Chunky Chat Chicken DrumsticksAdd a Comment / November 15, 2014
The mission of my new cookbook, Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen, is to enliven your everyday cooking with the multifaceted flavors of fermentation. The first part of the book sets the stage with DIY recipes for your own pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt, then takes off with these foundational ferments, incorporating them into your daily recipes.
Here’s a brand new recipe you won’t find in the book, a tandoor-less version of chicken tandoori, featuring a most familiar ferment, yogurt. Our yogurt does double duty here: first it marinates the chicken to tenderness, then it’s served as a live-culture dipping sauce with the finished dish.
Although the yogurt recipe in my book is simple to accomplish, if yogurt-making isn’t on this week’s to-do list, look for a store brand with three key words on the label: contains live cultures. Favor yogurt brands with no stabilizers or gums and from a dairy that’s local to you if possible. For tastiest and most satisfying results, use whole milk yogurt and pass on the guilt; a large comprehensive study has found no relationship between the intake of saturated fats and the incidence of heart disease or stroke, validating traditional foods practices from time immemorial.
This recipe also introduces many of us to chat masala, an Indian spice blend that’s sprinkled on the drumsticks after they come out of the oven. Chat masala has a distinct salty-sour sulfur flavor coming from its most pungent ingredient, kala namak, or black salt. For some it’s an acquired taste, but once acquired becomes quite addictive, making any food, from chickpeas to fried eggs, simply a base to devour more of it. You can find chat masala in Indian groceries; there’s no direct substitute, so if you can’t find it, simply sprinkle your drumsticks with a little salt as they come out of the oven.
- Makes 8 drumsticks
- 8 pastured chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds/1 kg)
- 1 cup (240 ml) plain whole-milk yogurt, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons ground cayenne
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons tandoori masala (optional)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- Chat masala
- Lime wedges
- Fresh cilantro sprigs or leaves
- Using a sharp paring knife, make a couple of slits in the skin of each chicken drumstick (this enables the yogurt to penetrate the flesh and fully tenderize it). Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, cayenne, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, tandoori masala, and salt and stir well to blend the spices into the yogurt and coat the chicken with the marinade. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight (do not marinate longer, as overmarinated chicken can become mealy after cooking).
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the drumsticks from the marinade, shaking off extra marinade. Place the drumsticks on the baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, turning once halfway through, until cooked through and beginning to brown. Turn the oven to broil and broil the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning once halfway through, until nicely browned all over. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with chat masala, and serve immediately, with yogurt and lime wedges served alongside and some cilantro as a garnish.
- Note: Ginger-garlic paste is a backbone Indian cooking ingredient. It is readily available at Indian groceries, but making your own is fresher (and super-vibrant when it’s ginger season at Old Friends Farm down the road from me in Amherst, Massachusetts) and easy to accomplish.
- To make ginger-garlic paste, combine equal amounts ginger and garlic (use a kitchen scale if you have one) in a food processor (a mini food processor if you have one) and process into a paste, adding just a little water if needed to get things moving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month, or spoon little mounds of the paste onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper, freeze the mounds, then pop them into a freezer bag for storage; remove them and use as needed. A quick alternative to the paste is to substitute equal parts finely minced garlic and ginger.