Food for Thought: Hot Legs – Spicy chicken with the Nair family

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When we reach the lobby of the Indian-born Nair family’s Wanjing apartment, we’re greeted by younger son Sparsh (age 11), handsome in his shiny midnight-blue suit. He ushers us upstairs to meet dad Sukesh, mom Sonia, and older brother Yash (14), and we can’t help noticing that everyone in the family is looking super sharp today.

Sparsh and Yash attend Beijing World Youth Academy, conveniently located near the family home. Sukesh, who is manager of after sales consultants for BMW, has been in China for 20 years, in various roles across the BMW retail and wholesale networks. Today, he is acting head chef, ably assisted by Sparsh. Sukesh’s joke that the boys do all the cooking in this house is quickly cast into doubt by Sonia’s watchful hovering, and helpful tips. “Don’t let it burn,” she laughs. Sonia, who substitute teaches for many international schools in Beijing, originally came to China on a scholarship to Beijing Language and Culture University, for an advanced program in Chinese language and literature. She and Sukesh met at an embassy event 15 years ago, and have made their life in China since, living in Shanghai, Dalian, Chongqing, Chengdu, and now Beijing. Over an Indian spiced-tea, and the delicious chicken legs, we chat about how much Beijing and Wangjing in particular have changed in the decades the Nairs have been here.

This dish is simple to make; not too spicy, tender, crispy, and delicious. “It’s a typical Indian marinade, like that used for Tandoor dishes,” says Sonia. “We didn’t make it very spicy for you, but when we make it for ourselves, we make it red.” So if you like it hot, double the chili powder in this recipe!

Quick Indian-Style Chicken

Ingredients 成分
4 chicken legs 4只鸡腿
1 tsp chili powder 1茶匙辣椒粉
½ an onion, coarsely chopped 半颗洋葱,切碎
½ cup coriander leaves
¼ cup mint leaves 1/4杯薄荷叶
6 tbsp yoghurt 6汤匙酸奶
3 tbsp flour 3汤匙面粉
1 tbsp Garam Masala (Indian five spice powder) 1汤匙姆马萨拉(印度五香粉)
1 tbsp ginger paste
3 minced garlic cloves
Salt (to taste) 盐(适量)
Oil (for frying) 油(煎炸用)

Instructions 做法
1. Rinse the chicken. 将鸡腿洗净。

2. Combine the remaining ingredients (except for the oil) into a smooth paste. 各种调料(除油 之外)混合成均匀的糊状料汁。

3. Pour the paste over the chicken legs and rub into the meat. 将鸡腿和调料均匀混合。
4. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. 腌制至少30分钟。
5. Heat oil in a frying pan to a medium heat. 在煎锅中加热油。
6. Place the marinated chicken in the pan; pour the marinade over the chicken. 将腌制好的鸡腿放入煎锅中,余下的调料汁也一同倒入。
7. When one side becomes golden brown, turn the chicken leg. Both sides should look nicely fried and crispy. 当一面鸡腿煎至金黄色时翻面,两面煎炸至熟即可出锅。


This article originally appeared on page 30-31 of the beijingkids November 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on To find out how you can get your own copy, email

Chinese translation by Abby Wang. Photos by Uni You

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