Fragrant Indian Roast Chicken with Saffron Onions

4 - 6



  • 1.5kg chicken
  • 2 tsp Simon Gault Home Cuisine Indian seasoning
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • good pinch saffron threads, soaked in 2 Tbsp warm water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Banana and Coconut Raita

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut, toasted
  • pinch of salt


Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Combine the Indian seasoning, cardamom seeds, ginger, garlic, salt and lemon zest with the yoghurt. Work your fingers gently between the flesh and skin over the chicken breasts without tearing, then rub the yoghurt mixture under the skin and all over the bird. If you like, you can place some extra cardamom, a few curry leaves and extra garlic inside the cavity.

Place the chicken in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as possible (preferably overnight).

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the chicken in a shallow oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for 40 minutes.

For the raita, slice the banana and toss gently in a bowl with the lemon juice. Add the yoghurt and fold in the coconut (the coconut can be toasted in the microwave for a minute). Season with a little salt to taste and refrigerate until needed.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat and gently cook the onion for 10 minutes without browning. Add the soaked saffron and its water and continue to cook for about 5 minutes more until the liquid almost evaporates. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the oven to 180˚C and spread the onion on top of the chicken, mostly on the breast area.

Continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken (cook to an internal temperature of 62°C, or test by wiggling one of the legs; it should move easily when cooked).

Rest the chicken for 10 minutes, then serve with Indian spiced roast pumpkin purée and the banana and coconut raita.

Reprinted from Simon Gault Modern Classics, Penguin Group (NZ), new release September 2014. Text © Simon Gault, 2014.