Tawa Chicken Roast

Tawa – is a griddle/frying pan/flat piece of metal with very low walls, sometimes convex, it is usually made of iron sheet or cast iron, but also comes in steel, aluminium and with non-stick coatings.  It is widely used in the East for making naans or chappatis.

There are two kinds of tawa foods, one is boneless pieces of chicken/ lamb marinated in spices and then cooked on the tawa, making a clattering noise with two metal scrapers also known as taka tak and is eaten with chappatis or naans.

The second kind of tawa chicken, is flattened (spatchcock) chicken, marinated and cooked on an iron tawa, more like a very flavourful roast.  I have eaten home-cooked tawa chicken, and tried the very spicy but yummy Credos – Faisal town, Lahore version and then the best one was definitely at Cocoo’s Den – near Badshahi mosque, Lahore, eating this in December with the fog thickening and worrying about reaching home in safety is a prominent memory.

For best results, the chicken is cut spatchcock style and cooked on the tawa or other flat iron pan on a very low heat. If you don’t have a tawa, cook it an a large shallow saucepan for a tasteful roast chicken but then its not tawa chicken.

Spatchcock – If preparing the chicken yourself, turn the chicken onto its front, using scissors cut the back on both sides of the long bone, remove the bone and discard, turn the chicken over and snip the sternum – middle bone in breast meat, turn it over again and hit it hard with a flat heavy implement to flatten.


for marinade

  • one whole chicken cut spatchcock style or 4 chicken quarters
  • half cup vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chillie powder
  • 2 tsps fresh ground garlic
  • 2 tsps fresh ground ginger

for cooking

  • 4 tbs olive/other oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 8oz finely chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 6oz finely chopped fresh spring onions/onions
  • 1 cupful finely sliced fresh coriander
  • 2 finely chopped green chillies
  • juice of one lime

for garnish and finish

  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 oz finely sliced onions
  • 1 finely sliced lime
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Put the vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt and red chillie powder into a glass jar, cover and shake until well mixed or use a blender to mix.
  2. Make long slits in the chicken on both sides, apply mixture to the chicken, rub into slits and keep aside in a bowl for 2-3 hours but not longer.
  3. Take a large iron tawa/pan, add the butter and oil and heat to medium, gently drop the marinated chicken onto this mixture, ensuring the chicken lays flat, brown on high heat, turn over and brown other side.
  4. Then reduce heat to very low, cover tightly with aluminium foil or with a large inverted saucepan and cook for 20 – 30 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked.  Turn the chicken over after  15 minutes. Tawa greens
  5. Move the chicken to the middle of the tawa, add half of the tomato, onion, coriander and green chillie mixture to the side of the chicken, stir into the oil and mix in, cover again and keep cooking uncovered for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Gently keep stirring around the chicken and turn over the whole chicken a couple of times.  Remember to be gentle as you don’t want the chicken to it break-up.  If this proves difficult, using a sharp knife, cut into the joints of the chicken and turn one at a time.
  7. Add the second half of the tomato and onion mixture onto the tawa on the side and stir in, cook uncovered on a low heat for 5 mins.
  8. If mixture begins to stick to the tawa, add a couple of tablespoons of water.IMG_4634
  9.  Once the wet masala mixture comes together and the oil separates (bhun).  Mouthwatering tawa chicken is almost ready!masala bhuning
  10.   Remove chicken pieces onto a large serving platter.  Sprinkle with lime juice.
  11.  For tarka, take the sliced onion and place in a non-stick frying pan; add the oil, brown until golden add the lime slices. Then tamper the chicken with this.
  12. Mix the dry masalas, sprinkle onto the chicken, serve with home fried chips or mashed potatoes make some garlic bread and side vegetables of your choice.


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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