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Spicy Stove-top Balsamic Drumsticks

Those who know me know that I don't really believe in stock cubes - a little something passed onto me by my mother, who studied nutrition, and she said to stay well away from them and opt for spices instead. Well, if recent studies about stock cubes proved anything, they've proved that she really knew her stuff. Stock cubes are not only high in sodium, but also contain hydrogenated oil and MSG - both are pretty bad for your health, and if you're using them often, you’re basically consuming a disaster. Why risk it? Instead, say hello to spices! Seriously, embrace them. It took me a while to come up with the same lovely stock-cubey taste without using stock-cubes… or animal broth of any kind. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought and at the same time, far less harmful.

Natural, fragrant and full or flavor, the right combination of spices can really turn bland food into an explosion, and offer a number of health benefits too. Win-win? Absolutely. This ridiculously simple spicy sauce brings out a whole heap of flavor and makes chicken just that much more delicious. This recipe calls for drumsticks, but can just as easily be used with diced chicken breasts, on pasta, or even with paneer.


  • 6-8 drumsticks

  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes (powder is good too)

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • ½ teaspoon cumin

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 ¼ cups water

  • ½ cup water mixed with 1 ½ tablespoons corn flour, dissolved


  • In a deep non-stick saucepan, add tomato paste, garlic, dried onion, all the spices, salt, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

  • Turn the heat on high and simmer ingredients together until they resemble a thick paste. Add 1 cup of water and stir until incorporated.

  • Lower the heat to medium, and pop in the drumsticks, side by side.

  • Cover, and leave to simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

  • With metal tongs, turn the drumsticks over and leave to cook covered for another 10-15 minutes.

  • Dissolve corn flour in ½ cup of water. Pour and stir into the sauce. The sauce should start to thicken almost immediately. Turn your drumsticks over, and leave to simmer in it for an additional 8-10 minutes.

  • Before serving, roll the drumsticks around in the sauce to coat them.

  • Pop them onto a dish and serve with the side of your choice.

Note: With this recipe, you might have quite a bit of the sauce left over. I’ve scooped it into a jar or air-tight container and kept it in the fridge for a few days and used it on pasta. Alternatively, you can freeze it for later use.

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