Turmeric, Garlic and Chilli Chicken Rub

baked_thighs_Some of you might remember how enthusiastic I was to discover Rick Stein’s India, bought after seeing his fascinating culinary tv series set in India. Apart from opening my eyes to the world of Indian fish and seafood cuisine, both the tv program and the book made me stop using the curry powder after long years of mistaking it for a traditional spice mixture. Apparently it is considered by many – or maybe all ? – Indian cooks as a Western attempt to make a false shortcut to their rich culinary heritage and a disgrace to their cuisine. This information was enough to make me throw the stuff away.

Before, curry powder was a staple, especially as a part of rub for baked or grilled chicken. Nowadays I simply combine individual spices on my own, ending up with mixtures which are composed of Indian spices, but I never pretend they are genuine or/and traditional. I enjoy this new approach and find the flavours somehow clearer and brighter. This simplest four-ingredient rub has quickly become my basic favourite for all the baked chicken cuts, eaten both warm and cold (in sandwiches, wraps, spring rolls or salads). I think I use this spice mixture on average once a week, so I couldn’t imagine not sharing it with you. The below recipe is for baked skinless thighs, but you an easily adapt it to any chicken cut you want, skinless or not.

TIPS: I do not recommend using fresh garlic here (unless you stuff the meat with it) because it will burn during the baking/grilling process. Dried ground garlic can be bought probably everywhere, but I encourage you to make your own. It takes only a while and the final result is noticeably better than the one you used to buy. Here is my easy recipe for Homemade Dried Garlic.

If you don’t like hot dishes, replace chilli powder with sweet pepper powder.

If you don’t use turmeric often, beware: it’s very easy to overdose and make your chicken bitter.

Preparation: 20 minutes – 1 hour depending on the method and the cuts (grilling chicken breasts will take about 20 minutes, while baking legs might take up to one hour, including the oven preheating time)

Ingredients (serves two):

2 chicken thighs (skinned or not) or other chicken cuts of your choice

oil to brush on skinless cuts


1 teaspoon dried powdered garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons powdered chilli or powdered sweet pepper 

Rub the spices into the chicken, starting with salt.

Brush with oil on top if you use skinless cuts.

Preheat the oven, if baking or broiling.

Put the seasoned chicken legs into a baking dish.

Bake or broil or grill until the meat is golden. (If you grill or broil, you need to turn the cuts of course; if you bake, you don’t need to do it).




20 Replies to “Turmeric, Garlic and Chilli Chicken Rub”

  1. Your recipe sounds simple and delicious. You can’t beat grilled chicken with a few carefully chosen spices to let the flavour stand out.

  2. This looks like a simple and delicious rub. Tha added advantage is that Turmeric is so good for you.

    1. Thank you, Toffeeapple. I hope turmeric is healthy in the amounts I eat every week because I do use it quite often…

    1. Hi, Fareeha. Thank you for the comment! I don’t think I would ever be able to make a video tutorial 🙂

  3. Your chicken looks so warm and inviting Sissi – the colour is just beautiful. Turmeric is all the rage right now among the health food blogging community for it’s well known anti-inflammatory component curcumin. These waves always make me smile and I love seeing the spice used here in its native context and not in say, a popsicle 😀 simply because it’s en vogue.

    I’m glad you reminded us of your homemade garlic powder. The garlic powders that I buy are full of salt (in fact I’m pretty sure there is more salt than garlic) and when something is so easy to do ourselves, it makes a lot of sense to go that route. My Indian friends remind me all the time that curry powder has little to do with Indian cuisine :p I’ve learnt a lot from them but, as a busy mom, I sometimes opt for the mix anyway ;-). Happy Sunday Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I think I read about turmeric’s health benefits a long time ago, but I never think it acts in any way when I add it to dishes… One probably needs huge amounts for that… (I hope I’m wrong though!).
      Here garlic powder doesn’t contain salt, but still it’s so much better homemade… (I still find it extraordinary that I discovered how to make it simply because I ran out of the bought stuff!).
      Finally, since not a single Indian recipe calls for curry powder anyway, I hardly noticed I no longer use it (I used it for pseudo-Indian recipes invented by myself).

  4. I usually have dehydrated garlic on hand for dry rubs, as you indicated, it’s essential so the rub doesn’t burn. I read that turmeric is an anti-inflammatory so it’s great to have in your diet if you have any type of inflammation (I have a bad head cold now). Not to mention it gives your dish a gorgeous colour. I’m always suspect of ready-made spice combinations so from the very start, I’ve tried to make my own and that way you control exactly what you like or dislike. It’s getting colder now and we’re beginning to crave heartier comfort foods and this dish sound perfect with its warming spices and beautiful colour.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. I love turmeric for both the colour and the taste it gives. Even the smell of Indian spices already makes me warmer!

  5. This chicken looks amazing with the crunchy crust and I suspect the tender inside! I love Indian spices, the ones that are not hot of course! lol

    1. Thank you, Katerina. Legs are always more tender than breasts. It’s equally delicious with sweet pepper powder (for those who don’t like the heat 😉 ).

  6. Hello Sissi! Sorry I haven’t been here for ages to leave a comment. Hope you’re well! I love the use of garlic powder (makes sense!), and homemade? Even better and so impressive! I’d love to make it one day. Garlic powder often gets stuck in the spice jar as I don’t use often. It’s a good time to make my own! The chicken looks really good. Love the spices (now that I can eat a lot more!). 😀

    1. Hi Nami! So nice to see you! Homemade powdered garlic takes a moment only and it’s fantastic for anything roasted or grilled because fresh garlic often burns. Thank you for the compliments!

  7. I often buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs…they are the best part of the chicken as far as my husband is concerned. We bought a new grill when we moved to our new house and this recipe sounds like one I have to try. Thank you, Sissi.

  8. I can see why you use this rub several times a week. What an easy rub to make and with the garlic, tumeric and chilli – those are some powerful flavors! I don’t use tumeric near as much as I should. Bobby has a hard time with it so I have to hide it. This rub is a great place to hide it behind the chile powder. 🙂 With the cooler weather, the oven is back in business, so this easy and scrumptious chicken dish is a must!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. Maybe you can use just less turmeric… I admit it has a kind of “suffocating” and bitter taste, so I always make sure I don’t exaggerate too.

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