Chicken Ghee Roast

[Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe]

Note: Ghee is clarified butter and is usually made in Indian homes.
Don't be alarmed by the amount of ghee used; this is one of those indulgent dishes that depends solely on the fat used and should not be substituted with any other oil.
The longer you marinate the chicken, the more tender it will be when cooked.

About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & advertising creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.

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Chicken Ghee Roast

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 2
Active time:40 minutes
Total time:At least 3 hours and up to 2 days
This recipe appears in: Beyond Curry: Chicken Ghee Roast


  • For Marinating:
  • 1/2 cup thick yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 whole chicken leg quarters (about 2 pounds total skinned
  • For Spice Paste:
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or Indian clarified butter (divided)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 6 Kashmiri chillis (or small green Thai chilis)
  • 1 tablespoon corriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 cup water


  1. 1

    For Marinating: In a large bowl, mix yoghurt, lime juice, turmeric, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly. Seal the bowl with cling film and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

  2. 2

    For the Spice Paste: When ready to cook, heat 2 teaspoons ghee in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, chills, corriander seeds, fenugreek, and cumin, and cook, stirring consantly, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove spices and allow mixture to cool. Transfer to a blender, small food processor, or mortar and pestle, and grind into a fine paste.

  3. 3

    Heat remaining ghee in the same cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Let excess marinade drip from chicken, then gently slide into the ghee and fry until lighty browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Make a clearing in the middle of the pan between the chicken and add the spice paste. Stir in that space until fragrant, about 5 minutes, before coating the chicken. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook until chicken is fully cooked and most of the water has dried out, about 10 minutes. Serve hot with white rice or bread.

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