In a new F&W Cooks video, Nik Sharma demonstrates how to make roast chicken with cilantro-mint chutney.

By Bridget Hallinan
April 27, 2020
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In his F&W Cooks essay, cookbook author Nik Sharma writes about how green chutney can be “much more than a condiment on the edge of a plate." It can flavor raitas, roasted vegetables, and even the marinade for a roast chicken, which he demonstrates in a new episode (filmed from home!) of F&W Cooks.

The easy recipe only has a few steps and can be adapted based on what ingredients you have on hand—for example, Nik uses cayenne pepper instead of a jalapeño pepper, and opts for chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. While he cooks, he provides several helpful tips, too (roll those limes!). Read on for his guidelines.

Start with the Herbs

Nik grabs one bunch of mint leaves and one bunch of cilantro for the chutney. He notes to keep the stems on, as they can be used for flavor, and there’s no need to waste them.

Don’t Worry if You Can’t Find Jalapeño

Nik explains that he had trouble finding fresh jalapeños and green chiles at the grocery store, so instead, he substitutes in cayenne pepper—1/2 a teaspoon, since he likes the chutney slightly hot, but not too hot.

Make the Chutney

Add the herbs, 1/4 cup of chilled water, one teaspoon of salt, and two tablespoons of fresh lime juice to a blender. To juice the lime, Nik recommends rubbing it gently on the cutting board first, which will help crush the cells inside. Then, cut it in half and squeeze the juice directly into the blender. Together with the cold water, the juice will help prevent the herbs from turning too black, too soon, he explains.

Next up is 1/2 teaspoon of cumin—you can use whole or ground, like Nik does. And add in the cayenne pepper as well.

Start by Blending Slowly

Nik recommends starting the blending with a low speed and then gradually progressing to a high speed, so everything gets a chance to blitz. The end result should be smooth and green. Once it’s done, open with caution—when you're blending fresh chiles, Nik says you shouldn't take a whiff. (He learned this the hard way.) In this case, it won’t be as bad because he used cayenne instead.

Divide the Chutney

Split the chutney into two even parts. One part will go into yogurt for the chicken marinade, while the other will be reserved for serving.

Prepare the Chicken

Nik’s recipe typically calls for a whole chicken separated into drumsticks, thighs, and breasts, but he couldn’t get a whole roast chicken, so he ends up using pre-cut chicken thighs in the video instead. (It saves a little time, so it works great, he notes.) Take each thigh and make a few incisions in the meat with a knife (Nik does two on his smaller chicken thighs), about 3/4-inch deep—make sure not to go all the way through. This increases surface area and helps the chicken cook faster, along with getting the flavor molecules from the marinade to come into the meat and meet the surface of the chicken.

Make the Marinade

Nik takes half the chutney and folds it into two cups of plain unsweetened yogurt, along with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add a little extra salt, too—when you make a marinade, Nik says salt helps flavor the meat and tenderize it.

Let the Chicken Sit

Put the chicken in a deep tray and pour the marinade on top, covering the dish and letting it sit for at least two hours in the refrigerator. About 30 minutes before you cook, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake It

Nik says you’ll need at least two baking sheets to cook the chicken. Line them with aluminum foil (this makes for easy cleanup), and then, place wire racks on top of each. Divide the chicken between the two sheets and bake it for an hour and 10 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. The chicken should come out golden-brown, with a few caramelized spots.

Cool and Serve

Let the chicken cool for a few minutes before serving (you can tent it to preserve moisture), and grab the other reserved chutney. Serve it in a bowl with the chicken and enjoy. The chicken would be great with rice or flatbread.