Indian food never fails to amaze me. To be specific, I’m a huge fan of chicken tikka masala, palak paneer, and turmeric fish curry. Every bite just brings me closer and closer to culinary heaven.
It’s a blend of spices, coconut milk, garlic, onions, and so many more ingredients. I’m still trying to learn how to make chicken tikka masala at home and every time I go to make it, I just end up getting distracted by the array of spices. If you are a pro at Indian cooking, hats off to you!
Turmeric is one of the essential spices in Indian cooking. In its natural form, turmeric looks exactly like ginger, except it has been dyed a deep, earthy orange color. In this recipe, I used ground turmeric (you can buy this in grocery stores) stirred into olive oil as a marinade. I then rub it into the chicken and 2 hours later, bake it in the oven.
The result is a beautifully golden, crisp chicken that smells great and tastes even better! There are also caramelized shallots that pack a punch into this entire dish. The flavors here are heavily inspired by Indian food, and it is sure to liven up your weeknight dinners.
Disclaimer: This is not your average baked chicken recipe!
This turmeric chicken recipe is fantastic because of how extremely easy it is to prepare (I’d say the hardest part is probably holding back from gobbling everything down yourself).
I absolutely adore this on days when I’m hitting the gym and have no time to make a full lunch spread. I just spoon a few slices of this chicken into a pita wrap, spread some tzatziki, and scatter some fresh cucumber slices in it. A quick lunch that’s ready in less than 5 minutes!
If you meal-prepped this recipe, please let me know how it went!
Why Put Turmeric on Meat?
Turmeric is known to be a natural remedy for stomach pain, bloating, intestinal gas, and heartburn. It’s packed with minerals and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Turn it into a golden milk latte, saute vegetables with it, or add it to your scrambled eggs – turmeric is highly versatile. When we put turmeric on meat, it’s believed to tenderize the meat and also mask any gamey, raw odors.
As far as I know, there isn’t much science to prove all this. But one thing’s for sure: the flavor and fragrance of turmeric are like no other!
- Ground turmeric – Measure 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric. Add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you want to pack a bit of heat.
- Olive oil – Measure 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil to create the liquid base for the spice rub.
- Chicken breasts – Buy 6 skinless chicken breasts. (If you prefer, you can opt for chicken thighs.)
- Pro Tip: Cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to ensure it cooks through evenly. Chicken is easier to slice when it is still semi-frozen.
- Large shallots – These look like tiny red onions and are shaped like garlic. Dice 3 large shallots or 6 small ones.
- Sugar and salt – Measure 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt to caramelize the shallots.
- Unsalted butter – For sauteing the shallots.
- Sherry vinegar – Measure 2 tablespoons of Sherry vinegar for the shallots. This can be replaced with apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, but you may want to add a pinch of sugar if using substitutes.
Step One: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Step Two: Make the marinade. Combine turmeric powder and olive oil. Rub the marinade on the chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Pro Tip: For the best results, use your hands to rub the marinade in. I recommend putting on a pair of gloves since turmeric tends to stain fingers (and clothes) a golden orange.
Step Three: Caramelize the shallots. Heat up a saucepan to medium-low heat. Add butter, sugar, salt, and shallots and let them simmer. Continue stirring until browned and crispy for about 10 minutes. Pour in the sherry vinegar and remove from heat.
- Pro Tip: The sherry vinegar gives the shallots a rich consistency, a deep color, and a subtle sharpness. However, the oil and vinegar will separate, so it needs to be stirred to mix everything up again before pouring.
Step Four: Lightly coat the inside of a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Add the chicken breasts to the baking dish and top all the pieces of chicken with the shallot mixture from the saucepan. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.
Step Five: Remove the baking dish from the oven at the 15-minute mark. Discard the tin foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
- Pro Tip: The trick with the tin foil is that it keeps the moisture trapped within the baking dish and prevents the chicken breasts from drying out. When we bake it uncovered later, the chicken breasts turn crispy and golden brown.
Step Six: Before serving, spoon the caramelized shallots over each chicken breast. Optionally, squirt a bit of lime juice over each piece of chicken to give it a pop of freshness before serving.
What to Serve with This Recipe?
Turmeric chicken is a protein, which means all you need is some fats, carbs, and vegetables, and you’re all set! I have a few serving suggestions that you might like:
- Fats – I can see this Greek yogurt tzatziki dip being served with turmeric chicken. Creamy and tangy meet sweet and spicy.
- Carbs – For traditional rice options, make some basmati rice or steamed brown rice. This recipe also makes a brilliant topping for flatbread.
- Veggies – Any type of vegetables will go with this turmeric chicken recipe. For starters, try this bean salad or a bold Shirazi salad. You could even roast vegetables while baking the chicken. (Is that what they meant when they said to kill two birds with one stone?) This curry roasted fall salad and quinoa sweet potato salad will make excellent side dishes.
Turmeric Chicken Recipe
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 skinless chicken breasts
- 3 large shallots diced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sherry Vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
- Combine turmeric and olive oil. Rub on chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- In a medium saucepan, bring shallots, sugar, salt, and butter to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and remove from heat.
- Lightly spray a glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Add chicken breasts and top with shallot mixture from saucepan. Cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven at 15 minute mark, remove tin foil and add baking dish back in the oven uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
- To serve, spoon caramelized shallots over each chicken breast.
- Bon Appetit!