Friday, January 5, 2018

Chennai Chicken Wings – A Football Snack from the Land of Cricket

I used to do a new chicken wing video every year before the Super Bowl, but that yearly ritual stopped when I sort of ran out of things to do with them. Being from Western New York State, where chicken wings are as much a religion, as they are a snack, I didn’t want these posts to become gratuitous and contrived.

However, this year I was inspired to reestablish the tradition after enjoying an appetizer called “Chennai Chicken,” served at Dosa, which is one of my favorite Indian restaurants in San Francisco. Their version features thin strips of breast coasted with a ton of spice, and deep-fried to a gorgeous brick red.  

It’s one of those dishes you can’t stop eating, no matter how badly your mouth is burning, and I thought it would make a great approach for a batch of Buffalo wings. Since they’d never published the recipe, I did a lot of guessing here, but think I got pretty close. One of the key ingredients is an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which isn’t too hard to find, but if you can’t, here’s a link to a recipe for making your own.

As usual, feel free to alter the spice amounts as you see fit, but as I said in the video, do not skip the rice vinegar sauce. It really makes the dish. I’m not sure if these wings are too exotic for your Super Bowl party, or if your guests are not exotic enough for them, but I really hope you give them a try anyway. Enjoy!

4 pounds split chicken wings
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon rice flour
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons kosher salt

For the ginger oil:
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon julienned or grated ginger root
2 teaspoons sambal (spicy ground chili sauce)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes


Kevin Leblanc said...

Thanks for inspiring me to cook at home on my day, Chef John. I just got in from the grocery store, can't wait to see how these turn out.

Unknown said...

Thanks chef! But, yes, I'm going to be that guy: can we substitute regular flour for the rice flour? I'm pro-gluten.

Kevin Leblanc said...

Thanks for inspiring me to cook on my day off! I just popped the wings in the oven, can't wait to see how these turn out.

Sakura Blossom95 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

Genetic testing has shown that I carry a dominant gene for cayenne intolerance and I do believe that you are trying to kill me with that level of cayenne! Lordy, I can't even tolerate normal Buffalo wings. Thank you very much. I love you dearly; but no. Just no.

Eric Pesik said...

If you wanted to make this with breast strips as at Dosa, what would you need to change? Cooking time?

Bill said...

> 2 tablespoon cornstarch
> 2 tablespoon rice flour

Supposing I don't have rice flour (and don't care about being "gluten-free"), could I go with wheat flour?
Or more corn starch?

A. said...

Would the oven fried wing method work using boneless chicken breast chunks, and if so would you change the cooking temp or time to accommodate? I'm getting married in 3 months, hence the need to watch my waste-line, BUT I really want to try these.

Claire Adams said...

Thanks for the technique! The wings turned out slide-off-the-bone perfect. I'm so glad you posted this today, since I was broke and hungry.

I had to use a different spice blend since I'm out of garam masala. It's kind of basic, but it worked out really well:

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp paprika
1-2 tsp coriander powder
1-2 tsp white pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, cornstarch, etc as in Chef John's recipe.

Dinner for two under $5 is always a win.

Tucker family Vlogs Adventures and Daily Vlogs said...

What do you serve with these?

SouthernVet said...

Looks good for the Super Bowl. Thanks

Jeff Sand said...

Made these for dinner tonigh. Followed the recpie to the letter. Wonderful! They took the top of my head off. It's -6 here in Michigan and I am projectile sweating. I was questioning as to make the vinegar sauce. It put this recpie over the top. Thank you and keep doing what you are doing.

Ben Beesley said...

So if I wanted to make these vegetarian for the wife, I was thinking cauliflower. What do you think? Any other modifications I'd need to make to the recipe to still get that crisp?

cathal o connor said...

Hi Chef John, love your work!! just wondering if I can substitute plain/bread flour for the rice flour, or will that reduce the crispiness of the #forkdontlie test

me me said...

Hi Chef John, I commented on a post a few weeks ago talking about Lea and Perrins sauce. Further to that, I wonder if you are aware of a BBC Radio 4 programme called "the Kitchen Cabinet"? This weeks edition contains a discussion which I am certain you will find interesting and possibly enlightening. Check out the BBC Iplayer and look for the latest episode from Worcester. Enjoy.

Kacy Helwick said...

My husband made this tonight, it was great! My only complaint is that the oven temp (450F) wasn’t anywhere on this post, so I had to skip through the video to find it as he had raw chicken on his hands.

Sean Williams said...

Made this for the closers at the Outback Steakhouse in Plymouth (best outback ever!). Not too bad. Lil inconsistent in my prep (seasoned the wings at 8:30am and cooked them after a brutal 13 hour shift) so some of them came out great and some only so-so. Will put this on my list of recipes to try again. Fresh out of the oven. All plated up.

Timothy Scanlan said...

Ridiculously good. Made them last night and they were a huge hit. I had no idea baked wings could come out so crisp.

Eric Tokay said...

Does it have to be rice flour? Will purpose result in the same effect?

ShellyIsAFrog said...

Dearest Chef John, How do I love thee? Let me count the recipes!!! You have given me inspiration and entertainment and made recipes feel accessible. I am a fan. Thank you for what you do and God bless!!

André Dijkstra said...

From your fans from the Netherlands!

After viewing almost ALL your videos over the past year, we finally got the courage to recreate some of your recipes. And this is probably the greatest oven-crispy-chickenwing recipe we've ever tried. Our oven wasn't big enough for the whole thing so we had to do it in batches, which was great because then we could eat twice!

We'll be sure to give the other recipes a try as well!

Cheers for now,
André and Hai

Mark Taylor said...

My directions for 2 pounds of wings

1.Pre-heat oven to 450°.
2.Dry wings with paper towels and toss in half the ginger oil then toss in just enough seasoning to coat and save the rest for next time.
3.Place wings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
4.Turn wings over and bake for another 15-20 or until 165°.
5.Remove wings from oven flip over on sheet pan and let rest for 3 minutes.
6.Toss wings in sauce or serve with sauce on the side.

Matthew Silver said...

Made these this evening and Chef John is understating how hot these really our. My lips feel like they are melting off my face. But he was right that I couldn't stop eating them.

thebigswami said...

Thanks for the recipe Chef John. Loved the Chennai Wings. It's the sauce which takes it to another level.
Pray, When are you going to post a recipe for Lamb Biryani?

Sullivan's Papa said...

white rice flour or brown rice flour, please. Or does it matter?
ps: thanks to your terrific videos, etc I'm becoming known as Chef Richard!
Giving up, for the time being I guess, being a woodworker I needed something to make; cooking and baking has filled that void quite well. Thank You Chef John!!!

rancholyn said...

I made these for my dinner last night...DELICIOUS! I cut down on some of the heat since I'm a wimp. Still spicy but most flavorful. Having leftovers tonight. Tonight I'll make some raita on the side... Thanks, I Love Indian cuisine!

Rohit Parmar-Mistry said...

Love the videos chef John. Was just wondering whether you could marinade the chicken wings for say a day in the coating to try and get the flavour to penetrate?

BJD said...

Hi Chef John,

These were lovely, and you are quite correct about the sauce bringing everything together.

Just so you know; I have never cooked chicken wings before however, I have now cooked them three times in the last two weeks because of this recipe and the Honey Sriracha version!
My GP would like a word...

Neil said...

Don't forget to add this to your wing collection post:
Note - my wife and I make a LOT of your dishes. Well done and thank you

Vincent Britton said...

Looks delicious, can anything be used instead of cornstarch for those looking for low carb options?

Vincent Britton said...

Can anything be used instead of corn starch for those looking for low carb options?

Indy O said...

We loved these! They were absolutely amazing.
Cooking time however seemed a bit off, they were a little dry, next time I think 200c for 20 minutes would be enough. 30+ minutes is just to long for wings and 230c to high. Other than that though, among the best tasting wings we have ever made at home!

boobee said...

Our family love this receipt. Made it at least 5 times already with wings. And now we are onto drums. So good

Spinni said...

I want to give this a try. One question though: Does it have to be rice flour or can I use corn starch or something else?

Amy Cook said...

These wings are absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for this recipe. We particularly like the dipping sauce. I can't wait to try these out on one of my friends who is known for his wings. One of our summer traditions to set a platter of wings, an assortment of hot sauces, dipping sauces and a bucket of ice cold beer on the swim platform of a boat and eat them while floating on tubes in the river. Toss the bones to the crabs, drink a few cold beers and create memories. This will be a wonderful surprise! Thanks again.

Gregory Saffar said...

Looks great but disappointed none of the questions have been answered! Whats the point of the blog?

Cory Benard said...

Looks good chef! If I wanted to deep fry for time purposes, would I do anything different as far as coating or seasoning the chicken? Im afraid the seasoning would fall off in the deep fryer

Jen said...

I made these yesterday for the big football game--they were delicious! We like spicy in our house, especially Korean flavors, and this was right up there! My kids have disliked cayenne in the past so I cut that in half just in case, but the Korean chili flakes I used made up for it oh so well! And yes, the sauce is a MUST! I'm going to try the extra sauce as a salad dressing today. :) As for substitutes, my unprofessional opinion is wheat flour would work fine. And there is so little flour coating on them that my low carb husband REQUESTED that I make these! :) Good thing I bought more wings so we can have this dish again! Thanks Chef John!

Spinni said...

I made this for dinner a few days ago and it was good (you really need the vinegar dipping sauce!). However, next time I would tweak the recipe quite a bit.

1. Amount of spice mixture: I used 4 pounds of chicken wings and could have easily coated twice that amount with the spice mixture. I don't understand why it needs that much "filler" (starch, rice flour). Next time I would leave out the starch and rice flour and go back to the backing powder method as described by Chef John and Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats.

2. Amount of chili powder: 4 tsp of cayenne are only managable if it is cut with an equal amount of paprika. But, I suggest to swap most of the cayenne for a better tasting and less hot chili powder (cayenne is awesome for heat but not for taste in my opinion). My choice would be Kashmir Chili mixed with some cayenne (maybe 3:1) and some paprika (maybe the same amount as cayenne).

3. Amount of tumeric: I like tumeric but too much leaves a strange aftertaste I do not enjoy. I would use maybe half the amount of tumeric next time.

4. Ginger oil: The ginger does not have enough time to infuse the oil. Next time I will finelly chop the ginger, give it a good pounding in my mortar and let it infuse the oil overnight. (that means some planning ahead but I have to do that anyway when making chicken wings because they are not always available where I live).

5. Dipping sauce: The sauce also needs more time to let the flavors mix. Next time I will it leave overnight in the fridge.

Suzanne said...

WOW! So I tried your trick to make oven fried crispy wings and they came out so perfect! I have a fry-daddy and the batch I made in it was not even as crisp and perfect as the ones in your recipe. Thank you soooooo much!!!!!!!!

Sullivan's Papa said...

Hello Chef John,
This Easter, we traveled to Iowa and I brought this dish for my niece who loves hot spicy foods; it went over quite well. She took leftovers home with her! Other guests tried the wings, while admitting it was "hot" it wasn't THAT hot! I made this according to
Anyway, my niece enjoyed them and that was my goal, Thank You, Chef John!

Thomas Bernecky said...

cornstarch or baking powder Chef?

Philip Carneol said...

These look great!!! how would i go about frying the wings instead of baking. would i fry them plain and then make a paste/sauce from the dry ingredients and toss similar to buffalo style? if so, what "wet ingredient" would i mix the dry with to make a sauce or paste?

thanks so much

Thomas Bernecky said...

Ok, Does our beloved chef John prefer these in the wet or dry method?

Thomas Bernecky said...

You are, after all, the Buddy Guy of your Chennai, so strike the right chord?

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