In Thailand, aromatic, spice-paste-­slathered gai yang is so ubiquitous its name translates simply as “grilled chicken,” a name that doesn’t do justice to its deep, complex flavors.

Recalling childhood family trips, Thai chef Jet Tila remembers the scent of spiced whole chickens as they roasted over charcoal. “It’s a pretty romantic dish,” he says. “Everyone has their own sense memory of their favorite gai yang.”

As a professional, however, Tila found it a challenging recipe to cook for thousands of diners. Traditional gai yang can be both labor- and ingredient-intensive. “My family would have, like, 50 ingredients—like garlic, lemon grass, fish sauce, sweet soy, curry powder and cumin,” he says.

But inspiration for a way to streamline struck in the form of a jar of Thai red curry paste, which already contains many of those ingredients. Using that as a base, he created a marinade that requires nothing more than the addition of coconut milk, curry powder, garlic, sugar and salt.

We took his lead and applied his sauce to bone-in chicken thighs that we slash before marinating to create more surface area for flavors to penetrate. This ensures a boldly flavored gai yang that requires seven—not 50—ingredients and just 35 minutes of hands-on cooking time.