This is the most indulgent, lip-smackingly delicious chicken preparation I’ve ever shared on the blog. It is an old family favorite. In fact, mom prepares chicken this way most of the time. Chicken roast refers to a method of cooking rather than any special recipe or ingredient list. It is different from a regular chicken curry in that water or any other liquid is used very sparingly and the meat is almost entirely cooked in its own juices. Once done, the succulent spice-coated chicken pieces are slowly roasted in the hot pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom (“fond”, as it is referred to in culinary terms). The result is dark, spicy, delicious chicken coated with all the lovely flavors.
Like I said, the ingredient list is pretty straight-forward. We begin by browning some finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic, then add the spices and chicken. A handful of curry leaves adds such a wonderful flavor to the chicken while it is cooking in its own juices.
In our house, this recipe was referred to simply as “chicken“. Whenever mom said we were having chicken for dinner, she meant this dish only. That left me in a conundrum on how to title this blog post. I asked mom herself and we had a lovely long discussion on what to call it. It is different from a Kerala style chicken roast because no tomatoes are used in this recipe. It is not an authentic Tamil Chettinad style preparation because only cumin (jeerakam), and not fennel seeds (perum jeerakam) are used. It is very popular in certain parts of southern Tamil Nadu which is our native, and doesn’t have a special name as far as I know. So we decided to christen it “Spicy Chicken Roast”. Let’s call it Mom’s Spicy Chicken Roast, shall we?!
This was one of the very first recipes I ever learned to make on my own. As a teenager, I also learned to clean and cut chicken for this recipe. A cut up small bird, bones and all, is the best thing to use here. If you cannot use a whole chicken, make sure to at least use bone-in thigh pieces. Boneless pieces or white meat alone will not give the best flavor.
Chicken roast is best prepared in a wide, thick-bottomed metal pot. This ensures good browning of the masala and meat, and gives you room to stir and scrape every last bit of spicy goodness. I have an old aluminum kadai that I never use nowadays (obviously because of all the studies regarding aluminum and cooking), but I decided to bring it out just once more. A large Dutch oven will work fine if that’s all you have.
Serve this chicken roast with hot rice and some curry like a simple dal (lentil curry) or with rotis and raita. I also love to eat this with dosas and idlis. When I was a kid, mom used to mix rice with the masala stuck to the pan and the resulting oily masala rice was absolutely delicious! As with any Indian dish, the leftovers are amazing and probably taste even better. So, make a large batch , will you?
- Oil - 4 tbsp
- Whole spices - 1" piece cinnamon, 3 cloves, 2 cardamom pods, a small piece of mace
- REd onions - 3 large, finely chopped
- Ginger - 2 tbsp, chopped
- Garlic - 6-8 cloves, minced
- Green chilies - 3, chopped
- Curry leaves - 2 sprigs, divided
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Red chili powder - 1 tsp
- Coriander powder - 2 tsp
- Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
- Chicken - 3 lbs, skinless and bone-in, cut into medium-sized pieces
- Salt - to taste
- Cumin powder - ½ tsp, lightly roasted
- Cracked black pepper - 1-2 tsp
- Lime - 1
- Heat oil in a large thick-bottomed pan like a kadai or Dutch oven. Add the whole spices, let them sputter and become fragrant.
- Then add onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies and the leaves from one sprig of curry leaves. Saute on medium-high heat till onions are nicely browned. This will take 10-15 minutes, keep stirring every now and then so that nothing sticks to the bottom or burns.
- Now add turmeric, red chili, coriander and garam masala powders. Stir well and saute for 30 seconds.
- Tip in the chicken pieces. Mix the chicken well with the masala so that all the chicken pieces are well-coated with the masala. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring 2-3 times in between.
- Season with salt, sprinkle a little bit of water and cover the pan. Cook on low heat till chicken is done, another 15-20 minutes. Check in between to see if anything is sticking to the bottom of the pan. If so, sprinkle some more water and stir the chicken pieces around.
- Once chicken is tender and you see oil separated around the sides, add the leaves from the second sprig of curry leaves. Increase the heat slightly and roast the chicken pieces in the oil. You are looking to get a nice sear on the pieces and reduce the masala so that no liquid is left at all. Check and adjust seasoning.
- Sprinkle cumin powder and black pepper and stir to combine. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and remove from heat. Serve chicken roast hot with rice or rotis, raita and more lime wedges.
Juicy, succulent chicken in a spicy masala is all you need for a special family dinner. It is sure to please everyone.
Do try this spicy chicken roast the next time you crave an Indian curry. There is so much more to Indian food than curries and tandooris or tikkas, and this recipe is a nice way to explore more traditional regional cuisines.
So, tell me, do you have a special family recipe without a particular name? Have you tried South Indian chicken roast any time? Do you have any other way of making it? Do share.
Go here for more chicken recipes.
If you like this post, please follow this blog via Email to get post updates and also my Social Media pages (find subscription box on the right side of this page, or scroll down in mobile version). Thank you!