Babs's Aunty Sara from his father's side of the family is better known in India as an acclaimed Keralan writer and educator. Since I can't read Kanada (the language she writes in) I know her better for another arena of Keralan art: her Kerala fried chicken -- crispy and spicy on the outside, oh-so-juicy on the inside without being pink (a hazard when you're trying to not overfry your chicken).
Her little trick -- she kindly shared with me over lunch this past December -- is to steam the chicken a little before frying. I've read in Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life that Jamie Oliver does something similar with his BBQs; slowcooking his meats before placing on the grill for the finishing char, therefore scoring a win-win on succulence and smokiness.
Here's the Kerala fried chicken recipe as relayed by Aunty Sara. There was -- as often the case in these Indian recipe cajoling sessions -- little mention of measurements, so this writeup will need to be refined when I try this recipe out in my own kitchen. For the more sophisticated and/or adventurous cooks among you who want to go ahead and try this, it'd be great to hear from you how you made out with your own proportions.
- Joint and chop 1 chicken, preferably organic and/or free range
- Coat the chicken pieces in a mixture of chili powder, tumeric and salt
- Steam the coated chicken pieces for 5 minutes (Boil a three-finger thick later of water in a large pot, place a steaming rack in the pot, then place the chicken pieces on a tray and place the tray in the large pot, and cover)
- Remove the partially-steamed chicken pieces from the pot
- Coat the partially-steamed chicken pieces in a mixture of chili powder, ginger powder, garlic powder, cornstarch and salt
- Mix 1 egg into a bowl of plain yoghurt
- Coat the chicken in the egg-yoghurt mixture and leave to bind for 20 minutes
- Fill a medium-sized pot with frying oil (in Kerala this will invariably be coconut oil; use vegetable or sunflower oil otherwise) and heat until the oil starts to bubble
- Fry the chicken pieces (just a few at a time so as not to lower the temperature of the oil drastically) for ~ 10 minutes, until the chicken is a lovely golden brown
- Set fried chicken on a plate lined with paper napkins to soak up excess oil
- Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped coriander