1 t. saffron threads
3 T. boiling water
2 chickens, 2-1/2-3 lbs. each, cut up
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
4 t. salt
2 t. coriander seeds
1 t. cumin seeds
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, scraped and coarsely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 c. plain yogurt
1/2 t. red food coloring (optional>
1/4 t. ground hot red pepper
2 T. butter, melted

1. Drop the saffron threads into a small bowl or cup, pour in the boiling water, and soak for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pat the chickens completely dry with paper towels. With a small, sharp knife cut 2 slits about 1/2inch deep and 1 inch long in thighs and breasts. Mix the lemon juice with the salt and rub them over the chickens, pressing the mixture deeply into the slits. Place the chickens in a large, deep casserole, pour the saffron and its soaking water over them, and let them marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3. Sprinkle the coriander and cumin seeds in a small ungreased skillet and, shaking the pan constantly, toast them over moderate heat for a minute or so. Then drop the seeds in the jar of an electric blender or a processor, add the ginger, garlic and 2 T. yogurt, and blend at high speed until the mixture is reduced to a smooth paste. With a rubber spatula, scrape the paste into a mixing bowl. Stir in all of the remaining yogurt, the food coloring and the red hot pepper.

4. Spread the yogurt masala evenly over the chickens, cover the casserole with a lid or foil, and marinate for 12 hours or overnight at room temperature, or for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.

5. To roast in the oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange the chicken on a rack in a shallow roasting pan large enough to hold them comfortably. Pour any liquid that has accumulated in the casserole over the chicken and coat each one with melted butter. Roast, uncovered, in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 , and continue roasting the birds undisturbed for one hour more. To test the chicken for doneness, pierce the thigh with the point of a small, sharp knife. The juice that runs out should be pale yellow; if it is still tinged with pink, roast the chicken for another 5-10 minutes.

OR (instead of number 5 above) Cook the chicken on a greased grill over white, hot coals, basting with the juices left in the marinating bowl, and turning when necessary. If you have a hooded barbeque, use the hood to increase the nice, smoky flavor. The chicken will be done in 30-45 minutes.

6. Serve the chickens on a platter, traditionally garnished with thinly sliced onions, quartered tomatoes, radishes, quartered lemons. Serves 6-8

Based on a recipe from "The Cooking of India", Time-Life





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