Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi Puts a Totally Unexpected Ingredient in Her Fried Chicken

What's an exotic fruit ingredient doing in fried chicken? Read on.

There are as many ways of making fried chicken as there are people obsessed with the crispy, crunchy, juicy classic: You can make it so scorchingly hot that even Anthony Bourdain would be scared, or you can "fry" the chicken in the oven, or coat it in cornflakes, or pile it onto a waffle and drizzle it with syrup. But we'll admit that Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi's fried-chicken method is one we've never heard of before, and we're dying to try it ASAP.

Her secret? Green mango powder.

As Padma tells Food & Wine in the November issue, "Green mango powder is great because it lends tartness to a dish without liquid. I’ll add it to the dry mix for dredging my fried chicken. That way I avoid having to squirt lemon juice on it and making it soggy."

The powder, also known as amchoor, is made by drying unripe green mangoes in sunlight and grinding them into a powder. It's used in some Indian recipes, and you can buy it or make your own at home. 

Padma, who was born in India, reveals another of her favorite Indian dishes in the Food & Wine interview: a lentil and rice porridge called khichdi: "Whenever I was sick, that’s what my parents made me. I tend to prepare a ton and eat it for three or four days straight at lunch."

Read the rest of the Padma's Food & Wine interview here. Meanwhile, we're off to try that tangy green-mango-powder fried chicken—and now that it's getting cooler out, a warm bowl of khichdi (check out Padma's recipe) would most definitely hit the spot.

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