Regardless of faith, Christmas is a time for all people to come together and celebrate love, companionship, togetherness… And, of course, delicious food. However, the traditional roast may be a little too bland for Desi families, or simply those whose palates prefer bolder, stronger, spicier tastes.

Thus, we hope that families of all sorts across the nation will enjoy this delicious Desi tandoori Turkey (this recipe can also work with a capon, chicken or rooster too) this Christmas…


For the Tandoori Masala you will need;

  • 2 and a half tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon plus whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
    1 teaspoon dried fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces around 3-4 inches should be plenty
  • 1/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds

For the Garam Masala, you will require;

  • 24 crumbled bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons black cardamom pods
  • 2 and a half tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ajwain seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • Another cinnamon stick

For the turkey itself;

  • A 5-6 kg (12-14lb) Halal turkey
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 5 black cardamom pods
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves

The marinade requires:

  • 1 litre plain whole-milk yoghurt
  • 75g chopped peeled ginger
  • 75g cup fresh lime juice
  • 35g garlic (finely chopped)
  • 35g ground paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

You may also prefer to use a roasting bag to keep your bird tender and juicy.

Preparing the turkey

First, let’s take on the tandoori masala.

Toast the spices in a skillet over a medium heat, stirring regularly for about 2 mins until fragrant. Allow to cool. Next, finely grind the mixture into a spice mill. You can do this days, weeks or up to a month in advance. Just be sure to store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Alternatively, if you’d rather save yourself some time, you can purchase your tandoori masala online from Frozen Halal.

Repeat the above process for the garam masala before sifting into a small boll and stirring to combine.

Now it’s time to prep the turkey itself. Pat the bird dry with paper towels and rub inside and out with salt before transferring her to a roasting bag. Stuff the turkey with your cardamom pods and cumin seeds, then add the onion, celery, and garlic.

Now it’s time to get cracking on that marinade.

Purée all ingredients in a blender and pour them into the roasting bag, ensuring the bird is well covered. Tie up the bag and arrange the turkey, breast side down, in a large heavy roasting pan and leave to refrigerate overnight.

Cooking the turkey

Now it’s time to get cooking! Let the turkey stand in the bag at room temperature for about an hour. Turn her breast side up and punch some steam holes in the bag if there aren’t already any.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6). Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C (Gas Mark 4). Roast for a further hour and a half.

Cut the top of the bag open, being careful of the steam and juices that flow forth. Pull the bag back over turkey and roast until the breast is deeply browned without showing signs of burning.

Transfer to a platter and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Strain the juices into a large saucepan and combine with fat spooned from the surface. Simmer this over a medium heat until it has reduced to form a thick gravy.

Serve, smile and humbly accept praise!