Spice up your life with this epic spatchcock masala chicken dish

PREP TIME: 20 mins
45 mins + 45 mins brining
not too tricky
crowd-pleaser, family

Wine pairing: I popped down last week to chat to Jonathan at Michael Sutton’s Cellar for a wine match to go with this dish.

And in good form and totally right, Jonathan simply replied ‘I think you need a nice cold beer with that dish’.

So, true.

And with that, I bought some cold Devon Rock lager.

My cooking mojo

I’ll be totally honest.

When I did this recipe, I was in a bit of a panic about what to cook this week for the blog.

I knew I had a whole chicken in the freezer.

And I needed to use it up.

And I knew I wanted to do a spatchcock recipe.

(because they cook faster and more evenly).

We’d had an extremely busy two weeks in London under the old boat sanding and painting it.

It was generally quite a miserable experience but someone had to do it”

Under a 100yr old Dutch Tjalk

So, I admit, my cooking mojo was in a low ebb.

But then I came across this recipe.

And it all changed!

Spatchcock chicken

First of all, I really need to convince you how easy it is to spatchcock your own chicken.

Which I taught myself last year.

Although, there’s not much technical stuff to learn in fairness.

As it’s not as tricky as jointing a chicken.

(which I’d also recommend you teach yourself).

But the reason I’m a fan of learning these ‘chicken-skills’ is flexibility.

Because, you can buy a whole chicken, pop it in the freezer.

And at least you know, depending on you cooking mojo.

What kind of cooking effort you want to put in.

As it gives you choices – whole roast chicken; grilled chicken; chicken pieces etc

Plus, you definitely get more bang-for-you-buck by buying a whole chicken.

Because, buying individual chicken pieces, doesn’t provide as much value.

In simple terms, to spatchcock a chicken aka butterfly it, you simply remove the backbone, open it out and flatten it.


The benefits of spatchcocking a chicken


  • get more bang-for-your-buck
  • reduces the cooking time significantly
  • can cook in different ways, such as grilling or pan-frying
  • will get better even seasoning and nice crispy skin

If Nando’s do it, then it must be a good way to cook!

(Oh, come on, you secretly like a bit of Nando’s from time to time 😉)

Spatchcock masala chicken… garam masala

So, we’ve done spatchcock.

And I hope you’ll try some new chicken-skills

But if not, just ask your butcher to do it for you.

Now onto the spices…

What is garam masala?

It’s simply a blend of ground spices.

And is used a lot in Indian cooking.

Garam means ‘hot’.

And masala means ‘spices’.

There are different versions of garam masala some hot, some more aromatic and sweet.

Using it you will bring out the flavours of the dish.

And you may be able to use less of other seasonings (such as salt).


Garam masala originates in Northern India.

What’s in garam masala?

Garam masala is usually made up of:

  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon (or cassia)
  • Nutmeg

But it could include things like turmeric, saffron, fennel seeds, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, mace, star anise, tamarind, fenugreek, bay leaves, Malabar leaves, or dried red chiles.

What does garam masala taste like?

Garam masala gives a dish warmth, sweetness, floral notes, and just a touch of heat from the black pepper.

It’s not generally known to be fiery hot.

Substitutions for garam masala

I love a good substitution list.

So, if you need more ideas on subs for herbs and spices, find more, here.

But because garam masala means spices.

You can pretty much play around with making your own mix with the above list of ingredients.

But here’s a basic recipe, if you don’t have any pre-made garam masala.

All you need is a spice or coffee grinder.


  • coriander seeds – 3 x tbsp
  • cumin seeds – 2 x tbsp
  • cardamom seeds – 2 x tbsp
  • black peppercorns – 2 x tbsp
  • freshly grated nutmeg 1x tsp
  • whole cinnamon stick – 1
  • whole cloves – 1 x tsp


  1. Over medium-high heat in a frying-pan (don’t add any oil), toast the coriander, cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns for about 10 mins, stirring from time-to-time.
  2. When they have darkened slightly and give off a lovely aroma, remove and let cool.
  3. Grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.
  4. Grate the nutmeg and add it to the mixture.
  5. You now have garam masala!
Spatchcock masala chicken with Devon Rock lager

Spatchcock masala chicken

So, there you have it.

Two elements that make this dish fantastic.

Spatchcocking the chicken


Garam masala.

So, when you feel you’re in a low cooking ebb, like I was.

Look up this recipe up (again).

It will help bring back your cooking mojo.

And no one will be the wiser that you really were a bit ‘over cooking’ that day.

Enjoy… it’s a winner.

What’s your favourite spatchcock chicken recipe? Leave a comment.

Spatchcock chicken masala

Course Main Course
Keyword bolognese, chicken, curry, spatchcock chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Brining 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • 1.5 kg whole chicken (free-range or organic) (ask your butcher to spatchcock it or see my link below how to easily do it yourself)


  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed to a powder
  • 2 tsp salt


  • 4 tbsp runny honey
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns ground
  • 1 tsp sea salt

CORN & MANGO (optional… but delicious)

  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp amchoor (dried mango powder) (you can sub in tamarind paste if you can't get this. Use 1/2 to 3/4 tsp for the equivalent of 1 tsp amchoor)
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 11/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, stoned and cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced


Spatchcock a chicken

  • Follow this link, below in Notes (or ask your butcher to do it).


  • Make the brine by mixing all the ingredients with 1.5 litres of water in a large bowl or container.
    Put the chicken in and leave to brine for 45 mins.

Honey-masala glaze chicken

  • Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/.
  • In a bowl, mix all the glaze ingredients together.
    Drain the brine from the chicken and pat dry and place in a roasting tray.
    Brush 2/3 of the glaze over the chicken and cover with foil. Roast for 30 mins.
  • Take the foil off the chicken, turn up the heat to 220C/ fan 200C/ and brush with the rest of the glaze, then pop back in the oven for another 20-30 mins (basting every 5 mins) until the chicken is cooked and has a slight char.
    Once cooked, cover and rest for 15 mins.

Corn & mango side (optional)

  • IN a small pan, heat the butter, cinnamon, cayenne, amchoor, sugar, apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp of fine sea salt, and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. (It may look very sticky)
    Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Under a grill on high, place the corn cobs to char all over (approx 10-12 mins), turning frequently.
    Once done, carefully slice the kernels off the cobs and put them onto a baking tray.
    Pour over the spiced butter and mix together, spreading the corn out into a single layer.
    Grill for 5 – 10 mins until the corn is starting to caramelise and blacken slightly at the edges.
  • Once done, tip the mango, red onion, chilli and grilled corn into a large bowl.
    Squeeze over the lime juice, add the lime zest and toss to combine.
    Top the corn and mango with more red chilli and serve alongside the roasted honey-masala chicken.