Mustard Yogurt Turkey Roast

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

When Christmas comes around, scores of increasingly desperate people telephone and write to us begging for different things to do with turkey. They are not always amused by the answer. For those who have only ever eaten overcooked turkey, roasted to the consistency of wood chippings, this annual panic is understandable. Nowadays, however, nobody need fear the arrival of the ostrich-sized monster. All they have to do is buy a turkey breast joint on the bone, ignore the instructions on the wrapper and give it this delicate Middle-Eastern treatment, which imparts an appealing flavour reminiscent of tandoori chicken. You can, of course, use this marinade and roasting baste on a whole chicken, chicken leg and thigh joints or with chicken breasts on the bone.


  • 1 turkey breast joint, weighing about 1 kg/ lb

For the Marinade

  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemons
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • 5 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 5 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 31/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Yogurt Sauce

  • ½ onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 12-16 saffron strands
  • 575 ml/1 pt natural plain yogurt, stabilized
  • 1/2 nutmeg
  • salt and pepper



First make the marinade: toast the cumin seeds and peppercorns in a dry pan over a low heat and then grind to a powder.

Peel, smash and chop the garlic. Juice the lemons. Chop the the herbs. Put these into a bowl together with the ground spices and all the other marinade ingredients and stir to mix evenly.

Put the turkey joint, breast side down, in an ovenproof casserole dish into which it will just fit snugly and pour the marinade over it. Leave for 4 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator (if you do, remember to remove it 2 hours before you start cooking).

Preheat the oven to 200°/400°F/gas6


Turn the joint breast side up, spoon marinade over the top and roast for 45 minutes, basting frequently.

Remove the joint and transfer to a cutting board. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Make the sauce: first peel and dice the onion. Fry it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a moderate heat until translucent.

Scrape the pan juices into a food processor. Add the onion, mustard and saffron and whizz at full speed. Pour the yogurt in through the feeder tube. Transfer this sauce to a pan and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. It should be ready as the turkey gobbles, ‘Carve me!’


Cut the breasts off whole, then cut them across at an angle into thick slices. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve with plain boiled rice scattered with lots of coriander and parsley leaves.

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