Pickles and Tea Adventures in Asian American Cooking

Indian Spiced Buttermilk Chicken

Indian spices

The long list of herbs and spices in this recipe may seem daunting but it’s a really easy and hands-off recipe.

Of all the ingredients I buy on a regular basis, cilantro and buttermilk give me the most angst. Wanna know why? I can’t seem to use them up fast enough before the cilantro browns and the buttermilk curdles. Perhaps I should start a petition for grocery stores nationwide to sell these two items in smaller quantities. (Seriously, is it so hard to package buttermilk in pint sizes?

Until then, I had to come up with a recipe.

As I stared at leftover cilantro and buttermilk in the fridge one evening last week, I was wracking my brain wondering what to cook for dinner. “Cilantro, buttermilk, cilantro, buttermilk …” I muttered to myself. Then I had a spark. I decided to cobble together two recipes–one from BonAppetit.com and another from Monica Bhide’s delightful cookbook Modern Spice–and came up with this delicious Indian-inspired recipe.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes+ marinating time
Cook: 45 minutes

3 garlic cloves, peeled
Chubby 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons red chili flakes (or to taste)
1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried mango powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
Cooking spray
Store-bought chat masala for sprinkling

Place the chicken in a large ziptop bag.

Place the garlic, ginger and cilantro in a mini food processor and blitz into a rough paste.

Stir together the cilantro paste, buttermilk, oil, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, mango powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Pour the buttermilk marinade over the chicken, seal, and turn to coat. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight, flipping the bag when you remember so that the chicken marinates evenly.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a roasting pan with oil or cooking spray. Drain the chicken and arrange on top. Save the marinade for basting. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, turning and basting once, until a meat thermometer pierced into the largest thigh registers 165 degrees F. If you’d like to brown and crisp up the skin a little more, turn on your broiler and broil for 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with chat masala and serve with Biryani or  Cumin-scented yellow rice.


spiced buttermilk chicken

Mango powder is made from dried sour mangoes and adds a sharp tang to dishes. Chaat masala is a potpourri of spices from cumin and peppers to clove and asafetida. It’s delicious sprinkled over salads, vegeatbles and even fries! Both are available at Asian or Indian markets.

If you don’t have all the spices, you can also substitute garam masala, a curry spice blend, or any other spice blend for that matter.

Instead of buttermilk, try using runny yogurt, kefir, or cream, especially if you already have one of these ingredients in your fridge.

This recipe would be great on the grill too–opt for chicken wings or breasts!