Al Faham Chicken: The Gulf Sensation Taking Over Southern India
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Al Faham comes from the Arabic word 'Fahum' which means coal. The dish, simply put, is barbecued chicken that's marinated in Arabian spices and char grilled over coal or in an oven. This dish originated in the Middle East but due to the large diaspora of Indians working there, it has slowly made its entrance into Indian restaurants, and is very popular especially in Kerala and Mangalore city. Bone-in chicken pieces twice-marinated in a distinct Arabian spice mix termed Bezar for a minimum of three hours is then barbequed to create this flavourful and delectable dish, suited for a perfect weeknight dinner date or a friends night out. Paired with mint chutney, pickled onions and garlic aioli and served with paper-thin roomali rotis, this dish is the one to seek out at all times in any restaurant or bistro that would have it on its menu. 

But wait, there's more! What if we tell you that you could make it in your home, oven or otherwise if you could only lay your hands on a couple of charcoal. That's right! This recipe is super easy to make and we have a detailed recipe arranged for you from the preparation of the custom spice mix to how you can obtain that distinct char grilled texture without an oven or a charcoal grill at your disposal. So, without further ado, let's get cracking!


-2 butterflied chicken thighs with drumsticks (the lower half of two chickens, attached yet flayed open)

-2 tbsp melted butter

-2 pieces of charcoal

For the homemade Bezar spice mix:

-4 green cardamom pods

-4 cloves

-2 inch stick of cinnamon

-1 tbsp black peppercorns

-1 tbsp cumin seeds

-1 tbsp fennel seeds

-1 tbsp coriander seeds

For the first marination:

-1 tbsp turmeric powder

-2 tbsp kashmiri red chilli powder

-3 tbsp ginger garlic paste

-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

-1 tbsp salt

For the 2nd marination:

-1 cup hung sour yogurt

-1 tbsp dried chilli flakes

-1½ tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

-1½ tbsp olive oil

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-Wash the pieces of chicken and pat them dry with a paper towel.

-Make a few slits in the meaty areas of the chicken pieces. Not too deep, just enough to let the spices in.

-Add the lime juice, the powdered spices and salt and rub it in every nook and cranny of the chicken pieces.

-Set the chicken aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

-In the meantime, dry roast the whole spices for the homemade bezar mix in a skillet.

-Once aromatic, put the whole spices in a grinder to form the custom arabian barbeque spice mix.

-When the chicken has marinated for 30 minutes, or more, start by mixing the bezar with the wet marinade.

-Drop the chicken pieces in the wet marinade and wait for atleast 3 hours or overnight.

For roasting in an oven-

-Preheat the oven to 260 degrees Celsius.

-Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil, place the chicken pieces on a wire rack and roast for 10-15 minutes.

-Turn the pieces over periodically and baste it with marinade using a brush until the juices run clear.

-When the meat almost begins to separate from the bones near the drumstick ends, that is an indication for you to change the oven setting to broil.

-Broil it for about 2 minutes on each side turning once or twice and basting it with butter this time.

For grilling in a pan-

-Take a grill pan and brush it with olive oil or butter and put it on high flame.

-Add the chicken pieces to the pan and let it grill for 30-35 minutes or basting it with leftover marinade and turning the pieces from time to time.

-Once the meat is almost beginning to separate from the bones, and the juices are running clear, baste it with butter on both sides for a finishing sheen.

-But the work is not done! To get that smoky char grilled flavour, add the cooked chicken pieces to a large mixing bowl and in the middle of the bowl add a steel glass filled with lit pieces of charcoal.

-Add a few drops of oil over the lit charcoal so it starts to smoke

-Cover the mixing bowl with aluminum foil and let the chicken pieces smoke for 10 minutes.

-After the 10 minutes, carefully remove the glass with a pair of kitchen tongs and serve the chicken pieces onto a plate with roomali roti and the various accoutrements and enjoy!