I found this recipe for "spicy crusted chicken" in an old Indian cookbook I picked up at the Five Colleges booksale last spring. The whole book seemed to be basically variations on a theme: brown some onions! Add these five or six spices! Add some meat! Serve with rice and or bread! Which, don't get me wrong - I love me some curry (and some rice), but a) I already know how to make curry and b) I try not to eat too much rice. This recipe caught my eye, though. It looked almost like Indian spiced Shake-n-Bake in the picture. The coating looked crunchy, and the ingredient list was totally Paleo-friendly aside from the yogurt it called for. And honestly, if I'm going to make concessions, yogurt is a very fair thing to make them for.
First thing the recipe has you do is brown an onion in 2/3 cup of oil. That's...a lot of oil. Especially for just one onion. Then you toast some ground almonds and unsweetened coconut in a hot pan. That made the most epic and mouth-watering smell imaginable! Then you take some yogurt and add garam masala and some salt to it, add the toasted almond and coconut, add the sauteed onions and give a good mix.
Now - I did something fairly wrong here. I used a good stiff Greek yogurt (Fage 2%) because that's what I had in stock...but I think I would have better results with a non-strained yogurt. My spice crust mixture basically came out the consistency of Play-Doh. The recipe was all "pour this fragrant mixture of loveliness over the skinned chicken!" and I was like "Ain't no pouring this, Sandeep." I schmeared the stuff onto the chicken instead. I molded it. I...may have made a couple into vaguely X-rated shapes. Anyway - I got it all on eventually and baked the chicken in a 325 degree oven for about 35 minutes. The chicken was cooked through but not crispy at all at that point, so I cranked the oven up to 475 and let it sizzle for 10 more minutes. The topping was starting to get a little crispy at that point, but I think it was just too thick and wet to really get crunchy. It still tasted REALLY good, though.
Next time i clearly need to use a thinner yogurt. Also, I'm going to marinate the chicken in the yogurt and spice mixture for a while, then roll it in the toasted coconut / almond mixture right before cooking. I think that will not only infuse the chicken with more spice flavor, but will also make the coating more crunchy. Definitely going to cut waaaaay down on the oil I cook the onion in because that was just silly. I might even skip the oil and just cook it in ghee to add another layer of flavor. Finally, I think I'll add more garam masala than the 1.5 tsp the recipe called for, because it just wasn't aggressive enough for my tastes. It was kind of like "indian" instead of "INDIAN!!", if you see what I mean.
Even with all the clunky parts and mistakes, it was still really damn tasty, though.
|Tastes like chicken!|