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Spatchcock ‘Jalfrezi’ Chicken Tray Bake

by Sarah Woods from Desi Kitchen

Leave the heavy lifting to the oven with this chicken jalfrezi traybake. By spatchcocking the chicken you can half the cooking time.

From the book

Sarah Woods


Jalfrezi is a very popular dish that hails from Bengal. Normally your chicken (or lamb, paneer, vegetables, etc.) would be stir-fried, in a thick and spicy sauce with peppers. We are going to let the oven do the heavy lifting here, however, with this one-tray wonder, made with a whole spatchcocked chicken. This technique halves the cooking time for a whole roast chicken, and with the addition of potatoes is a complete meal. You could also use chicken thighs in this recipe – simply adjust the cooking time – and shred any leftover chicken to make fajitas.

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1 (approx. 1.6kg) chicken
For the marinade:
100ml vegetable oil
30–40g ginger, roughly chopped
30–40g garlic, roughly chopped
30g fresh coriander, including the stalks
3–4 green finger chillies, slit in half lengthways
1 tbsp mild Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
For the sauce:
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
of the marinade
2 large red onions, cut into chunky dice
3 peppers (2 red, 1 yellow), cut into chunky dice
750g baby potatoes (optional)
½–1 tsp salt, or to taste


Make the marinade by blitzing the oil, ginger, garlic, coriander and chillies to a paste in a blender. Decant to a mixing bowl and stir in the rest of the marinade ingredients: chilli powder, garam masala, turmeric, salt and chilli flakes, cumin and coriander. Taste, and add more salt or chilli to your liking.

It’s really easy to spatchcock a chicken – all you need is a good set of kitchen scissors. Place the chicken breast side down on a chopping board. Using the ‘parson’s nose’ (the pointy bit) as a guide, cut along the backbone on either side (don’t discard this, as you can use it for stock). Having removed the backbone, flip the chicken over and open it out, gently using your body weight to flatten it down. Snip off any excess skin at both ends – this will allow you to get under the skin later on.

Smother the chicken all over with two-thirds of the marinade. Get into all the nooks and under the skin, especially under the breast. You may want to use disposable kitchen gloves. Pop the chicken into a suitable container, and ideally marinate it refrigerated overnight, though you can get away with a few hours. Allow to come to room temperature an hour before roasting.

Heat your oven to 200°C fan. Take a large deep roasting tray and tip in the tomatoes, the rest of the marinade, the onions, peppers and potatoes, if using (cut larger ones in half). Season with salt to taste – remember, potatoes are bland! Give everything a good stir. Place the chicken on top of the veggies, ensuring the potatoes are positioned at the edges of the tray so they can crisp up. Roast in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through and the juices run clear.

Lift the chicken off the roasting tray and on to a separate tray. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile return the veggies to the oven so they can all crisp up a little more. This will take around 15 minutes.

Serve with a green salad. I can’t resist a little crusty bread to dunk into the sauce, though Bengalis would definitely have this with plain rice.


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From the book: Desi Kitchen

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