Chicken is one of the most common features in a majority of world cuisines and it duly finds its place in India too. From curries to biryani or even rolls, Indian cuisine has a bustling variety of chicken dishes that are a part of our everyday life. What starts off as a blank canvas, chicken pieces are then painted with splashes of spices and flavours that make them distinct in their own way. Most chefs and home cooks will agree that marinating is one of the most essential steps in cooking any dish. Even more so when the dish in hand is made with meaty chunks of chicken that are in desperate need of external flavouring agents.
From the ingredients you choose for the marinade to the time period you let the chicken marinate for, every tiny detail is necessary to look at if you want to master the art of making the best and most flavourful chicken dishes. The world of marinades is vast and confusing, and for everyone looking for some of the best and fool-proof ways for marinating chicken, here is a list of tips that you can follow at home.
7 Easy Tips For Marinating Chicken:
1. Pierce The Chicken:
The steps for achieving the perfectly marinated chicken starts before you can even prepare the actual marinade. The first thing you want to do is pierce or poke your chicken piece with a sharp fork all over, you may even make tiny slits if the pieces are too large. This step ensures that the marinade you will be using seeps into the chicken piece and also minimizes the cooking time. Remember, with non-gravy dishes, the more you cook it, the drier it becomes.
Poke chicken pieces for better marination
2. Blend the marinade:
Depending on the ingredients of your marinade, it is mostly suggested to blend together ingredients to mix the oils and fats better. A smooth ginger garlic paste instance will spread the flavours faster than chunks of ginger garlic here and there. If you cannot find a blender, at least try and shake all the ingredients of the marinade together in a jar before pouring it on the chicken.
The ideal marinade is made with an acid ingredient, combined with a fat ingredient like oil, plus additional spices, herbs and syrups to lend a specific flavour to the chicken. For instance, one of the most common marinades that we can use for a simple Indian chicken dish would consist of lemon juice (acidic ingredient), Oil and flavouring agents like ginger garlic paste and powdered spices.
Unless you are running low on time and energy and are making a dish that specifically calls for no marination, it is always advised to marinade for a couple of hours. Restaurants even go to the extent of marinating chicken for as long as 24 hours and that is perfectly acceptable. The longer you let the meat sit in the marinade, the higher chances of it soaking in all the goodness of the marinade. Of course, you can cook with a 10 minutes marination as well, but if you can afford to wait, do so for at least an hour.
5. Ideal condition:
Given the point above, it is expected to marinate the chicken for a couple of hours and it is utterly imperative to place it in a refrigerator while doing so. The ingredients used in a marinade, especially when it is hot and humid will start reacting and may even facilitate bacterial growth if not kept in the freezer. Place the marinated chicken in an airtight container or at least a container with proper coverage and let it sit for as many hours as you are planning to.
Always keep chicken in refrigerator for marination
6. Marinating Indian dishes:
If you are ready to become a pro in marinating after reading all these tips, let us help you out with some favourites. When making Indian dish like tikka or other tandoor items, it is advised to follow the double marination process. The first set of ingredients usually consists of flavourful ginger garlic paste and dried spices. The second set will include hung curd that is thick and creamy so the chicken pieces do not leave a lot of water. Get chef-approved tips on marinating Indian tikkas here.
7. Velveting Chicken:
If we talk about indo-Chinese dishes, in particular, the marinating process for them is different than what most of us are used to. It requires you to dip and marinade chicken strips in egg whites and boil them later. Famous restaurant-style Chinese dishes like cashew chicken and kung pao chicken are usually prepared with this technique. It is called the velveting method and leaves chicken moist and tender inside out. Read all about it here.
Indo-Chinese dishes are made by velveting technique.
There, follow these steps for the most flavorful and juicy chicken dishes. Let us know if you are aware of other important marinating tips in the comments below.