Masala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce

Dieting or not, masala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce is one of our favourite recipes. It’s mouth-wateringly good and the spicy marinade makes the meat really tender and full of flavour, while the yoghurt sauce sets it off a treat. To prepare this recipe you do actually need quite a few ingredients, so that’s the main part basically: collecting all of them. The method it’s quite simple, though you need a little patience, as the sauce requires some time and so does the chicken, which needs to stay in the oven for over an hour. Of course you can skip some ingredients if you don’t like them: some may not like coriander, others could dislike cumin, so the ingredients below are my personal version of masala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE MARINADEmasala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce
6 cardamom pods
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground fenugreek
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 tablespoon hot chilli powder (the more you use, the spicier the dish)
¼ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flaked sea salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
40g/1½oz piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
100g/3½oz low-fat natural yoghurt

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHICKEN
1.65kg/3lb 8oz chicken
1 lime, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh watercress or baby leaf salad, to serve

INGREDIENTS FOR THE YOGHURT SAUCE
200g/7oz low-fat natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon ready-made mint sauce

DIRECTIONS
Let’s see how to make masala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce. To prepare the marinade, split the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Put the cardamom seeds in a dry non-stick frying pan and discard the husks. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, 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 the spicy aroma.

Tip the toasted spices into a pestle and mortar, or an electric spice grinder, and pound to a fine powder. Transfer 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. Place the chicken on its breast on a sturdy chopping board and cut carefully 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. 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 breast. Place the chicken in a shallow non-metallic dish – a lasagne dish is ideal – and tuck in the legs and wings.

Spoon over the marinade and really massage it into the chicken on both sides, ensuring that every bit of bird is well coated – get your hands in there and really go for it. Cover the dish with cling film and put the chicken in the fridge to marinate for at least four hours or ideally overnight. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. 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.

Roast for 1-1¼ hours 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 chicken. They’ll be good for squeezing over the meat later. The juices should run clear when the thickest part of one of the thighs is pierced with a skewer. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. While the chicken is resting, make the sauce. Spoon the yoghurt into a serving bowl and stir in the mint sauce until thoroughly combined. Transfer the chicken to a plate or wooden board and carve into slices, discarding any skin. Serve with the sauce and some watercress or salad and enjoy a well deserved masala marinated chicken with yoghurt sauce!

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