Crispy chicken thighs

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Do you like chicken on the bone? If so, this super easy recipe is for you. You can also find it on p.109 of dadima’s memoir cookbook. Like every other recipe in my book, this one is inspired by a dadima (grandmother). Angela used a ready made cajun spice mix in her version and it was delicious. I loved the simplicity of her recipe, and found it cute that she would make it for her four-year-old grandson and pregnant daughter-in-law, who both liked mild food. I preserved Angela’s cooking method, but recreated the marinade using a few tips from my mum. This simple dish is always a hit when I’m entertaining – especially with the meat-lovers in my family!

I do love using chicken thigh meat for my Indian cooking. Unlike chicken breast, I find that chicken thigh can withstand high-heat cooking, and still retain its moisture and juiciness. The succulence of this cut, coupled with marinating the meat in advance, and keeping the bone in, makes this a flavoursome dish. An added bonus, is that thigh meat tends to be an inexpensive cut – so it’s perfect for parties and big gatherings.

If you’re cooking for children, and they don’t like spice, omit the chilli powder altogether.

Serves 4-6


You will need: a griddle pan (or non-stick frying pan)
6 plump chicken thighs, skin-on, bone in (or boneless if you prefer)

7 tablespoons rapeseed oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
5 fat garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
Half teaspoon red chilli powder



1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl (large enough to add the thighs and wide enough for them to sit at the base).


2. Add the chicken thighs and smother in the marinade, ensuring the meat is fully coated. Place skin side down in the marinade and refrigerate overnight, or minimum 1 hour.

IMG_9115 (2)
3. When you are ready to cook, heat a griddle pan (or non-stick frying pan).
4. Sear the chicken, skin-side down, until you see the skin darken and crisp slightly. Turn over and heat the other side. Only turn once – we’re just sealing in the marinade, not cooking it through.

5. Place on a baking tray at 180°C, on the middle rack of an oven, and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Check the meat after 30 minutes. The juices and oils should have released and the skin should be nice and crispy. Remove from the oven when the meat is pierced easily with a knife and has cooked through. Use a spoon to coat the chicken with the juices from the baking tray and serve immediately.


Tastes great served on a bed of salad for a light meal, or with daal and rice.

tim green pic

Happy marinating and getting your hands dirty. Do send me any photos if you make this dish. I’d love to see.

P.S. I find that rubbing your fingernails on the inside of a lemon helps to lift off that garlic smell!


Photos by Dale Gent and final photo by Tim Green (taken from dadima’s book). 

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