We Do Nice Things with Roast Chicken Here

Of barely-kept promises and spice-roasted poultry


When you’re single, envious of your married friends, self un-assured and plummeting towards 30 like nobody’s business, you start making promises to yourself. About your future no less. Yep. You have very little clue where you are in your present, but nevertheless, you make promises about your future. The word you’re looking for is “optimism”.

When it’s late enough in the night and you find yourself tossing and turning on your bed trying to find a cool spot on your pillow, or you’re hungry enough to constantly keep opening up the refrigerator door as if something suitable to eat would magically pop up any second — that’s when those promises show up at the forefront of your mind. And they refuse to go away till either you resort to counting imaginary sheep, or till you’re distracted by something smothered in chocolate or by someone with an invite to the latest bistro (apparently) in town. Oh, but I’m rambling.

I made myself a few promises, quite a while ago, notably while eating greasy strands of bacon over the sink at midnight after returning from work. It was cold and damp like most English evenings, the house was as quiet as death and it was a quick dinner after a long day.

The promises were or are not anything too life-changing. Inspirational maybe, but not life-changing. Actually, come to think of it, I think they were born out of a grumbling stomach and an empty refrigerator at an ungodly hour:

- Any home I occupy ever will never be devoid of dark chocolate and,
- Saturday Biryani is always going to be a thing. And it will be never anything less than Sunday Roast.
- There will always be a roast chicken in the refrigerator to pick meals off of.

You may be happy or unhappy to know that I’ve failed miserably at keeping every one of the three promises. I have occupied plenty of homes in my lifetime so far, and have found my pantry devoid of dark chocolate numerous times. This has led to a lot of cursing and finger-pointing, especially when I was craving brownies or something resembling the same. I have forgotten many a Saturday Biryani and opted for cold 6-inchers from Subway instead. And a roasted chicken daily, as you can, imagine has been virtually impossible to get around to. I can barely even manage to roast any in a month.

I haven’t thought of those promises in a long time. That’s the best thing about the blog, I suppose. That’s the best thing about you and what you inspire me to do. Every time I come here, I feel I’m coming back to a repository of memories, ones that I love to visit and re-visit over and over again.

And the memories are like chapters. Sometimes they end abruptly. Sometimes they’re like pretty girls…the ones you like to stare at but not do anything about. And others may lead you to the next chapter or to something completely new and different, something that you didn’t expect to remember at all. You like to turn those memories this way and that, trying to understand why you’d forgotten them in the first place. They might turn out to be disappointing memories or happy ones. Sometimes you’re glad that you remembered and sometimes you’re not. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll almost always hope that the memories revolve around family and friends and food.

And I’m glad that a few of them involve roasted chicken. They make me want to re-promise myself about dark chocolate and Saturday Biryani. They make me want to get off my arse and roast a ton of chicken. They also make me want to re-promise that my first-born will be named Siya if it’s a girl and Abhimanyu if it’s a boy.

Happy weekend, you lot!

Fenugreek Roasted Chicken Thighs

Note on fenugreek: I use dried fenugreek leaves in this recipe because they pack a serious flavour punch. Fresh leaves are not that effective and might be difficult to find outside of India. Dried leaves are sold as kasoori methi in packets or boxes at Indian grocery stores.

Ingredients:
10 chicken thighs, organic is best, skin off though
1/2 cup of yogurt
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
Oil, to flash fry the thighs [canola, sunflower or groundnut will do]
1/4 cup of dried fenugreek leaves [kasoori methi, see note above]
1/2 cup of chili flakes
Salt, to taste
Olive oil, to drizzle over while roasting
Roasted baby potatoes, steamed rice or salad, to serve with

How-To:
In a large bowl, coat the chicken pieces with yogurt, garlic and ginger paste. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re pressed for time, 2 hours marination times will work as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Shake the excess marinade off the chicken thighs but retain the marinade that’s collected at the bottom of the bowl. Fry the chicken thigh in the hot oil till they caramelize. You may need to do this in batches of 2 or 3, otherwise the pieces will just stew instead of crisping up. Fluctuate the heat between high and medium depending on how quickly the oil browns. You may also need to top up the oil in the skillet between cooking the chicken. I find that covering the skillet while the chicken in frying helps in preventing splatters and spitting oil. On medium-high heat, frying the thighs for 45 seconds on each side works just fine.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and lay the chicken thighs on it. Pour over the remaining marinade in the bowl. Sprinkle the kasoori methi, chilli flakes and salt, over the chicken. Drizzle some olive oil over the chickens, as well, to help the roasting process along.

Roast for 40-45 minutes or till the juices run clear. You want the chicken to be white when pierced at it’s thickest part. I don’t normally turn the pieces while roasting, but one of my friends preferred to do that during the halfway mark. Serve hot with rice or roasted potatoes and a fresh salad.


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