I’m writing to you from the mundane blue and white of my office, where I have taken a break from Excel worksheets to think about food.
This may be the coffee talking, but is there nothing you can’t do with chicken?
The photo above makes me want to plunge my face into the wok. I don’t want to think about what the hot oil might do to my face. The truth is that I’ve been trying to lose weight. Considering the fact that I’m the last person on earth to conform to a routine life of carefully selected food and regular sessions of well-rounded exercising, this might be the toughest mission I have ever embarked upon.
I will let you know how it all goes, as soon as I stop eating this fried chicken.
We have a history with chicken, you and I. We’ve feasted on that spice-roasted chicken and picked pomegranate seeds off our teeth. We’ve entertained the masses with drumsticks laced with marmalade. We’ve felt lonely and awed by chilli-crusted goodness.
Only on rare occasions do I pull out my wok and semi-deep fry something. I’ve always been a shallow-fryer, a rooter for optimal use of oil. I would cringe five times before agreeing to confit anything. I don’t actually know where or when I’d acquired this peculiar turn-my-nose-up-at-oil characteristic. But I do think, it has something do with consuming soggy, oily food at ungodly hours and ending up sick as a result – something I did on a regular basis when in Uni.
This chicken is more than just simple. It’s simple AF.
You take pieces of the bird, let them wallow in a laughably easy marinade, coat them in cornflour and fry. In two inches of oil.
Garlic and Pepper Fried Chicken
There’s a curious method my grandmother used to follow when she deep-fried food in a wok, where she would let the oil smoke for a few seconds and then turn the heat off. Once she’d fan away the smoke from the surface of the hot, hot oil, she’d turn the heat up again and start frying, which resulted in crunchy exteriors and soft and perfectly-cooked interiors. I use the same method. Be careful while fanning, though.
1 kilo of chicken
2 teaspoons of ginger paste
1 tablespoon of garlic paste
Half a cup of plain yogurt
Salt, to taste
Oil, to fry (not olive oil, but sunflower or rapeseed, something colorless and flavourless)
Cornflour, enough to coat the chicken pieces (the quantity varies, I need slightly more than a cup, you may require more)
2 tablespoons of dried garlic powder
1 tablespoon of cracked white pepper
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Wedges of lemons or limes, to garnish
Make a marinade out of the ginger, garlic, yogurt and salt, in a large bowl. Coat the chicken pieces well in the marinade. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours. Overnight, would be better.
Mix the cornflour with garlic powder and white pepper and spread out the dry mix on a tray in a think layer.
Pick each piece out of the marinade and lightly shake off the excess liquid. Roll the pieces around in the dry mix till there’s an even coating of cornflour on each of them.
Pour 2-3 inches of oil in a wok or a deep-bottomed pan and heat on high till the top of the oil starts smoking. Turn the heat off completely. Fan away the smoke from the surface of the oil and turn the heat back on. Start frying the chicken immediately, in batched of 3 or 4 pieces. Make sure you don’t crowd the pieces. They’ll start braising if you do.
Depending on the heat, which is best kept at medium-high, your chicken is cooked when the outside is golden-brown and the inside is white. Take the largest piece in the batch and pierce it at its thickest part. It’s cooked if the juices run clear.
Regulate the heat based on how quick it’s frying the chicken or if the pieces start looking a little charry. If you have to fry more than 10-12 pieces of chicken, you might need to strain the oil, get rid of the floating bits of burnt cornflour and replenish it again.
Serve with a smattering of cracked black pepper, a generous squeeze of lime or lemon juice or maybe even a dip of your choice!