• Indian-style Hyderabadi chicken (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

Is there anything better than tender spiced chicken? Try this recipe - you won't be disappointed.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (290 votes)

Ajoy Joshi has an unusual technique for cooking this Indian dish, which involves covering the saucepan with a bowl with a little water inside it instead of a lid. As the chicken cooks in its own juices, it creates steam that holds the bowl in place, sealing in all the delicious flavours. The result is amazingly tender – as if the chicken has been steamed. Ajoy is also a master at blending spices. 


  • 1 kg chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 50 g peanuts
  • milk
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) oil 
  • onion, sliced
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1½ tbsp crushed green chilli
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1½ cups natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 10 minutes

Cut the chicken into large cubes without trimming off the fat, as this keeps it moist.

Toast the sesame seeds and peanuts in a dry frying pan then grind to a paste. Mix the paste with a little milk. This paste will thicken and bind the sauce for the chicken.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the onion and 2 pinches of salt. Cook over medium–high heat for about 5 minutes or until caramelised and golden brown. Remove from the heat.

Place the peanut paste, ginger, garlic, chilli, turmeric, yoghurt, garam masala, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the fried onion and then the chicken. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes (the acidity of the yoghurt will help to tenderise the chicken, but if left for longer, too much moisture will be drawn out of the meat).

Put the chicken and marinade in the saucepan used for the onions and set a large stainless-steel bowl over the top so that it seals around the rim. Add ¼ cup of water to the bowl. The heat of the saucepan will cause suction and hold the bowl in place, creating steam and improvising a pressure cooker. Cook the chicken over medium heat for 30–40 minutes. When the water in the bowl has evaporated you’ll know the chicken is cooked. Just before serving add the lemon juice.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.