While we were filming at my chum Chom’s country retreat, two elderly ladies were sitting cross-legged on the floor grinding fresh herbs in a pestle and mortar and fiddling with a couple of chickens as well as a large square empty oil container with the top taken off. After they had marinated and stuffed the chickens, they hung them inside the tin and placed the tin on a metal tray.
To my astonishment, they took it outside on to a track that ran through the paddy fields, and covered the tin with a small mountain of dried hay. It was a mound about three feet high and four to five feet in diameter.
My chum Chom said, ‘We will now roast a chicken in eight minutes.’ So saying, she set fire to the hay, which blazed furiously for about eight or ten minutes, until the blackened tin stood exposed in a circle of very fine ash. Chom gingerly lifted up the tin, unhooked the chickens from the wire and placed two succulent roast chickens on to a banana palm. As one we rushed at them and, using our hands, demolished the lot in seconds flat. If you don’t have any hay, I’m afraid you will have to cook it in the oven.
Give the chicken a good rinse under running water and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
Using a pestle and mortar or a small blender, pound or mix together the garlic, coriander roots, peppercorns, salt and soy sauce.
Rub the marinade thoroughly into the skin of the chicken and also inside. Stuff the chicken with the lemon grass, pandan or vanilla pod, and galangal or lime leaves. Brush lightly with coconut milk and roast in a preheated oven, 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6), for 15-20 minutes per
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