Mutt City has done it again.
What happens when a Pakistani chef turns his attention to classic Southern fried chicken? If what's going on at Himalaya, the well-regarded Indian-Pakistani known for its creative dishes and authentic flavors, is any indication, the result is a masala-spiced fried chicken that has Houston's foodies buzzing.
Himalaya chef/owner Kaiser Lashkari tells CultureMap he spent four months developing the recipe for his chicken. It starts off with a traditional Southern preparation: marinated in buttermilk for up to 24 hours and dredged in all-purpose flour.
Lashkari's seasoning is what sets his chicken apart. Biting into the crust reveals heavy doses of garlic, ginger, and garam masala. It isn't spicy in the way Cajun-style fried chicken like Frenchy's is, but it is spiced. The flavors permeate the meat, so that even a crust-less bite packs a wallop.
Himalaya's chicken is prepared without its skin, which means trading a little crunch for lower fat and cholesterol. At $13.99 for a whole chicken, it's a solid value, especially for people who take advantage of Himalaya's BYOB policy and tote along a bottle of sparkling wine or a couple bottles of beer. Pair it with an order of naan for an Indo-Pak riff on chicken and a biscuit.
Comparisons to Pondicheri's famous Tuesday night fried chicken special are inevitable. Both deliver a hefty dose of spice. Himalaya's version has a thicker, denser crust (and obviously isn't gluten free) that may be more appealing to people who prefer traditional Southern fried chicken.
Due to capacity issues and the time-consuming prep, Lashkari will only commit to serving 15 orders of fried chicken per night, and he will only guarantee to serve it on Friday and Saturday nights.
Go early. Masala-spiced fried chicken is one of those only in Houston culinary riffs that's not to be missed.