Chicken with Black Spices and a Saffron and Cardamom Yogurt

Sanjay Dwivedi cooks his spicy alternative to the infamous Indian high street offering of bright red chicken tikka
By Sanjay Dwivedi
Chicken with Black Spices and a Saffron and Cardamom Yogurt
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Effort: medium


  • 4 chicken breasts

For the tamarind chutney

  • 200 g tamarind, (see cooks note below)
  • 100 g jaggery, (see cook's note below)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 litres water
  • pinches of ground ginger
  • pinches of black salt, (see cooks note below)

For the black spice masala

  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 whole star anise
  • 3-4 black cardamom

For marinade 1

  • 10 g peeled ginger
  • 10 g peeledcloves garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 6 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 5 g black spice masala, (see above)

For marinade 2

  • 100 g thick yogurt
  • 1 medium green chilli, finely chopped
  • 30 g squid ink
  • 5 g black spice masala, (see above)
  • 30 g tamarind chutney, (see above)

For the saffron and green cardamom yoghurt

  • pinches strands saffron
  • green cardamom
  • 100 g yogurt
  • 100 g mayonnaise

To serve

  • green salad
  • dressing made with olive oil, white wine vinegar and a little tamarind chutney
  • sesame seeds, toasted

Tips and Suggestions

Tamarind is a sweet/sour ingredient, derived from the pods of the tamarind tree. It comes in a variety of forms, from dried pulp to a concentrated paste or puree.

Jaggery, also known as palm sugar, is a hard brown sugar, derived from the coconut palm.

Black salt (known as Kala Namak or Sanchal in Hindi) is a special type of Indian volcanic rock salt, with a distinctive sulphurous mineral taste, rather like hard-boiled
egg yolks.

All of these ingredients can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket or from Asian markets.


1. For the tamarind chutney: in a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the ground ginger and black salt. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour 30 minutes.

2. Pass through a sieve. Stir in the ground ginger and black salt.

3. For the black spice masala: preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.

4. Spread the spices on a baking tray and gently roast until they release an aromatic aroma. Blend the spices in a coffee grinder until finely ground and store in an air tight container.

5. For marinade 1: puree the ginger, garlic and chilli to a paste with the olive oil. Add the lemon juice, black spice masala and a pinch of salt. Rub this mixture into the chicken morsels and leave to marinate for 2 hours.

6. For marinade 2: stir the ingredients into the marinating chicken and marinate for at least another 6 hours or, better still, over night.

7. For the saffron and cardamom yogurt: put the saffron and cardamom pods in a small saucepan with a little water and boil until the water has reduced and the saffron has released its colour and flavour.

8. Combine the yoghurt and mayonnaise in a bowl and stir through the saffron-infused water.

9. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 or preheat a grill to hot.

10. Thread the chicken onto skewers and cook in the oven or under a hot grill until cooked through.

11. Serve with saffron and cardamom yogurt and a green salad and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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