My Thai: Grilled Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

Leela Punyaratabandhu

Growing up, the "yellow grilled chicken" was what I looked forward to every time we went on a family train trip out of town. Back then, if there was any street (in this case, train track) food I obsessed about, it was this turmeric-tinted grilled chicken secured with partially-split bamboo, hawked by kids my age who jumped on and off the train while it was parked at a station. Why? Because I never had it as a kid. Not even once.

Maybe we were on the wrong trains most of the time for the chicken, which other people seemed to like so much, often looked like it had been made the day before and kept unrefrigerated. And even if I could get past that, the buzzing flies that swarmed the grilled bird meant that there was no way I could convince the adults to let me have some of it. Hence the obsession over this "train grilled chicken," as they're called.


I finally got to taste turmeric grilled chicken at a place where quality and hygiene aren't an issue, though. And, boy, did I ever make up for lost time.

It's not hard to make this grilled chicken at all. In fact, this recipe is a simplified version of the traditional turmeric grilled "train" chicken which is either cooked whole or quartered. You're already familiar with the main marinade ingredients which is used in honey-baked chicken. The only new addition is ground turmeric which makes the chicken more aromatic.

Chunks of boneless, skinless chicken thighs are used here instead of whole or quartered chicken. This greatly reduces the grilling time and makes the recipe much friendlier without compromising on the flavor.