Whole Roast Masala Chicken

This image courtesy of David Loftus

Love has been compared to the scent of roses, but I think the smell of a roast chicken is much more romantic. I am crazy about this chicken dish, which came to my kitchen via my friend Raoul and really is the best of both worlds: the classic Western roast chicken and some of the best flavors India has to offer. The toasted sweet spices dance around the almonds and make it a real treat to eat. It's also fantastic for leftovers, if there are any. As with all marinades, this one works best when left alone to do its thing for a decent length of time. I marinate the chicken for at least an hour, but you can marinate it for up to 12 hours for maximum flavor.


Cooking Methodroasting


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturesavory, spiced


  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 3/4 level teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 large chicken (around 3 1/2 pounds)


  1. Put the cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a dry frying pan over a high heat until the coriander seeds turn from meadow green to a lightly toasted golden color. Tip the toasted spices into a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, and peppercorns, and grind together. Put them into a big bowl and add the ground almonds, turmeric, yogurt, and salt.

  2. Bash the onion and garlic to a pulp with a small pinch of salt, then add this to the bowl and mix thoroughly.

  3. Get an oven dish big enough to hold the chicken in, and line the dish with foil. Make a small slit at the bottom of the chicken breast on both sides, then rub some of the spice marinade between the skin and flesh, getting into the nooks and crannies. Don't be shy now. Rub the rest of the marinade all over the chicken. Cover with foil and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

  4. When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400°F.

  5. When the oven is hot, cover the chicken loosely with foil (so that the marinade does not burn) and cook for 1 hour. Remove the foil after an hour and cook for another 20 minutes to brown it nicely on top. Check that the chicken is done by piercing a thigh with a knife and making sure that the juices run clear.

  6. Serve with my ferrari potatoes and spinach with black pepper, garlic, and lemon.


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