Prepare to be amazed by this ridiculously simple yet utterly delectable Malaysian favorite- fried turmeric chicken (Ayam goreng kunyit).
However, I must caution you to be on guard against those sneaky fingers attempting to steal bites, as once you cook up this dish, its irresistible flavor will attract friends and foes alike, leaving your portions dwindling in no time!
1. Turmeric: An introduction to the golden spice
Turmeric, a versatile spice cherished across global cuisines, is a staple in Indian and South Asian cooking. However, its culinary applications extend far beyond curry dishes.
This vibrant spice can infuse any food with a vibrant hue and a subtle bitter note. Ground turmeric is used to season beans, rice, whole grains, soups, stews, sauces, marinades, and pickling brines. It also lends its vibrant color to breakfast scrambles, mac and cheese, and delightful cakes and desserts.
Turmeric enhances curries for a distinctive and brighter flavor profile, a fundamental ingredient in curry powder.
However, turmeric stains hands and clothing with its characteristic yellow hue. Take caution when handling it, as the stain is hard to remove. Therefore, it is advisable to wear a glove while handling it.
While fresh turmeric is readily available in Asia, it may be hard to get outside the region. In such cases, turmeric powder serves as a suitable substitute. Please check the expiration date of ground turmeric, as the outdated powder will lose its flavor.
2. How to prepare the Malaysian-style fried turmeric chicken
While the essence of Ayam Goreng Kunyit lies in its vibrant turmeric flavor and deep-fried goodness, the recipe is loosely defined. Therefore, there is flexibility to add other preferred spices. I will provide detailed instructions, explaining ingredient choices and each step.
Now, let’s dive into the intricate details of this mouthwatering recipe.
3. The ingredients for making Malaysian-style turmeric chicken
Before preparing the chicken, let’s ensure we have all the ingredients ready.
a. Use drumsticks for the best result
When it comes to fried chicken, my go-to choice is skin-on, bone-in drumsticks or drummettes. Their higher fat content ensures a juicier and more tender outcome, making them forgiving even if slightly over-fried. In contrast, chicken breasts become dry and tough when subjected to excessive frying.
I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces for deep-frying. The chicken skin act as a shield, preventing the meat from direct contact with the intense heat. As a result, the chicken will have a juicy and tender interior while achieving a delightful crispness on the outside.
Additionally, bone-in chicken pieces offer a more visually appealing presentation.
While drumsticks top my list of preferences, chicken wings are a close second.
b. Fresh turmeric versus ground turmeric
Turmeric takes center stage as the essential spice in this chicken recipe.
While fresh turmeric offers the best flavor, there are a few reasons why we sometimes choose to use ready-made ground turmeric.
Firstly, I typically require only two to three pieces of fresh turmeric to marinate every kilogram of chicken. However, local sellers at the wet market often sell larger quantities, leaving me with surplus turmeric unless I have other recipes lined up. Secondly, fresh turmeric may not be readily available in certain regions. During my recent three-month stay in New Zealand, even the largest Asian grocery store I frequent didn’t stock fresh turmeric.
So it’s perfectly alright to use ground turmeric as long as it is within its expiration date.
c. Other ingredients required for fried turmeric chicken
In addition to turmeric, my recipe incorporates a blend of curry, coriander, and chili powder. While these spices are optional, they elevate the chicken’s taste and make it more wholesome. If you prefer to omit coriander and chili powder, consider adding some light soy sauce, resulting in a distinct yet equally delicious outcome.
Another key ingredient I include is plain yogurt, which is my preferred marinade for meats. Besides imparting flavor, yogurt also helps to tenderize the chicken, making it moist and tender.
The last secret ingredient is curry leaf. Fresh curry leaves are available at certain places, but you can opt for dried ones. If you do not have curry leaves, just omit them, as it should still be enticing.
4. Steps to prepare Malaysian deep-fried turmeric chicken
This recipe is incredibly straightforward, consisting mainly of two major steps: marinating and deep-frying. Below are the steps to prepare my crispy turmeric fried chicken in detail.
a. Marinating the Chicken: A crucial step for the best result
Marinating the chicken is critical if you want the flavors to penetrate the meat thoroughly. Surprisingly, this step is often overlooked and can be the main reason for a less desirable result.
I prefer marinating the chicken overnight in the refrigerator whenever possible. However, marinating the chicken for at least half a day is the minimum requirement to achieve optimal results, even if time is limited.
The drumsticks are marinated with minced garlic, ground turmeric, salt, light soy sauce, curry powder, chili powder, ground coriander, and yogurt. It is crucial to finely mince the garlic, as this allows the chicken to absorb its flavor effectively. I recommend using a garlic press or an electric blender to achieve this.
Note: While turmeric is the main ingredient in most Malaysian turmeric fried chicken recipes, curry, and chili powder are also commonly added. However, the choice of marinade ingredients can vary among individuals based on personal preference.
b. Achieving extra crispy results: Double deep-frying the chicken
The next day, I took the chicken out of the refrigerator and allowed it to return to room temperature before deep-frying. The inner part of the chicken may not cook thoroughly while the skin has turned golden brown if it is too cold when deep-frying,
Heat oil in a pan with raised edges or use an electric deep fryer with a frying basket. The oil temperature should be around 175°C/345°F. Therefore, using an oil with a high smoking point for deep-frying is crucial. Pean or palm oil is commonly used in Malaysia, but rice bran or corn oil are suitable alternatives.
The objective is to achieve a crispy exterior while maintaining tender meat. This can be accomplished by double-deep-frying the chicken.
Firstly, deep-fry the curry leaves in the oil until they become crispy. Ensure the curry leaves are dry, as wet leaves can cause vigorous spattering. Once crispy, remove them from the oil.
Next, deep-fry the chicken pieces until they turn to light golden. The duration of this step will vary between seven to ten minutes or longer, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken. Once done, remove the chicken from the oil, allow it to drain in a colander, and wait a few minutes for the excess oil to drip away.
Lastly, return the chicken pieces to the oil and increase the temperature to 190°C/375°F. Deep-fry the chicken for a second time, for about half a minute, or until they achieve a darker golden color. Once done, remove the chicken from the oil and allow it to drain in a colander, or place it on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
Serve the turmeric chicken alongside the fried curry leaves for a delightful meal.
5. Explore More Malaysian Delicacies
If you enjoyed the Malaysian-style turmeric chicken, I have some more delightful Malaysian recipes to share.
- Rendang Tok: Hailing from Perak, Malaysia, Rendang Tok is a unique dry beef rendang. Originally crafted by royal cooks, it offers a distinct taste from the traditional beef Minang.
- Wat Tan Hor (滑旦河): This Cantonese delicacy features silky rice noodles bathed in a luscious egg gravy, a creation of the local Chinese. The combination of fried noodles and thick egg gravy sets this dish apart.
- Nasi Minyak: Treat yourself to the mouthwatering Malaysian rice dish. Infused with aromatic spices and a rich buttery flavor, it promises a delightful gastronomic experience.
- 1kg of chicken drummette
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Malaysian curry powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of plain yogurt
- 1 handful of curry leaves
- Oil for deep-frying
Marinate the chicken
- Combine the chicken pieces with all other ingredients in Ingredients A. It's advisable to wear disposable gloves to avoid stubborn turmeric stains. Using your hands, thoroughly blend the spices and seasoning into the chicken, ensuring every piece is covered.
- Transfer the chicken to a sealed bag, or place it in a covered bowl. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least half a day or overnight.
Deep-fry the chicken
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan or wok over medium-high heat.
- Deep-fry the curry, leave until crispy, remove, and drain.
- Fry the chicken at 175°C/345°F., Cook each batch for approximately 5-7 minutes until the chicken turns a light golden brown with a vibrant yellow hue and the exterior becomes crunchy.
- Once done, remove the chicken from the oil, allow it to drain in a colander, and wait a few minutes for the excess oil to drip away.
- Lastly, return the chicken pieces to the oil and increase the temperature to 190°C/375°F. Deep-fry the chicken for a second time, for about half a minute, or until they achieve a darker golden color.
- Remove the chicken from the oil and allow it to drain in a colander, or place it on a paper towel.
- Serve the turmeric chicken alongside the fried curry leaves for a delightful meal.
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Dried Curry Leaves | Aromatic and Distinctive Flavor | With All the Flavor of Fresh Leaves | Kari Patta 1.5 oz.
Colander Set - 2 Collapsible Colanders (Strainers) Set By Comfify - Includes 2 Folding Strainers Sizes 8" - 2 Quart and 9.5" - 3 Quart Red and Grey
Secura Stainless Steel Deep Fryer with Basket, 3.2 Quart
McCormick Ground Turmeric, 0.95 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 617Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 1059mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 62g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 7/20/2023