Payyoli Chicken Fry: Great Side Dish
Image Credit: Payyoli chicken/


Payyoli lies on the North Malabar coast in Kerala, in the Southernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, and is renowned for its special chicken dish, known by the name of the town itself, ‘Payyoli Chicken Fry’. Though it is primarily a side dish, it can also be enjoyed as an accompaniment to the main course comprising rice and sambar or curry. You can enjoy Payyoli Chicken Fry as a starter also, whenever you feel like making something special with that evening drink or when you have guests coming over. This recipe requires mainly a chilli paste marination and can be made with very few ingredients. As the name suggests it is deep fried and makes for a crispy yet tender and juicy dish for those who like their non-veg ‘red hot’ (pun intended). 


Kerala cuisine, known for both its vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, uses a lot of poultry, fish, seafood and red meat with rice to accompany, since the latter is a staple food. Spices are aplenty in the Land of Gods and usage of turmeric, tamarind, mustard seeds, whole red chillies, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and bay leaves is normal. Historically, the Malabar Coast extensively traded its spices with a lot of countries in Europe. A lot of ancient records – like that of the Sumerians from 3000 BC also mention the rich spices from the Malabar region. This dish in particular uses less spices but that is because the primary taste is that of whole red chillies and a sprinkling of garam masala. 

Preparation time: 25 minutes 

Cooking time: 30 minutes 

Servings: 3-4 servings 


1. 5–6 – chicken leg pieces / drum sticks (washed and cleaned thoroughly), score them or give gashes on the sides for marination to be absorbed properly

2. 300 ml - coconut oil for deep frying 

3. Chilli paste ingredients (for marination)

4. 10-15 dry red whole chillies (soaked for 10 minutes or till soft) 

5. 6-8 - garlic cloves, 

6. 1 inch – ginger sliced, 

7. 1 tsp – fennel seeds 

8. ½ cup shallots or small cubed onions

Method - chilli paste: 

1. Soak whole red chillies for 10 minutes or till soft

2. Remove the stems and transfer to blender

3. Add Garlic, Fennel seeds, Shallots and Ginger 

4. Blend to a coarse paste using very little water 

5. Keep aside

Chicken payyoli/

1. 3/4 of the total chilli paste 

2. Chicken drumsticks 

3. ¼ cup corn flour

4. 2 tbsp - rice flour 

5. 1 tsp – turmeric powder 

6. 1 tsp – cumin seeds powder 

7. 1 tsp garam masala powder 

8. 1 tbsp – coconut oil 

9. salt to taste

10. drizzle water –as needed 

For first garnish

1. 1-15 - Curry leaves 

2. 6-8 - Green chillies

3. ¼ cup coconut oil (for frying this and the second garnish also) 


1. Heat oil in a pan 

2. Add slit green chillies 

3. Add curry leaves and wait till they splutter

4. Remove and keep aside on a plate for use later 

For second garnish 

1 cup – grated coconut 


1. In the same oil as taken for first garnish, put in the grated coconut and fry till well browned

2. Add ¼ of chilli paste and cook both together till mixed well  

3. Transfer to a pan and keep aside for later use

For Plating 

5-6 lemon wedges

Method for preparing marination and subsequent frying of chicken 

1. Take 3/4th of the total chilli paste

2. Mix rice flour, corn flour, salt to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala and coconut oil

3. Drizzle some water to make a smooth paste and mix it well

4. Apply marination to the scored chicken leg one at a time, covering each piece well  

5. Heat oil in a deep pan/kadhai 

6. Add 2-3 chicken pieces at a time and let deep fry for at least 15-20 minutes or till the chicken is well done

7. Add a second batch of the chicken and repeat the process

8. Once it’s ready, put the coconut garnish onto the plate, place the chicken drumsticks on top and sprinkle curry leaves and green chillies 

9. Add lemon wedges to the side 

Payyoli Chicken Fry is served with lemon wedges, green chillies and curry leaves on the side and can be had as an appetiser. It is rich with coastal flavours and is finger-licking good.