Saffron-Spiced Whole Roast Chicken
Saffron-Spiced Whole Roast Chicken

Saffron-Spiced Whole Roast Chicken

Saffron has long exerted its influence across regions of India: it’s a staple ingredient not just in curries and biryanis but also in tandoori cooking. The spiced yoghurt and almond marinade coats the chicken, infusing the meat. The chicken is then basted with the saffron-flavoured ghee or butter as it cooks all the way through to keep the whole bird moist, lend even more flavour and give everything a wonderful golden colour.
Photography: ISSY CROKER

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Total Time
3 Hours 20 Minutes
1 tsp of saffron strands
200g of ghee or butter
1.9kg whole chicken
For the marinade
220g of Greek yoghurt
3 tsp of ground almonds
2 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp of ground cardamom
½ tsp of ground cinnamon
8 garlic cloves, ground to a paste
5 cm ginger root, ground to a paste
Salt, to taste
Step 1

In a mixing bowl, crush the saffron strands, add the ghee or butter and mix well. Divide this saffron ghee between two bowls. Set one bowl aside to use for basting the chicken during roasting.

Step 2

Place the chicken on a large plate and, starting at the neck end, ease the skin away from the flesh. Spread the saffron ghee from the second bowl under and over the skin.

Step 3

In a separate bowl, combine the yoghurt, almonds, chilli powder, cardamom, cinnamon, garlic and ginger pastes. Season to taste. Spread this marinade over the chicken and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan (400°F/Gas 6). Line a roasting tray with foil and place a wire rack over the tray. Sit the chicken breast side up on the wire rack. The tray will collect all the juices from the chicken as it cooks. Place the tray in the hot oven and roast the chicken for 45 minutes.

Step 5

Baste the chicken with the reserved saffron ghee, then turn the chicken over so it is breast side down and continue to roast for a further 50 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through and the juices are running clear, turn off the oven. Transfer the chicken to a large serving plate. As you lift the chicken, let any juices from the cavity pour into the roasting tray – you can use these juices to make a light gravy. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.

Step 6

Carve the chicken and arrange the pieces on a serving platter. Serve warm with spiced vegetables or salads.

Recipe courtesy of Tandoori Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan (Hardie Grant, £25) Photography ©Issy Croker.

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