Archive of BBC Food Recipes

Tandoori chicken with black lentil sauce and herb pulao, served with rocket and mango salad

Prep time over 2 hours
Cook time over 2 hours
Serves 4
From Great British Menu


  1. Mix together the ingredients for the first marinade. Rub all over the chicken breasts, then leave in the fridge for 20 minutes so the juices can drain.

  2. Mix the ingredients for the second marinade. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then leave in a cool place for 2-3 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, make the black lentil sauce. Put the lentils, two tbsp of the oil, the ginger, garlic and whole chillies in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently until the lentils are cooked to a soft texture and the liquid has reduced. Discard the garlic and chillies.

  4. Prepare the seasoning for the lentil sauce by sautéing the cumin seeds, ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chilli in the remaining oil until soft. Stir in the tomato paste followed by all the ground spices.

  5. Add the cooked lentils to the seasoning and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

  6. Add the butter, cream and coriander with salt to taste. Blend with a hand blender to give a sauce consistency. Set aside, and reheat for serving.

  7. Next make the pulao. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan and fry the onions with the cinnamon, cardamom and mace until golden brown.

  8. Add the drained rice, salt and 1 litre/1¾ pints of water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan tightly and cook until the rice is tender and all liquid has been absorbed. Add the spinach and herb purée and mascarpone or cream just before serving.

  9. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  10. While the rice is cooking, thread the chicken breasts onto skewers, place the breasts on a non-stick baking tray and cook in the oven for three minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 160C/325F/Gas 3 and cook for a further 15 minutes.

  11. Baste the chicken breasts with the butter-oil mixture and cook for a further five minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (juices will run clear). Remove from the oven, baste the chicken again and sprinkle with the lime juice and chaat masala. Keep hot.

  12. Toss all the ingredients together for the salad.

  13. To serve, ladle the sauce onto four plates and spread out to cover. Place a large spoonful of herb pulao in the centre of each plate, set a tandoori chicken breast on the rice and garnish with the rocket and mango salad. Place the Peshawari naan on the side.


For the first marinade

  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, from a jar (or cursh together fresh garlic and ginger to form a paste)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt

For the chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts on the bone, skin removed, scored with 3 or 4 incisions
  • melted butter and oil, for basting
  • 1½ tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chaat masala (a mixture of dried spices and chillies, available from Asian grocers)
  • salt
  • 4 Peshawari naan, to serve

For the second marinade

  • 250g/9oz thick plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 100ml/3½fl oz vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • pinch of edible red colouring (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt

For the black lentil sauce

  • 200g/7oz black lentils
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 whole green chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (see above)
  • ½ green chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp each red chilli powder, ground coriander, ground turmeric, garam masala and fenugreek leaf powder
  • 30g/1oz butter
  • 2 tbsp single cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • salt

For the herb pulao

  • 15g/½oz butter
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 100g/3½oz onion, sliced
  • 2.5cm/1in cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamoms, crushed
  • 1 blade mace
  • 500g/1lb 2oz basmati rice, washed and soaked for 10-20 minutes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbsp puréed spinach, coriander and mint
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone or double cream

For the rocket and mango salad

  • 25g/1oz baby rocket leaves
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into julienne
  • 1 green (unripe) mango, cut into julienne
  • vinaigrette made with oil and lime juice

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