'Check, Please! Bay Area' Presents: Mahila's Mamak Fried Chicken

Chef Azalina Eusope's Mamak Fried Chicken brings the flavors of Mahila into your home. (Courtesy of Azalina Eusope)

More Check, Please! Recipes To Try

Featured on this week's Check, Please! Bay Area, Mahila by Azalina's is the deeply personal project of Chef Azalina Eusope, dedicated to the generations of women who raised her (Mahila translates to "becoming a woman"). Azalina, a fifth-generation mamak food vendor, strives to bring mamak Malaysian cuisine into the spotlight with dishes that evoke the meals from her childhood in Penang. Here's Eusope's Mamak Fried Chicken from Mahila that you can make at home.

Chef Azalina Eusope as a child. Her Noe Valley restaurant Mahila is dedicated to the generations of women who raised her. (Courtesy of Azalina Eusope)

The fried chicken marinade has a variety of spices that really bring it to life.  This recipe uses a blender instead of a large mortar and pestle Azalina grew up using in her grandmother's house. A long marination yields a dark, caramelized coating of bloomed spice, perfectly accented by a garnish of fresh mint and crunchy, sharp daikon.

To cook alongside Azalina, check out her video tutorial featured on @kqedbayareabites' Instagram Story.

Chef Azalina Eusope recommends letting the meat marinate for 24 hours for maximum flavor development. (Courtesy of Azalina Eusope)

Mamak Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 14 pieces
  • 3 tbsp ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 whole shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 5 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup roasted turmeric
  • 1/2 cup curry leaves
  • 8-12 chili de Arbol
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, plus extra for garnish
  • 2-4 tbsp water, if needed
  • Rice bran oil to fry*
  • Mint, to garnish
  • Daikon radish, cut in thin sticks, to garnish

*Editor's Note: If you don't have rice bran oil, you can try using any oil with a higher smoke point, like peanut or vegetable oil. 

  1. Wash and rinse chicken.  Pat dry.
  2. In a blender, add honey, 2 tbsp water, ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, fennel, cumin, chili, curry leaves, salt, turmeric, and lemon juice. Purée until all spices breaks down .
  3. Rub all or half of the marinade onto the pieces of chicken.
  4. Marinate for a minimum of 2-6 hours and up to 24 hours for ideal flavor development.
  5. Heat oil for frying to hit 320-325F.
  6. Slowly put some of the chicken pieces inside the pot and fry them according to the size and thickness of the chicken to ensure all the pieces cook evenly. Thighs and drumstick cook for 12-15 min, wings, hearts, and neck cook for 10-15 min and breasts cook for 15-20 min.
  7. The honey in the marinade will yield a slightly dark color from the caramelization. Azalina notes, "Don’t be alarmed. It’s utter deliciousness!!"
  8. Finish cooking the remaining of the meat.
  9. Garnish with chopped mint, crisp daikon and squeeze of lemon juice .
Chef Azalina Eusope, achieving "utter deliciousness" while frying chicken pieces. (Courtesy of Azalina Eusope)

Tune in to watch the Check, Please! Bay Area episode featuring Mahila by Azalina's as well as a Mano and Le Paradis, this Thursday at 7:30pm on KQED 9.

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