Steam Roast Chicken

Steam Roast Chicken
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The Steam Roast Chicken to end all steam roast chickens

I love a good Steam Roast Chicken. It’s full of flavor and cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection without drying out. My days in Lahore were spent eating, and this is one dish I enjoyed the most. I walked into my Mamu’s(Mother’s brother) new home (They moved out of their home of 30+ years recently, so seeing them in a new home was daunting in itself) and as soon as I opened the door I was hit by the delicious aromas that once filled their previous home. It instantly made me feel better, knowing that although their space had changed, they were still the same. And lucky for me, my Mami (Aunt) still enjoys cooking in her new kitchen.

This steam roast is superior in that it uses no pre-made spice blend, and has such a different marination technique that I feel like I need to reinvent my process. The thing that takes it over the top though, is our family’s favorite ingredient. You infuse the delicious roast chicken with a smokey flavor that will make this a favorite on any table.

Why this Roast Chicken is better

It’s all in the marinade. Most recipes I’ve made or come across all call for ground spices. It makes sense. If you want to release more flavor from the spices, you grind them. Which is why I was confused when my aunt told me to use mostly whole spices, and a lot of them. Just like as with herbs that taste different in different stages, dried or fresh, spiced also give different flavor profiles in their different states. That is why this recipe is superior, because it takes just the right amount of flavor and aroma from the spices. My aunt also cuts her chicken into quarters so it’s easier to serve, and I stand by that. No one wants to be faffing with cutting up a while chicken, holding up the buffet line. And we all know haldi stains are stubborn.

Some basic techniques ensure perfection

You’ve seen those quintessential diagonal cuts on chicken, and there’s a good reason for it. Not only does it make sure all the flavors in the marinade get deep into the chicken, but I also like how the thicker parts of the chicken cook more evenly with those cuts in place. Another tip is to always sear the juicier side of the chicken first. That way, once you flip and sear the other side, the juices stay inside the chicken, keeping it from drying in the process of cooking. You then cover the pot and lower the flame, so the steam that is created continues to cook the chicken, hence steam roast. Smoking the chicken with charcoal also adds great flavor.

Another trick is to use a large enough pot, and I prefer using non stick. my favorite pot to cook in nowadays is the Perfect Pot by Our Place, which you can buy here. Use code “FATIMA10” for money off your order!

A few recipes that use charcoal flavor:

Paratha Rolls

Malai Boti

Chicken Tikka

Make it a complete meal

my aunt adds potatoes to hers, so I do as well. You can add other vegetables that roast well, like egg plant, carrots or zucchini. Just read through the recipe notes below to know when to add the vegetables, and if they need to be prepared before adding. I personally love having this on it’s own, but you can serve it with matar pulao, some naan, and a delicious mint chutney.

Steam Roast Chicken

Steam Roast Chicken

This Steam Roast Chicken is 100% scratch made and is very easy to put together! It can make the perfect family meal, or the show stopper at your next party!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Pakistani
Servings 4


  • 1 chicken skinned and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup yogurt whipped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 10 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick 2 inch piece
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • piece of charcoal for smoking chicken
  • 4 red potatoes peeled, cubed and parboiled


  • Mix the vinegar in 2 cups of water and soak the chicken in it for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and drain well. Make 1/2 inch deep diagonal cuts in the chicken, so the marinade can seep into the chicken.
  • Mix all the whole and ground spices into the yogurt along with the ginger and garlic. Spread over the chicken, making sure you coat all sides and get the marinade into the cuts. Marinate for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best. Mix and coat the chicken in the marinade once more before cooking.
  • In a large pot heat 3 Tbsps oil. Sear the chicken cut side down (The juicier side of the chicken) for 4-5 minutes, then flip over and sear the other side. Flip the chicken once more, then lower the flame and cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • The steam in the pot will continue to cook the chicken. After 10 minutes, flip the chicken, add the potatoes and mix. Then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked through and tender. Make sure you check to see that the chicken doesn't burn from the bottom while cooking. If the oil dries up add little more, or if the chicken starts getting dry add a splash of water.
  • If there's any liquid left once the chicken and potatoes are cooked increase the flame to medium and boonthe chicken till the water is almost dried up. Mix occasionally so the chicken or potatoes don't burn.
  • To smoke the chicken, take 2-3 pieces of charcoal and heat them on the stove till very hot and red. Carefully place in ametal bowl and place in the pot with the cooked chicken and potatoes. Pour over a tablespoon of oil and quickly place the lid over so the smoke stays in the pot and infuses into the chicken. Leave the lid on for 10 minutes. Then serve.


Cooking tips. Use a heavy bottomed pot that is large enough for all the pieces of chicken to fit in one layer.  
After searing the chicken, so not cook on high heat or the chicken will get dry and burn. Lower heat mens the chicken will steam in the pot and stay moist. 
I feel that 3 tbsps of oil is enough for the amount of chicken, but if your pan isn’t non-stick or you prefer more oil, add 1-2 tbsps more. 
Marinate the chicken overnight. I actually marinate it for up to 2 days for the best results. The chicken becomes very tender and the marinade seeps deep into the chicken. 
Reheat the chicken in a pan instead of a microwave to keep the chicken from drying out. 
Variations. Use baby potatoes instead. Parboil so they only have to finish cooking with the chicken. 
If you want to make this with whole chicken, the cooking time will increase. 
You can also make this with chicken cut into smaller pieces, for example, 10-12 pieces. 
Make it less spicy by adding less whole dried  red chillies. 
Add more salt if you prefer salty food. 
Add more vegetables. You can always add vegetables other than potatoes. I love adding large chunks of egg plant, zucchini and carrots. You can also add large cubes of bell peppers and onions. Just make sure you don’t add the too soon or they’ll get too mushy. 
Keyword Roast Chicken, Steam Roast

Have you tried this classic Pakistani Steam Roast Chicken?

I love hearing your feedback! If you have tried this recipe or have any questions leave a comment below!

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Saadia Aftab

Sounding so delish already. Would definitely try it👍🏻💐


Tried this recipe with boneless thighs marinating for 3 hours or so ! Turned out really well … moist and flavorful with a perfect balance!!!! Using whole spices does make a lot of difference!!! Will make it again 💕


I am in love with this mouthwatering deliciousness! I usually marinate chicken for a day the most but marinating this chicken for 2 days(as recommended) and using whole spices does elevate this dish to the next level. I am never trying any other chicken roast recipe. Thank you so much for sharing your family recipe here!! I will make this chicken over and over!

[…] you’ll have everyone’s attention. Go the classic route with a bird and make my smokey Steam Roast Chicken or go the fusion way and make Chapli Kabab Sliders. Either way you go the crowd will be pleased. I […]