My Desi Spicy Chicken Roast

A few weeks ago I saw the very delectable Jamie Oliver cook up an Indian storm in his oven. He called it his Empire Roast Chicken. It looked deliciously succulent and charred with tendrils of smoke arising as Jamie sliced through it. I was ready to reach out for a drumstick when he placed the chicken pieces on a board. I knew then that I just had to make this Indian roast chicken for Sunday lunch. 

Thus, I set the husband in motion on a Saturday evening. He dutifully brought home a whole bird which I planned to marinate overnight.  As I was about to get my spices ready for the marinade, I looked up Jamie’s recipe for the roast on the net.  And just like that, I changed my mind. I am sure his Empire Roast Chicken would have tasted so much better, but my inability to follow recipes made me decide to roast my chicken in my own desi style. Perhaps my experience with cooking the herb-roasted chicken would come handy!

Later, as I went about toasting and grinding spices, adding a bit of this and a bit of that, I hoped with all my heart that the roast would be alright. But once the marinated chicken was placed inside the oven the next day and there ensued a heavenly aroma, I knew that I was on the right track. That mouthwatering aroma could only mean one thing – my recipe worked!

So, here is how I made Jamie Oliver’s chicken roast my way.

My Desi Spicy Chicken Roast

1 whole chicken with skin, giblets removed and preferably weighing between 1-1.5 kg
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon ginger juice
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh yoghurt
1 quartered lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Dry roast and grind to a coarse powder (preferably using mortar and pestle):

½ teaspoon each of jeera (cumin seeds), dhania (coriander seeds) and methi (fenugreek seeds), 2-3 dalchini (cinnamon sticks), 3-4 dry red chillies

Combine together and keep aside:

3-4 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves


Wash the chicken and pat dry. Keep aside till the marinade is ready.

For the marinade, combine the tomato sauce, turmeric powder, crushed garlic, ginger juice, lemon juice, yoghurt, salt and pepper along with the roasted-ground spice mixture. Now, apply this marinade thoroughly on the chicken, particularly below the skin and in the cavity. The skin separates easily from the chicken if you carefully insert your fingers and break the fatty layer. 

Push the softened butter and chopped coriander leaves evenly below the skin and inside the cavity, but take care not to break the delicate skin. Finally, shove in the quartered lemon in the cavity. 

Marinate the chicken preferably overnight in the fridge. 

Now, time to roast the birdie. Pre-heat the oven at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. In that period, rub a little salt over the skin, squirt a little lemon juice and slather some butter over the chicken. Place the chicken breast side up on a sliver foil-lined tray in the middle slot of the oven and roast for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, based on the size of the chicken. Take care to flip the chicken once it reaches the half hour mark and baste with the marinade and ensuing juices generously. I did not truss my chicken, but you are most welcome to do so. Don’t be lazy like me.

Once the hour is up, let the chicken sit for around 5-10 minutes before taking it out of the oven. By then, a pool of amazingly flavoured sauce would form below the chicken. Slice up the chicken, drizzle this dripping/sauce over the pieces and you can dig in right away!

My desi chicken roast turned out glorious golden, moist and a little charred in places – just as the one I had seen in Jamie’s kitchen. The buttery, coriander flavoured, spicy sauce with the freshness of lime added to the zing. The meat was meltingly tender and scrumptious. It was with tons of pride that I placed the chicken roast on our Sunday lunch table that day.

Thank you, Jamie Oliver, for inspiring my desi spicy chicken roast. We enjoyed it a lot!


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