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Whole Roasted Chicken in Tamarind Butter Sauce

Whole Roasted Chicken in Tamarind

My mother was celebrated for her roasted chicken, which was tender and flavorful right to the bone. She first made this recipe for one of our regular customers at our spice stall and soon enough could hardly keep up with the orders. I enjoyed standing beside her as she would make it, watching the palm sugar, butter, and tamarind as they caramelized. In this recipe, we never used the reserved juices from the pan as the tamarind sauce was so delicious on its own. However, you may serve the reserved sauce on the side you wish. Just before serving, she would sprinkle in a handful of fried chilies for an extra kiss of flavor.

Serves 6

1 (4 ½ to 5 pound) whole chicken


2 teaspoons coriander seeds

4 whole star anise

1 (4- inch) cinnamon sticks

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup soy sauce



3 teaspoons unsalted butter

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Tamarind Water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

8 tablespoons palm sugar or honey

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. To prepare the marinade, set a frying pan over medium heat. Dry roast the coriander seeds, star anise, and cinnamon for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant and slightly darkened. Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the coriander seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks, garlic, and soy sauce in a food processor or mini-chopper. Blend until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Put the chicken in a glass baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken, rubbing inside and out with the spices and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Put the chicken on a rack and save the marinade, and then place the rack on top of a baking pan. Fill the pan with ½ -inch of water. Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Basting the chicken every twenty minutes with marinade.
  6. Roast for an additional 30 minutes without basting until the juices run clear when you prick the thigh with a fork. Remove the chicken and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  7. While the chicken is resting, put a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, the tamarind juice, fish sauce and soy sauce and ¼ cup water and bring to a boil. Add the palm sugar and cayenne pepper, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, when done the sauce will be deep reddish brown in color and slightly thickened.
  8. Carve the chicken, arrange the pieces on a platter and pour the sauce over them.
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