Crunchy and tender at the same time? This recipe delivers both in abundance, says LYNN BAIN.

There is a lot going on with these chicken thigh cutlets.

The point of difference is that the spices, cooking technique and cooking time have been carefully chosen in order to provide a textural ‘crunch’ to the bite when eating the cutlets.

In this case, this relates to semi-ground Indian spices.

This crunch is perfectly juxtaposed to the juicy, tender, chicken thighs (which are my favourite cut of chicken for ‘knife and fork’ cuisine).

The bone-in, skin-on, chicken thigh cutlets are my choice for this recipe because chicken skin marries so well with the crunchy concept. And thigh meat is best for this recipe because of its juiciness.

Handy hint one: You can do this recipe finger food-style if you use either drumsticks or wings instead of thighs.

Handy hint two: The spices can be ground in an electric grinder (and then mixed with a ‘wet’ binder such as an oil or even peanut butter). This gives a finer paste rather than a crunchy coating.

Handy hint three: Feel free to alter the quantity of spices used to suit your taste buds and heat palate. The salt that is used in the ingredients acts as an abrasive to help with the spice grinding. If you are using an electric spice grinder, the salt can be omitted.

Handy hint four: All the spoon measurements are level.



2-3 chicken thigh cutlets

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp fenugreek seeds

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 dried red chilli (optional)

pinch of salt


Step 1

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (170°C fan forced). In a mortar, add the garam masala, fenugreek seeds, yellow mustard seeds, coriander, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and a dried chilli (optional).

Step 2

Step 2: Now add the salt to the spices in the mortar.

Step 3

Step 3: Using the pestle, vigorously grind the spices until they are of a dry and crunchy consistency with most of the seeds in the mixture broken up to release their aromas and flavours.

Step 4

Step 4: Place the chicken thighs, skin-side up, in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish. Pour the oil over the chicken thighs. Rub to evenly distribute the oil over the skin of the chicken.

Step 5

Step 5: Place the ground-up spice mixture into a container that makes sprinkling the spices easy. Trust me, trying to sprinkle spices from a very heavy mortar is no easy task. Sprinkle the ground up spices evenly and generously over the top of the oiled chicken thighs.

Step 6

Step 6: Gently rub the spice mixture across the skin side of the thigh, and into all the nooks and crannies in the chicken.

Step 7

Step 7: Place the coated chicken thighs into the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of your thighs; I mean the chicken thighs, not yours).

Step 8

Step 8: Serve the crunchy chicken thighs with some steamed basmati rice ( I like to add a squeeze of lime to mine as well as a little shaved coconut to add a wonderful flavour dimension to the rice).