Between the two of us Roshan is the one who experiments a lot with recipes giving them a twist of his own very often. I am the one who takes the least number of risks and I usually like to stick to recipes without modifying them too much - maybe this has come from the habit of maintaining accuracy for the sake of the blog, so everything is measured before using. Notes are made parallely so that what goes on the blog is an accurate recipe that is meant to yield results similar to what I received. This habit has become such an integral part of me that even while cooking the most mundane/everyday fare I tend to use measuring cups and spoons - yeah, I am that crazy. It drives Roshan crazy too if he catches me carefully measuring out ingredients. Anyway, that's the way I am I guess. Everyone has their own quirks and this is mine :-)
Coming to today's recipe, this is one of those rare gems that I can proudly display as my own creation. Last year after we moved to Dubai and were staying at my bro's I set to work one day with a batch of chicken thighs. Since I was obsessed with working with a large oven - something that I didn't have back in Mumbai I decided to bake or grill them for dinner. I started marinating them without a clear idea as to what I was going to make. On our recent trip to the supermarket Roshan and I had found this bottle of Cajun spices (pronounced as 'kay-juhn' (jun as in run) which perked our interest. I reached out for that bottle and sprinkled a bit of it and then a bit of soy sauce and oyster sauce and the rest of the ingredients were added as per my Indian, very Mangalorean sensibilities - I like my chicken to be nice and flavourful and spicy too. So in went the green chillies, coriander, ginger and garlic.
After a few hours of marination off it went into the oven. What came out of it was finger lickin' good! My brother's family and we went beserk over it as everyone was starved too. It tasted awesome with some roasted potatoes, french beans & mushrooms which I had lightly sautéed and thrown in the roasting pan along with the chicken. Over the next few months I made it several times, modifying the recipe as I went. The recipe may seem like a lengthy one but it is actually very simple and easy if you have all the ingredients required. You can skip the mustard sauce if you don't have it and add any other ingredient of your choice if you feel that it will enhance the taste. I would say that this recipe qualifies as a fusion food as it has ingredients that are native to different parts of the world. While Cajun spices are part of the Cajun cuisine that is native to Louisiana & Mississippi, USA, Soy sauce is an oriental condiment. These form the predominant flavours in this recipe.
This is a perfect recipe for a party too as you can marinate the chicken ahead of time and grill/bake it when you are ready to serve. Do give it a try and let me know how you like it!
Cajun & Soy Chicken
Prep time: 10-15 mins (chicken at room temp) | Marinating time: 2 - 6 hrs or overnight | Baking time: 22-25 mins | Serves 4
For the marinade:
- 1 kg chicken thighs with skin * see notes
- oil for basting
- 2 teaspoons cajun spice mix * see notes
- 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs (oregano, rosemary)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 small green chilli, deseeded and minced
- 1 inch ginger grated or finely chopped
- 5 flakes of garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or coriander minced
- 3 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Wash and drain the chicken well on a colander. To remove the excess moisture pat the pieces with an absorbent kitchen tissue or clean ea towel. Keep aside
2. In a marinating bowl add and mix all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the marinade
'. Add the chicken pieces - if you wish you can add light cuts over the pieces so that it pulls the marinade well. 3. Marinate all the pieces well and cover the bowl with a cling film/plastic wrap and keep aside preferably in the fridge for 2-6 hours - longer the better.
4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place a grill rack over a roasting tray (the tray helps collect the juices that drip from the chicken).
5. Place the marinated chicken with the skin side up over the grill rack and bake it for 12 minutes. Then remove the tray out and flip the pieces so that they cook on the other side for 8 minutes.
6. Now change the oven setting to 'grill/broil' mode and flip the chicken back with the skin side facing up. Grill for 2-3 minutes so that the colour changes to a deep golden and you get that grilled look.
7. Remove from the oven, garnish with chopped coriander if required and serve hot with mashed potatoes or plain white rice or sauteed/oven roasted potato wedges/french beans/mushrooms and peppers.
1. I used chicken thighs that had the thigh portion only, without the leg part. This way you get more pieces but you can use the entire thigh-leg cuts too. Use thighs with skin as the skin helps the chicken turn out more juicy and flavourful.
2. Cajun spice mix is available in most leading supermarkets or well stocked gourmet shops. If it is not available where you live you can try making this dish with any spice blend like BBQ spice or Peri Peri spice blends. Go creative and use Tandoori masala too if you like! - the taste will be different of course but you needn't miss out on the fun!
4. If you don't have sweet soy sauce just add honey and increase the amount of regular soy sauce slightly. Skip the oyster sauce if you don't have it but don't make the mistake of substituting it with fish sauce at any cost!