Tandoori-Style Chicken

Photo by my_amii/flickr

To make it as close to the original as possible, use small roasting chickens. Allow half a small chicken for each serving.


2 small roasting chickens
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons salt
pinch chilli powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons melted ghee


Remove the skin to allow flavors to penetrate and make slits in the thickest part of the flesh to assist this further. Toast the saffron strands for a minute in a dry pan, turn onto a saucer and when cool and crisp, crush to a powder with the back of a spoon. Mix with the yogurt.

Combine ginger, garlic crushed to a paste with the salt, chilli powder, paprika and garam masala. Mix into the yoghurt and rub all over the chickens. Leave for 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (450 degrees F). Put ghee in a roasting pan and put chickens in the pan breast downwards. Spoon melted ghee over the birds and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the chickens over on one side, roast for 10 minutes then turn on the other side and allow a further 10 minutes. Turn the breasts upwards for a final few minutes, basting well with melted ghee. Serve hot with naan or parathas and onion salad.

Note: A rotisserie oven or grill is useful for cooking the chickens, but basting is still necessary. To cook on a barbecue, light the fire 1 hour beforehand and allow time for it to burn down to glowing coals. Cut chickens in halves down the centre and place on a rack above the coals. Cook until tender, turning so they cook through.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)