Think Arabia… imagine dates, kahwa , exotic dishes, roasted lambs. What one does not imagine is Fried Chicken!
Al Baik , has taken the lead in the Makkah region, by serving fried chicken with a tangy Garlic Sauce, for over two decades. I grew up with memories of us buying a box of Al-Baik, which would have half of a chicken, lumpy fries and a bun, with Garlic sauce.. and driving to the sea side for an instant picnic. Anyone visiting us for Umrah would surely be treated to this food of the land, and told.. No Al Baik means.. No pilgrimage is complete (Just Joking ). I would even further the comical situation by retelling, how my younger brother and I, when taken on Hajj, would say Al-Baik Al-Baik.. instead of Lab-Baik Lab-Baik ,at times of eating. Do note that, we were both in our teens and meant no blasphemy.
Coming to present day, Al Baik has evolved to include Fish and Shrimps, along with choice of purchasing extra Garlic Sauce. You can not even imagine the evils that come forward in all Al Baik eaters at the time when the last Garlic Sauce was to be snagged. In my last few days in Saudi, Al Baik was one of the few must-eat items on my list. However, having arrived to Canada, and tried all versions of Halal fried chicken, I took on the quest for making a home-made version. Back in Saudi, I would have scoffed at this notion!
Being part of a wonderful cooking group called ‘Indulge Spices’ on Facebook, I was soon gifted by a fail-proof recipe. This recipe came from a fellow cook Rabia Jurial. I tried.. and I converted!
The recipe is copied as is from the group page:
1 chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces (with or without skin, up to you)
Wash and drain the chicken well. Using a fork, prick the chicken pieces all over.
Then marinate them in:
1 beaten egg
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. corn flour
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 tbsp. garlic paste
1 tbsp. soya sauce
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1 tbsp. paprik
salt to taste
½ tsp. Chinese salt
½ tsp. black pepper powder
Cover with cling film and put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Next, mix half a cup of flour with half tsp. salt and half tsp. chili powder. Put this in a plastic bag.
Now, 2 pieces at a time, put the chicken in the flour bag and shake to make sure each piece is well coated with the flour. This helps give the chicken a perfect rough and crispy surface.
Heat oil on high, add the chicken pieces without crowding the pan. You can do them in 2-3 batches. Lower the heat and deep-fry each batch for about 15 minutes, making sure to turn the chicken pieces once or twice in the oil in order to get them golden on all sides.
Drain on kitchen towels and serve with fries and some garlic sauce!
My results are as follows:
The Garlic Sauce I use is as follows:
1 whole boiled potato, peeled and cooled. I put it in blender with a clove of garlic, pinch of salt, and some vinegar to blend. Then I add around 1/2 cup of Vegetable oil till its creamy and fluffy.
If you fancy a visit to the actual menu.. check their website.
In meanwhile, tell me how your Al-Baik chicken turned out 🙂