Malai chicken

by Meera Sodha

A popular northern Indian marinated chicken dish

This is an ancient and classic marinade for chicken which is popular in North India but little known over here. The ‘malai’ or ‘cream’ marinade is fairly gentle and made using cashews, yoghurt and warming spices like black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom. Although the chicken would normally be cooked in a tandoor, a barbecue or oven yields great results.


6 chicken legs
80g raw cashews
80ml double cream
100g Greek yoghurt
3 green finger chillies
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ nutmeg, grated
1 tsp salt
2cm ginger, peeled
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tbsp lemon juice, plus more to season
1 tbsp chickpea flour
Fresh coriander to decorate (optional) 


Remove the skin from the chicken legs by pulling it off with your hands. If you get a little stuck, cut it off using a knife or a pair of kitchen scissors. Leave the chicken to one side in a deep dish.

Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender and blend to a paste. Coat the chicken with the marinade and leave to one side for at least 30 mins and up to 24 hours.

To cook, heat up the barbecue to a moderate heat. Place the chicken on a cooler part of the grill and cook for around 20 mins, turning every 5 mins or so. Cut into the leg to check the meat is cooked through. If not, cook for another 5 mins or so. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of coriander.

ALTERNATIVE: These legs can also be cooked in the oven. To cook, place in a lightly oiled tray and bake for 20-25 mins at 220C.

Recipe: Meera Sodha
Images: John Holdship