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Chicken with Spiced Yogurt Marinade

This tangy marinade contrasts the perfume of saffron with the piquancy of lemon juice and garlic. Popular in Central Asia (especially Iran and Afghanistan), it works particularly well with lamb and chicken.

Plus: More Grilling Recipes and Tips

  • Servings: 8

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  • 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (lightly packed) saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Two 3 1/2-pound chickens, each cut into eight pieces


  1. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron and cinnamon. Stir well to blend.
  2. Place the chicken pieces in a large glass or ceramic dish and pour the marinade on top. Let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Light a grill. Cook the chicken pieces over a medium-hot fire, turning often, until lightly charred on both sides and just cooked through, about 10 minutes per side.


Variation To use this marinade for lamb, simply substitute 1 whole butterflied leg of lamb (4 pounds) for the chicken pieces.

Suggested Pairing

The yogurt marinade adds tang to the grilled chicken. Showcase the flavors with a round, ripe California Chardonnay.

Contributed By Published June 1999

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