Falling in love with fried chicken is like having an affair that provided only instant gratification. Few restaurants in Mumbai serve good fried chicken unlike, say, New York where every street has its own iteration of this tasty meal. In Mumbai, many restaurants mess up by making it too fancy; some places are careless while dealing with this classic snack, with either the oil being too deep, the temperature being wrong, flour gone berserk or uncooked chicken on the inside.
Thankfully, we now have a credible option apart from Kentucky Fried Chicken, if you know where to look and don’t blink and miss. Just before the famous Khoja Florist near St Andrew’s Church in Bandra is the Halal Fried Chicken stall. It’s a take-away with no seating arrangements. The chicken here isn’t frozen or re-fried. It’s fresh and made only when the order is placed. We order the eight-piece-meal that comes with four sesame buns, eight pieces of chicken (combination of legs, breasts, and wings) and French Fries. We also order Cajun Popcorn Chicken.
Fifteen minutes later, we are driving home with our dinner. Few issues: Fifteen minutes is long for ‘fast’ food. Although being fresh fried chicken makes it worth the wait. The packing isn’t smart. By the time we reach home, the chicken is bursting through the paper and being held only by the plastic bags. There is no tomato ketchup; instead, we must make do with garlic dips that go with Cajun Popcorn but doesn’t partner with fried chicken.
The first and the best part of the fried chicken here is the craggy, crunchy crust that clings to the meat. The chicken is surprisingly meaty and has a respectable crunch. The bird is brined and coated in flour and fried at the right temperature so that the skin gets a nice crust right up to the last bite. The fresh chicken taste kicks in as you go deeper. The advantage of the fresh chicken is that the skin is so flaky that it explodes when you bite into it, and the meat stays flavourful to the last bite.
The Cajun Popcorn Chicken is a seasoning blend with herbs and is cooked with chicken that’s tossed in the oil to produce deliciously spicy cajun chicken. This cajun spice is a spicy iteration and has a delicious Indian flavour to it. The only grouse is that the entire crispy element vanished when we began to eat our meal. This is a disaster for a take-away only place. Very tasty, no doubt but almost squelchy!