Deep Fried Turkey with Kashmiri-Spiced Oil

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Vivek Surti's Deep Fried Turkey Recipe for Thanksgiving
Photo by Mark Boughton

Vivek Surti, of Tailor in Nashville, and Dave Wingo have spent the past decade preparing deep fried turkey together. It starts early, around 5:30 am, with bloody marys and a few well-seasoned birds. Over the years, Vivek’s curiosity has led him to play with different flavor profiles, from al pastor style to an Indonesian fried turkey to turkey yakitori. “That’s what makes it interesting from year to year,” he says.

While seasoning experimentation varies, Vivek always fries his bird. For this year’s variation, he says, “I wanted to keep it in the realm of India.” After seasoning heavily with salt, into the fryer it goes. He then bastes it with a Kashmiri chile oil, which goes on right before carving to give the crisped, red-tinged skin a peppery kick of flavor.

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Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 (14-16-pound) turkey
  • Kosher salt
  • Enough cooking oil to fill deep fryer
  • Kashmiri-spiced oil for serving (recipe follows)

  • Special equipment: large propane-fueled deep fryer, deep-fry thermometer, fryer basket fitted to pot

1. Place turkey inside the pot of the deep fryer. Fill with water until turkey is covered, making sure to leave a few inches of space at top of pot. Remove turkey and mark the water level. This will be the fill line for your cooking oil. Discard water and completely dry inside of pot. 

2. Pat turkey dry and season heavily with salt, inside and out. 

3. Fit pot with deep-fry thermometer and fill with oil to line. Set up propane burner outside and heat oil to 400 degrees. Turn off heat. (It is essential that you turn off the heat to avoid causing a fire.) 

4. Place turkey in a fryer basket, legs up. Using long tongs or a hook, very slowly lower fryer basket into oil. Once fryer basket lands at bottom of pot, carefully remove tongs or hook. 

5. Once oil bubbling subsides, turn propane back and return oil to  350 degrees; maintain this temperature while cooking turkey for 3 minutes per pound, plus an additional 5 minutes. Once cooked, turn propane off. (Again, this step is essential.)  

6. Using tongs or hook, very slowly lift fryer basket out of oil. Transfer turkey to a roasting pan and let sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Brush turkey with Kashmiri-spiced oil right before serving. 

Kashmiri-Spiced Oil
Makes about ½ cup

1¼ teaspoons fennel seeds
2½ teaspoons coriander seeds
1¼ teaspoons black peppercorns
2½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2½ teaspoons Kashmiri chile powder
¾ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup grapeseed oil

In a 300-degree oven, toast fennel seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, and cumin seeds until aromatic, about 10 minutes.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind spices until coarse. In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add chile powder and turmeric to oil to bloom, about 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in ground spices. Remove from heat and let cool completely. 

  • From Vivek Surti, Tailor, Nashville

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