would certainly be to Grandma Jackson’s liking. I can assure you of that. They come from a very gifted and kind grandma from Florida.
    Now you have one more recipe to cook, to keep Bonnie swooning.
    Thanks for taking time to share the recipe, and to be so gracious as you do that.
    Best,
    Suvir

    PS: See you in a few days!

    Like

  2. sambycat Says:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like


  3. […] his food (if you are new here, please go and read Let’s Cook! Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread and Let’s Cook! Fried Chicken Masala before continuing…). And I’ve found that he his as great a person as he is a chef […]

    Like


  4. […] some other recipes from Suvir that are on the blog: Fried Chicken Masala (amazing!); Simple Roasted Cauliflower; Coconut Rice; Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread (THE […]

    Like


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