Saturday, December 22, 2012

Roast Chicken for a special Christmas lunch

Published in The Communique December 2012 issue.

“Christmas comes but only once a year,” goes the famous saying. Indeed, it is a special time of the year for many people all over the world. Homes are decked up with brightly lit Christmas trees and colourful ornaments. The streets echo with the sound of carols reverberating from people’s homes and harmonises in a way that brings cheer to the hearts of everyone.

Christmas brings out the best creativity in everyone. Everyone wants to have the most beautifully decorated home. Mothers are busy prepping their kitchen to make the most sumptuous Christmas lunch. And on the menu of almost every household is this star: Roast turkey.

Roast turkey is considered to be the traditional Christmas day lunch all over Europe and America. In India, it is catching up fast. Every family in my neighbourhood prepares it these days and each family has their own recipe.

Sometimes chicken is substituted instead of the turkey since the latter is quite expensive and in many cases too big to fit into ovens. Roast chicken is just as visually appealing and mouth-watering as turkey but cheaper and a quicker to cook. Chicken is also easily available when compared to turkey, which in Bangalore City, can only be purchased at markets like Shivajinagar.

The Christmas roast is perhaps the most desired treat on Christmas day. The recipes are as numerous as the lights on a Christmas tree. One of them, a personal favourite, is the Butter Roast Chicken Stuffed with Paneer and Herbs. The butter keeps the chicken juicy and the aroma from the herbs can make one’s stomach groan incessantly. The recipe is simple and the chicken can be prepped a day ahead to help the marinade soak in to enhance the flavour.

For the Roast Chicken you will need,
1 chicken, whole with skin
150 grams butter (the table butter you get at the grocers will do)
150 grams paneer
1 onion and garlic peeled
1 cup ground mint
1cup curd
2 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp coriander powder
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Take the chicken, clean and place in a large bowl sprinkle salt and pepper to it and leave it.
Take all the dry ingredients in a small bowl, add the curd, lemon juice, a little salt and mix them well to form a paste. Let the butter come to room temperature. Take a little bit of the paste and fold it with the butter. Apply this butter onto the chicken, especially under the skin of the chicken breast and thighs. Apply the rest of the paste to the chicken.

Cut the onion in half and along with the garlic; stuff them into the cavity of the chicken
Cut the paneer into cubes, mix them well with the ground mint and stuff them in the chicken too.
Wrap the chicken with aluminium foil or cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for not less than two hours. Preferably leave it in the fridge overnight.

When it is ready to cook, pre-heat the oven at 220 degree celcius, place the chicken in the oven for 10-15 minutes at that temperature. Remove the chicken and baste. Put the chicken back into the oven, this time at 180 degree celcius and let it cook for an hour per kilogram white basting every half hour.

After it is cooked, let it rest for a half hour before carving and serve. This can be served with a raitha of mint and cucumber. 

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