Even though we didn’t celebrate Christmas, December was always a festive time for us growing up (here’s a piece I wrote about the holidays for TASTE in 2017). My parents hosted a ton during the month, and I have continued the tradition between the various cities I have called home. There are nights and days that are easier than others depending on how smart we have been about menu planning. These baked chicken drumsticks are precisely one of those dishes that make the day a lot easier. I love how they pair well with a variety of dishes and cuisines, and super easy to make.
The recipe is adapted from my mother and home cook, Shahnaz. I’m not sure how the recipe came about. Is it a traditional Pakistani recipe? Definitely not. But it’s definitely the type of recipe that would come out a Pakistani home from years of trial and error. My mother would use this marinade on both a rack of lamb as well as chicken. They typically prepare the meat over a stovetop but I wanted to adapt their recipe in the oven to make dinner preparation easier.
I used drumsticks here but the recipe can easily be adapted for any other type of cut with bone. Given that it’s a yogurt marinade, these baked chicken drumsticks will not be as crispy as ones made with a dry rub but the 10 minute broil does give the skin some crisp and a nice golden brown color (thanks to my friend Anita for the tip!), and the 30 minute bake at high heat still leaves enough moisture in the chicken.
Tips on How to Bake Chicken
I want to thank my Instagram community for all their great advice on baking chicken. I love crispy baked chicken but also realize that in Pakistan, we frequently marinade the chicken with yogurt, which makes it really difficult to get that perfect crispy skin. Here I have created the effect of crispy skin thanks to my friend Anita’s advice of putting the chicken on broil on high heat for the last 10 minutes. Here are some of the other great tips shared by Pakistan Eats friends:
- Shahla from the fabulous blog, My Berkeley Kitchen, and my friend Ragini, both advocate for crisping the skin on high heat in a pan before putting it in the oven.
- Shahla also recommends patting the skin dry to remove excess moisture. See Helen Rosner’s pro-tip of using a hair dryer to make roast chicken.
- Another reader recommends avoiding yogurt altogether and instead adding lemon for tanginess, and a little bit of cream or mayonnaise for softness.
- Kiran, behind the amazing Pakistani food blog, Mirchi Tales, says that when she does add yogurt, she strains it to make it thicker and reduce the water content.
If you are interested in grilling chicken rather than baking it, have a look at Qaiser Mamoon’s recipe for chicken tikka that my husband adapted a couple of summers ago.
Pakistani Style Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp crushed ginger
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- ½ cup whole milk yogurt
- 6 drumsticks
- Stir chili powder, salt, garam masala powder, vinegar, crushed ginger and garlic in yogurt and mix well.
- Make diagonal slits in the drumsticks and coat in yogurt marinade. Cover and refrigerate for six hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450°F with a rack in middle. Place drumsticks in ovenproof dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove cover and let the chicken bake for another 15 minutes.
- Increase heat to 500°F and bring oven to broil. Broil chicken for 8 – 10 minutes.