Masala roasted chicken

Dieting or not, this is one of our favourite recipes. It’s mouth-wateringly good – the spicy marinade makes the meat really tender and full of flavour, while the yoghurt sauce sets it off a treat. Serve with our cumin-crusted vegetables for a proper spicy feast.

Masala roasted chicken

Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins


Prep time
30 minutes
Cooking time
50 minutes
320 per serving


  • 1.65kg chicken
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh watercress or baby leaf salad, for serving
  • Marinade:
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1–2 tsp hot chilli powder (the more you use, the spicier the dish)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 40g chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 100g low-fat natural yoghurt

Minted yoghurt sauce

  • 200g low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 2–3 tsp ready-made mint sauce
  • ½-1 tsp sugar, according to taste


  1. Spoon over the marinade and massage it into the chicken on both sides, ensuring that every bit of the bird is well coated – get your hands in there and really go for it. Cover the dish with some cling film and put the chicken in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours or, even better, overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 210°C/Fan 190°C/Gas 6½. Take the chicken out of the dish and place it on a rack inside a large baking tray, breast-side up. Squeeze over some juice from the lime and season with ground black pepper.

  3. Roast for 45–50 minutes until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked throughout, tossing the lime quarters on to the rack for the last 20 minutes to cook alongside. The limes will be good for squeezing over the meat later. Check that the chicken is properly cooked – the juices should run clear when you pierce the thickest part of a thigh with a skewer. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

  4. While the chicken is resting, make the sauce. Spoon the yoghurt into a serving bowl and stir in the mint sauce and sugar until thoroughly combined. Transfer the chicken to a plate or wooden board and carve into slices, discarding any skin if you're watching your weight. Serve with the sauce and a garnish or some watercress or salad and enjoy! To make the marinade, split the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Put the cardamom seeds in a dry non-stick frying pan and throw away the husks. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, the cloves and black peppercorns and place the pan over a medium heat. Cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring regularly until the spices are lightly toasted – you know they’re ready when you can smell their spicy aroma.

  5. Tip the toasted spices into a pestle and mortar, or an electric spice grinder, and pound to a fine powder. Transfer these ground spices to a mixing bowl and stir in the fenugreek, turmeric, paprika, chilli powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the garlic, ginger and yoghurt, then mix well and leave to stand while you prepare the chicken.

  6. Place the chicken on its breast on a sturdy chopping board and cut carefully along either side of the backbone with good scissors or poultry shears. Chuck out the bone and cut off the foot joints and wing tips. Strip all the skin off the bird apart from the ends of the wings (which are easier to remove after cooking). You’ll find this simpler to do if you snip the membrane between the skin and the chicken flesh as you go. Cut off and discard any obvious fat – it will be a creamy white colour. Open out the chicken and place it on the board so the breast side is facing upwards.

  7. Press down heavily with the palms of your hands to break the breastbone and flatten the chicken as evenly as possible. This will help it cook more quickly. Slash the meat with a knife through the thickest parts of the legs and breasts. Place the chicken in a shallow nonmetallic dish – a lasagne dish is ideal – and tuck in the legs and wings.