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Now reading Kerala Fried Chicken and Low Country Rice Waffles with Spicy Syrup

Kerala Fried Chicken and Low Country Rice Waffles with Spicy Syrup

There is a true universality to frying a bird.

Although the American South has laid claim to fried chicken—and rightfully so—nearly every culture has a similar bird dish. There is a true universality to brining a bird to plump it, dredging it through seasoned flour, followed by deep frying. I grew up eating fried chicken in my mother’s kitchen in a South on the other side of the world. When I moved to the American South,I happily discovered many fried-chicken loving kindred spirits. Guests often assume that my fried chicken comes from my exposure to the cuisine of the American South.  It’s always fun explaining to them that it is actually part of my Keralan heritage.

I wanted to create a satisfying dish that would showcase both my Souths, and I thought the idea of Carolina low country rice waffles paired with my version of Kerala-style fried chicken would fit the bill perfectly by flipping the script on a soul food classic. What better way to marry—and consummate—these dishes than by binding them with spiced syrup? For breakfast and brunch, I favor the universal favorite, maple syrup, and for lunch and dinner, I lean toward can syrup for its deeper flavor. Turns out that this singular dish, which brought together my two Souths, put me on the map locally, nationally, and internationally.

I like to make the syrup when I set the chicken to marinating. That way everything has a bit of time to infuse with the bold flavors of Kerala before I start showing my Atlanta chops. For the lightest waffles, I let the batter sit for an hour before cooking it in a waffle iron. I also like to make sure I have given the waffle iron ample time to heat thoroughly for the crispest, most golden crust. Novice fryers will benefit from keeping a thermometer on hand to check the temperature of the oil and to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way to the bone.
This is excerpted from My Two Souths, by Asha Gomez, with Martha Hale Foose.

Kerala Fried Chicken

Makes 8 Servings
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 6 whole serrano peppers, seeded if desired
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 C)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 T + 1 t kosher salt
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
  • + Canola oil, for frying
  • 4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 2 stems fresh curry leaves, for garnish

Low Country Rice Waffles

  • 1 1/2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C white rice flour
  • 2 T packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 T baking soda
  • 6–8 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C cooked white jasmine rice
  • + Nonstick pan spray

Spicy Syrup

  • 2 T whole cumin seeds, coarsely ground
  • 2 T whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 C maple syrup or cane syrup

Preparation

Kerala Fried Chicken

Kerala Fried Chicken
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 6 whole serrano peppers, seeded if desired
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 C)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 T + 1 t kosher salt
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
  • + Canola oil, for frying
  • 4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 2 stems fresh curry leaves, for garnish
  1. In a blender, combine the buttermilk, garlic, peppers, cilantro, mint, and 2 tablespoons of the salt and puree until smooth. Place the chicken in a large container with lid, and pour the buttermilk marinade over the chicken. Toss the chicken in the marinade, making sure it is well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours and up to 24 hours.

  2. When ready to fry the chicken, fill a large cast-iron skillet with 1 inch of oil and heat gently over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

  3. While the oil is heating, remove the chicken from the marinade and gently shake off the excess marinade. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, coating thoroughly.

  4. Place the chicken in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd the pieces. Cook the chicken until it is deep golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F. Drain the chicken on the cooling rack and drizzle with the melted coconut oil.

  5. Dip the curry leaves in the hot frying oil until crisp, about 10–15 seconds. Set on the cooling rack.

Spicy Syrup

Spicy Syrup
  • 2 T whole cumin seeds, coarsely ground
  • 2 T whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 C maple syrup or cane syrup

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk the toasted spices into the syrup. Let the spices infuse the syrup for up to 24 hours at room temperature.

Low Country Waffles

Low Country Rice Waffles
  • 1 1/2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C white rice flour
  • 2 T packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 T baking soda
  • 6–8 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C cooked white jasmine rice
  • + Nonstick pan spray

Makes 8 servings

Note: use leftover rice for these crisp waffles, or cook 1/4 cup rice in 1/2 cup water to get the amount of cooked rice needed.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, rice flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the buttermilk and melted butter to the eggs and whisk well to combine.

  2. Slowly whisk the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the cooked rice and whisk just until combined. Cover the batter and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

  3. When ready to cook the waffles, heat the waffle iron and spray generously with oil. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the waffle iron, and cook until crisp and golden, about 4–5 minutes

  4. To assemble the dish, place the waffle on a plate, place the fried chicken on top of the waffle, and top with fried curry leaves; serve the syrup on the side.