Tuk Tuk Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Chef Sam Fore’s fried chicken is topped with zesty curry leaf salt and turmeric

When originally opening her outdoor tent-style pop-up restaurant Tuk Tuk, chef Sam Fore of Lexington knew that she not only had to perfect fried chicken in its home state but also create a recipe that would withstand the challenges of Southern weather. Thus—after many trials and errors—this family-inspired, flavor-packed recipe was born.

The shining star of the dish is Fore’s very own Tuk Tuk Fried Chicken Spice, which delivers a combination of flavors—the main ingredients include turmeric and cumin—flavors from South Asia and Kentucky that will surely satisfy your tastebuds.

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Serves 6 to 8

    For the chicken
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons Tuk Tuk Fried Chicken Spice* (Or sub 1½ tablespoons Madras curry powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups safflower oil (or other frying oil)
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • For the curry leaf salt
  • ⅓ cup coarse finishing salt (such as Maldon)
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves
  • Zest of ½ lime
  • For the dredge
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour ¾ cup rice flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Marinate the chicken:

  1. In a glass bowl, whisk to combine buttermilk, ginger garlic paste, fried chicken spice, and salt.
  2. Add chicken thighs, turning with a fork to make sure all surfaces come into contact with the buttermilk.
  3. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make the curry leaf salt: 

  1. Rip up curry leaves, then use your fingers to mash them together with the coarse salt.
  2. Stir in lime zest.
  3. Set aside. (Store salt in a closed container for 6 to 8 weeks.)

Fry the chicken:

  1. In a heavy- bottomed pot, heat oil to 325 degrees.
  2. Prepare a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath.
  3. In a bowl, combine flours, cornstarch, salt, and pepper, and whisk to combine.
  4. One at a time, pull chicken thighs from marinade and shake off excess buttermilk.
  5. Dredge each thigh thoroughly in flour mixture, then fry 7 to 9 minutes or until golden brown with an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
  6. With tongs, remove from oil to cooling rack. Squeeze a lime wedge and sprinkle curry leaf salt over chicken.
  7. Serve hot.
  • Recipe By
    Sam Fore of Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Contributing City

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