“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.”
– Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

This steam roasted tamarind chicken is a weight watcher’s delight, as steam roasting keeps the chicken moist and succulent without adding any form of fat to it.

Sweet and sour tamarind sauce is one of my most favourite marinades, it takes the dish to a whole new level.

In this recipe the sour of tamarind and yogurt are balanced by the sweet of caramelised onions and brown sugar. The result is a lip smacking sauce. Enjoy without guilt!


1 whole chicken cut into four pieces
3 tablespoons dried mature tamarind pods (imli)
1 cup yogurt
2 medium onions, chopped
1 inch piece ginger
1+1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

This Is What You Do:

Wash and immerse tamarind in 2 cups warm water for 20 minutes. Remove the stones when the skin softens.

Caramelise onions in 2 tablespoons oil, take them out of the oil but save the oil for later use. Add tamarind pulp and water, onions, yogurt, ginger, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, brown sugar and cumin into an electric blender, blend till a smooth paste forms.

Marinate chicken pieces in the tamarind mix for at least 1/2 hour or you can do this a day ahead and refrigerate the chicken till you need to cook the next day.

Heat a food steamer, place the chicken pieces in the steamer. Save the marinade. Steam chicken for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Avoid removing the cover to the pot during the cooking process. This will allow heat and steam to escape, resulting in extended cooking time.

To steam roast chicken in the oven, place your chicken into a roasting pan with a lid. Place the lid on your roasting pan, or arrange 3 or 4 sheets of tin foil over the chicken, sealing it in the pan.

You want to keep the steam in with the chicken. This is what cooks the chicken and gives it it’s special texture. Bake for 1 to 1+1/2 hours,or till the juices run clear, at 175 degrees C.

Add the leftover marinade to the oil in the pan, cook for 5-6 minutes or till the sauce begins to thicken. Pour over chicken when its done.

Serve hot with steamed vegetables and Cucumber Raita.

Serves 4.

For Cucumber Raita:

2 cucumbers, peeled and grated
3 cups plain yogurt
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Beat yogurt in a bowl till smooth, stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep refrigerated till you serve. Tastes great with meat and rice main course.

Serves 4.

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