Sunday, August 09, 2009

Malabari Spicy Coconut-Fried Chicken Wings

There's no buffalo in these chicken wings. Though in India where this style of dry-fried "curry" originated, buffaloes are raised for milk to make rich, wonderful yogurt, clarified butter, and ice cream.

I was fortunate while living in Malaysia in the early 70s to experience ethnic South Indian spicy fried meats, lamb and chicken particularly, at small restaurants run by older cooks who immigrated from India during the colonial period. These regional specialties don't show up in cook books, as far as I can find.

This dish, usually made with small pieces of chicken, including skin and bones and using whole spices, I associate with Muslim cooks from the Malabar coast. Similar chicken as well as lamb treats, without the coconut but using curry leaves, were made by Hindu cooks from Tamil Nadu. The spicy treats were served at room temperature as appetizers or as side dishes in south Indian rice-based dinners.

While the original would have been made with freshly grated coconut slowly toasted on a dry pan, the dry unsweetened coconut available at natural food stores as well as at Indo-Pak groceries works in this recipe.

Malabari Spicy Coconut-Fried Chicken Wings

2 pounds chicken wing pieces, "drumettes" preferred, and no wing tips
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons canola or coconut oil
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons dry finely grated unsweetened coconut
3 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Cut wings into separate pieces, if not already done. Remove any pin feathers still present. Dice onion. Set aside until needed.

Heat large frying pan to medium-low. Add oil, then fennel seeds. Stir or shake pan until seeds begin to fry. Add cumin seeds. As soon as they fry, add coconut. Lower heat to simmer and fry, stirring until coconut just begins to turn golden.

Lower heat. Add turmeric, and stir a few seconds. Add onions, and stir and fry 10-15 seconds.

Add chicken wings and sprinkle with the salt and cayenne while turning them.

Fry over lowest heat, stirring often and turning the pieces, until raw color is gone. Cover pan and continue to fry very gently and turning occasionally, until meat is very tender. Remove lid, and fry uncovered for several more minutes.

Serve on a platter or shallow dish. These can be served warm or at room temperature.


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