Tandoori roasted pistachio chicken

Add toasted pistachio paste after roasting to reach new heights with this Indian favourite
By Gary Rhodes
Tandoori roasted pistachio chicken
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus 20 mins marinating
  • Effort: medium


  • 1 small chicken, skin removed
  • 1 tsp flakes sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 cm ginger, very finely grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar

For the pistachio paste

  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 75 g skinned pistachio nuts, coarsely ground
  • 2 tbsp rose water
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, yolk only, mashed
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped, with seeds
  • 40 g paneer, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the yogurt mixture

  • 100 ml Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

To serve

  • 1/4 lemons, juice only
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp carom seeds, (ajwain), ground
  • 1 tbsp pure ghee, available in cans from specialist stores


1. Using a sharp knife, make deep incisions all over the chicken, across the breast, legs and back - right through to the bone.

2. Combine the salt, chilli powder and grated ginger and rub this paste into the slashes. Spoon the lemon juice and vinegar evenly all over the chicken. Leave on one side for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 8.

4. Remove the chicken from its lemony juices and pat dry to remove excess moisture.

5. For the yogurt mixture: season the yogurt with the salt, garam masala and chilli powder and use to rub all over the chicken. Put the chicken on a rack and set in a roasting tin.

6. Cook the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes until half-done. Remove and leave to cool slightly. While it's roasting, make the spiced pistachio nut paste

7. For the pistachio paste: heat a small, sturdy frying pan over a moderate heat and lightly toast the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds - until they give off a lovely toasted aroma. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the seeds to a powder.

8. Add the powdered cumin to the coarsely ground pistachio nuts and stir in the rose water, hard-boiled egg yolks, chopped green chilli, grated paneer and the salt. Combine everything until smooth.

6. Quarter the chicken, then using your fingers, spread the pistachio mixture over the chicken portions, pushing it into the incisions, and return to the oven for around 10-15 minutes. (You can also leave the chicken whole, but it will need a little longer in the oven. It is ready when the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a sharp knife.)

7. To serve: serve the chicken straight away, drizzled with lemon juice and finished with a sprinkling of rock salt and carom seed powder. Brush over some ghee to glaze the chicken.

About Manjit Gill
With over three decades of culinary experience behind him, Manjit Gill has made cooking his lifes passion. He has specialised in European and north Indian cuisine. In January 2007, he received a Life Time Achievement national award from the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. He currently works as a corporate chef for the luxury hotel company, ITC WelcomGroup.

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