Looking for a fresh way with a simple roast chicken, we drew on lessons and flavors from multiple cultures—a fiery condiment from the Caucasus and an easy seasoning technique that delivers flavor directly to the meat.
First, the flavor. Adjika are a broad family of pepper-based pastes eaten throughout the Caucasus Mountains. Similar to ajvar in Eastern Europe or biber salçası in Turkey, adjika traditionally were made once a year at harvest and preserved, a simple yet bold pantry item to add a quick punch of flavor and color to vegetables or meat throughout the year.
Red adjika—typically slathered on roasted meats—vary in heat by region, but they usually are spicy and sweet, made from red bell peppers, chilies, garlic and sometimes tomatoes. Green varieties are made from herbs measured by the handful, most often mint but sometimes parsley or cilantro, chilies, garlic, occasionally walnuts.
For this recipe, we took inspiration from a green adjika. And we applied it using a method we learned from Nik Sharma, who likes to experiment with the flavors, dishes and cooking techniques from his Indian heritage.
Sharma likes to rub green chutneys under the skin of whole chickens before roasting. Not only does this allow the chutney to more directly season the meat, the skin also helps keep the seasoning in place during roasting. The result was a boldly seasoned bird from just minutes of effort.