Garam Masala-Crusted Chicken with Fig Jus

At DeWolf Tavern in Bristol, Rhode Island, Sai Viswanath prepares everything from cauliflower to lobster in his wood-fired tandoor oven, which imparts a slightly smoky flavor. In contrast, for the American home cook, Viswanath developed this crispy cumin-and-coriander-spiced chicken, roasted in a Western-style oven. In another departure from Indian tradition, Viswanath cooks the bird whole instead of in pieces.


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  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon garam masala (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Two 3 1/2-pound chickens
  • Salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (see Note)
  • 4 dried Black Mission figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Freshly ground pepper

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, mix the garam masala with the oil. In a roasting pan, rub the chickens all over with the garam masala oil and season with salt. Roast the chickens for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting twice. Return the oven temperature to 450° and crisp. Transfer the chickens to a carving board and let them rest for about 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the garlic and tamarind paste and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the garlic is very soft, about 40 minutes. Strain the stock through a coarse sieve and press the garlic through. Stir in the figs and honey, cover and let steep until the figs are tender, about 10 minutes.

  3. Carve the chicken. Reheat the fig jus, season with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.


Tamarind paste is available at Latin, Asian and Indian markets and specialty food shops. To make Viswanath's recipe for garam masala, go here.

Suggested Pairing

Grenache is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world, so, not surprisingly, it's known by different names in different places—Garnacha in Spain, Cannonau in Sardinia. No matter where it's grown, though, its sweet cherry flavor and modest tannins pair well with this complexly spiced chicken.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published January 2006

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