Monday, August 11, 2014

Thai turmeric roasted chicken with lime-flavored Jasmine rice

Being with people you love, people you don’t get to see often because you live in different countries, having them live with you for a while, go on holidays together, enjoy them to the fullest, sharing food with them, food you have cooked for them, food they crave, seeing their faces light up with pleasure from what they are savoring, is a blessing.

They have brought with them from Greece ingredients and foods we have missed immensely, like pastourma, soutzouki, green olives, loukanika, cheese and tarama. I have been happily cooking in my hot little expat kitchen for all of us, making the best out of the ingredients, feeding our hungry bellies.

We had a small break from Greek food, however, to savor a differently spiced chicken dish. A Thai chicken dish flavored with turmeric that has become one of my favorites ever since I discovered it a little while ago.

Even though Thai cuisine is very complex, this dish is quite simple with unique and beautiful flavors. With heat coming from the white pepper and spiciness from the coriander seeds, sweetness from the palm sugar and saltiness from the nam pla (Thai fish sauce), freshness from the floral and aromatic coriander, with the crispy skin and the juicy flesh of the marinated and roasted chicken accompanied by a fresh, sticky, lime-flavored jasmine rice. The turmeric, apart from rendering a wonderful golden-yellow hue to the chicken, also adds a warm, zesty and earthy flavor that balances the sweet notes of the dish.

It’s effortless to make and utterly delicious, firing up your taste buds with every bite; ideal summer cooking.

Thai turmeric-marinated roasted chicken drumsticks
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen

You can use this marinade to flavor any other chicken piece. I have used it for breasts (skin on) and whole legs. I wouldn’t suggest you use it with skinless chicken as the flavor that will permeate its flesh will be too intense.

Yield: 4 servings


for the marinade
1½ tsp whole white peppercorns (or ground white pepper)
1½ tsp whole coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ heaped Tbsp palm sugar (or soft dark brown sugar)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Tbsp fresh coriander stalks (or parsley stalks if you dislike fresh coriander), roughly chopped
2 Tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1½ Tbsp oyster sauce

8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (about 1 kg in total)

2 limes, for serving

Special equipment: mortar and pestle or spice grinder, small food processor, plastic wrap, large roasting tray, pastry brush


for the marinade
If you’re using whole white pepper and/or coriander seeds, grind them using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Add ground white pepper, ground coriander, turmeric, palm sugar, garlic, fresh coriander stalks, fish sauce and oyster sauce in the food processor and process until you have a somewhat smooth mixture.

In a large bowl, add the chicken drumsticks and pour the marinade over them. Mix well using your hands, taking care to rub it on and under the skin well.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or, alternatively, place the chicken pieces with the marinade in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours. If you choose to marinate the chicken for more than 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius.
Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer and pour the marinade on top.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, until it takes on a golden brown color and the skin becomes crispy and caramelized. Also, if you insert a knife or skewer on the thickest part of the chicken pieces, the juices should run clear and not be reddish in color. Don't cook for longer because the chicken will dry out and become tough.

Take it out of the oven and using a pastry brush, take the juices from the pan and glaze the drumsticks with it. Make sure to stir the juices before glazing in order to mix all the caramelized bits with the more liquid sauce.

Serve with lime, squeezing it on top of each drumstick, and with some fresh coriander leaves. Pair with lime-flavored Jasmine rice (recipe below).

Lime-flavored Jasmine rice

It’s sticky and moist, intensely aromatic and nutty. In a nutshell, the best rice for the above Thai chicken.
I always make this rice following the 1:1¼ method of measuring. Which means that for every 1 cup of rice, I add 1¼ cup water. It works perfectly each time for me.

Yield: 4 servings

1 cup Jasmine rice
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1¼ cup boiling water
½ tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime, grated

Special equipment: sieve, rasp grater

Add the rice to a sieve and place it under cool running water. Rinse the rice until the water runs clean. Leave to dry for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, add the sunflower oil and heat over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the rice and toast, stirring constantly with a spoon or spatula for 1 minute. Add the boiling water, salt and ¾ of the lime zest and stir well. Bring to the boil and turn heat down to low. Put on the lid and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for a further 8 minutes. At this point, the rice should be cooked, tender and sticky. Using a fork, fluff up the rice, put the lid on and leave it to stand for 5-7 minutes, as it will continue to steam.

Serve immediately, sprinkling on top the rest of the lime zest, along with the Thai chicken.


  1. You had me at turmeric ! I use it as much as possible but have never had nor cooked Thai. I have to get the fish sauce and oyster sauce, but will make this ASAP. Thank you for sharing.

    AND, the photos are especially wonderful!

    1. Thanks Liz :) I love turmeric too and in this dish it's particularly flavorful. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. I haven't had a drumstick in ages, but these look SO flavorful and basically finger-licking good!!


  3. What a beautiful dish! Like Liz, I also love turmeric - it's gives such wonderfully rich flavor and color. Not to mention the health benefits! Great recipe!

  4. Looks delicious as always Magda! Love your description of this and beautiful pictures. Am a huge Thai food fan! Hope you have a wonderful time with your visitors!! Happy summer!! XxxX

  5. What fantastic looking chicken photos. I think these are the prettiest and most juicy looking pieces of chicken I have ever seen and they are, no doubt, delicious.

  6. Just beautiful, Magda! The photos are amazing, as ever. ~ David

  7. This roast chicken looks amazing. I can only imagine how good it must have tasted!

    1. Thanks Thalia. It's delicious and a staple in my house :)