Crispy Kerala Fried Chicken (South Indian Popcorn Chicken)

Crispy Kerala Fried Chicken Recipe (South Indian Popcorn Chicken) via Worthy Pause

I’m terrified of deep-frying at home. I have never done it before this recipe. I have too much (skin) at stake.

However, I watched an Ugly Delicious episode on Netflix featuring Atlanta-based, South Indian-born chef Asha Gomez and I was like “YASSS MA GIRL.”

After the episode, I immediately went to my kitchen and started making a hack version of her Kerala fried chicken with ingredients I had on hand. It worked shockingly well, despite the fact that I was relying on my impressive culinary experience frying frozen Sysco tater tots and chicken fingers at The Churchkey—where I bartended in college in Madison. (“When it floats, it’s done?” I think.)

These grown-up chicken nuggets were gone in a flash, and I wanted to share this in case you want to copycat my copycat.

I truly off-roaded this one, so please excuse the fact that this recipe is not really a recipe as much as it is a choose-your-own-adventure. You will have to trust your instincts like the fearless, deep-frying chicken chef that you now are!

Crispy Kerala Fried Chicken Recipe (South Indian Popcorn Chicken) via Worthy Pause

Crispy Kerala Fried Chicken (South Indian Popcorn Chicken)

inspired by Asha Gomez’s Indian fried chicken featured on Ugly Delicious


  • boneless chicken of any sort, cut into bite-sized chunks (this is one situation where I find white meat acceptable)

  • store-bought coriander chutney (extra credit for making your own though)

  • plain yogurt (or buttermilk)

  • frying oil

  • flour (or cornstarch)

  • garam masala

  • chili powder

  • cayenne

  • salt

  • pepper

  • lemon or lime



  1. Mix together some coriander chutney and yogurt or buttermilk (about a half and half ratio).

  2. Marinate the chicken in that mixture for at least two hours and up to one day.

  3. When you are ready to fry, grab a big bowl and mix together some flour with your seasoning blend (garam masala, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper).

  4. Heat some cooking oil on medium-high heat in a large pot like a Dutch oven. Turn on all your exhaust fans, open all your windows, put on a full-body apron and protective eyewear, hide your kids, hide your wife. The deep-frying is about to go down.

  5. Grab the chicken from the marinade and toss a couple pieces in at a time to dredge (coat) the chicken very thoroughly in the flour mixture.

  6. Make sure the oil is hot before you start tossing chicken in. This part is terrifying. I usually just drop in a very small piece of chicken. If it sizzles, it’s ready.

  7. You’ll need to fry the chicken in batches so as not to crowd the deep-fryer (or lower the temperature too much when you drop cold chicken in).

  8. Fry each batch for a couple of minutes before stirring and turning each piece over if needed to ensure even browning. BE CAREFUL.

  9. When a batch of chicken is crispy and golden-brown on the outside and cooked thoroughly inside (about 5-8 minutes?), scoop it all out into a paper towel/newspaper-lined bowl to drain and repeat with the next batch until everything is cooked.

  10. If desired, season with a little extra sprinkle of spices, salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime before serving.

  11. Immediately eat all of them without sharing.


  • The lemon is a little trick I learned from Japanese chicken karaage and Austrian schnitzel—it makes every fried meat taste even better.

  • I made this popcorn chicken with regular dairy, flour and vegetable oil so they are not paleo or gluten-free, but you could absolutely experiment with omitting the dairy and using almond flour, coconut flour and coconut oil (coconut is basically the lifeblood of Kerala so that would be very appropriate here). If you do, please let me know how it turns out!

  • If you require a dipping sauce with fried chicken, you’ve got plenty of options, pal. You could do just coriander chutney or mix it up with the yogurt again like the marinade (or maybe mayo instead). Also, a store-bought tamarind chutney would be nice if you want something sweeter to go up against the spice. Even raita might be good, very cooling with the cucumber in there. Coconut chutney would be perfect but it’s kind of involved to make (it would be extra South Indian of you!).

Crispy Kerala Fried Chicken Recipe via Worthy Pause