Chicken roasted in yogurt and spices

I had got used to things cooked with spices and yogurt in Damascus so I was interested in the few little jars of spices on Granny’s shelf, and she always had yogurt for our breakfast. There were caraway seeds that she added to cabbage and cakes, cinnamon for puddings, and cayenne pepper for cheesy things, so one day I persuaded her to try them with my favourite meal - roast chicken.


  • 1.6-2 kg free-range chicken
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 rounded tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 2 rounded teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 level teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • sea salt
  • butter for greasing


Make deep cuts in the breast and legs of the chicken and smear with the lemon juice so that it trickles down into the cuts. Leave for half an hour or so at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Put the yogurt into a small bowl and mix in the ground cinnamon, whole caraway seeds, cayenne pepper and a good seasoning of sea salt.

Place the chicken in a buttered roasting pan and smear all over and down into the cuts with the spiced yogurt. Roast on the centre shelf of the oven for 1½-1¾ hours, covering the top lightly with a piece of foil if it is getting too brown.