Chicken Ghee Roast Recipe

Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe

Ghee is one of those things that you cannot have enough of. It's made in most Indian homes with the cream that emerges from the top of a freshly boiled pot of milk. The cream is traditionally skimmed off the surface of a cooled pot of milk then stored, until there's enough collected to make a batch that will last a few weeks. But ghee can also be procured more easily in markets, and added to many delicious creations. Like this Manglorean Chicken Ghee Roast.

'Roast' is a word used quite loosely in the south of India. It means more braising than actually sticking the meat into an oven. There are a host of 'roast' dishes using prawns, lamb, and pork and each one deserves complete attention.

While most Indian recipes start with the frying of spices in the fat before adding the meat, this dish braises the chicken first and adds the spices into the same pot to cook slowly and coat each tender morsel.

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.

Recipe Details

Chicken Ghee Roast Recipe

Active 40 mins
Total 3 hrs
Serves 2 servings


  • 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
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  • 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. 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. 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. 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.