"One of my favorite dishes in the book, this recipe comes from my friend Roopa Gulati. Her mom used to make it. It is actually very simple to cook—it’s just spiced roast chicken with dressed potatoes—but it is satisfying on every level. It looks like a painting when you set it on the table (all those dark colors); has contrasting flavors (slightly bitter turmeric beside sweet dates); and is an Indian dish that has a fairly limited ingredients list, so it’s not time-consuming to make. You ideally need fresh turmeric, which looks like a skinny, brightly colored ginger root. You’ll find it in larger supermarkets and Asian markets. If you can’t find it, use 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric instead, though it doesn’t make a paste." - Diana Henry, author of A Bird in the Hand: Chicken Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood
- 1 ½-inch piece fresh turmeric
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 3 red chiles, chopped
- 3 Ounces galangal or ginger root, peeled and chopped
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- ¼ Cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1½ Teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
- 1 chicken (3 pounds and 5 ounces total)
- 2 limes, halved
- Small bunch of Thai basil (or mint)
- ½ Cup chicken stock (optional)
The day before, peel the turmeric and coarsely chop it (best to wear disposable gloves; that yellow color stains everything). Remove the coarse outer layers of the lemongrass and trim the top and base. Chop the rest—the softer part of the lemongrass—as finely as you can. Combine the turmeric and lemongrass with the chiles, the galangal, and salt. Blend in a food processor or blender with the vinegar and oil and add the cracked pepper.
Make slashes in the chicken on its breasts and legs with a small sharp knife. Wearing gloves, rub the paste all over the chicken, pushing it into the slashes and inside the bird, too. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before cooking. Truss the bird, if you like, since it does make it look neat.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stuff the cavity with 3 lime halves and the Thai basil (or mint), squeezing the remaining lime half over the bird. Roast in the oven for 1¼ hours. Three-quarters of the way through the cooking time, add the stock or the same amount of water to the pan, scraping the sediment off the bottom to mix in with the liquid.
Serve the chicken with the juices from the pan.