5 Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas

As well as presents, Christmas is known for its delicious food. Here are five Desi-style roast turkey recipes to try.

Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas f

adding sweet and tangy flavours to the mix.

Food during Christmas is one of the best things to look forward to and one of the centrepieces is usually roast turkey.

Turkey is the most obvious choice when it comes to Christmas dinner.

In many British households, turkey is the most popular Christmas meat, offering a meaty, yet buttery taste.

But for an extra layer of flavour, why not put a Desi twist on it?

Marinating turkey with an array of Indian spices will add an enticing aroma, not to mention taste great.

With Christmas fast approaching, it might be a good idea to start planning your menu for the big day.

Here are five Desi-style roast turkey recipes to consider for Christmas.

Spiced Turkey with 2 Chutneys

Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas - chutney

This roast turkey is marinated with an array of spices, giving it a deep, warming flavour, perfect for Christmas.

It features two very different chutneys which complement the main dish, adding sweet and tangy flavours to the mix.

The marinade and chutneys all benefit from being prepared ahead, giving the spicy flavours time to get to know each other.

Both chutneys can be made up to a week ahead.


  • A 4.5kg turkey (giblets removed)
  • 8 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 30g ginger, finely grated
  • 1½ tbsp turmeric
  • 2 red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 Limes, rind grated and juiced
  • 50g coriander
  • 60g softened butter
  • 1½ tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 Lime, halved

Tomato & Tamarind Chutney

  • 3 long red chillies
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp seedless tamarind pulp
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10g ginger, finely grated
  • 2 red shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp dark palm sugar, grated
  • 1 Lime, juiced

Mango Chutney

  • 150ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 salad onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Salt to taste


  1. To make the tomato and tamarind chutney, grill chillies and tomatoes in a chargrill pan over medium heat until charred all over. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to steam for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel the chillies and tomatoes, and remove the seeds.
  3. Process them in a small food processor with the remaining ingredients until smooth. Season to taste and cool.
  4. Refrigerate in an airtight container until required.
  5. For the mango chutney, simmer vinegar, onion, garlic, spices and half a teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar is almost evaporated.
  6. Add mango and cook until it starts to soften then add sugar.
  7. Simmer for around six minutes until the mango is tender.
  8. Season to taste, cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
  9. Blend the garlic, ginger, tomato puree, turmeric and chilli until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the spices, yoghurt, lime rind and juice. Combine and season to taste.
  10. Evenly spread over the turkey, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
  11. When ready to use, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  12. Take the turkey out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  13. Stuff the cavity with the lime halves and coriander, dot the turkey with butter, place in a roasting pan and roast uncovered for 30 minutes.
  14. Cover with foil and roast, basting occasionally, for one oil.
  15. Remove the foil and roast for around 45 minutes or until the skin is golden and its internal temperature reads 70°C.
  16. Remove from the oven, loosely cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  17. Serve the turkey with the chutneys, roast potatoes and all the trimmings.

This recipe was inspired by Gourmet Traveller.

Tandoori Roast Turkey

Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas - tandoori

This tandoori turkey is a Christmas feast with a difference.

Smothered in an aromatic paste of Indian spices and left to marinate overnight, the skin and meat of the turkey take on an incredible flavour and golden colour.

Enjoy with all your usual trimmings.


  • A 6-7kg turkey (giblets removed)

For the Marinade

  • 500g Yoghurt
  • 50g ginger paste
  • 40g garlic paste
  • 50g red chilli powder
  • 50g turmeric
  • 60g cumin powder
  • 40g coriander powder
  • 50g green chillies, chopped
  • 200ml mustard oil
  • 100g coriander leaves, chopped
  • 40g fenugreek leaves
  • Salt to taste


  1. Make slits all over the turkey with a knife.
  2. In a bowl, add the marinade ingredients and mix thoroughly until it forms a paste. Rub the marinade all over the turkey.
  3. Place the turkey in a roasting tin and cover it with foil. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. When ready to use, preheat the oven to 220°C.
  5. Cook the turkey for 40 minutes.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and cook for a further three and a half hours.
  7. Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 200°C and cook for a further 35 minutes or until golden.
  8. Once done, enjoy.

This recipe was inspired by Good to Know.

Masala Roast Turkey

Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas - masala

This unique roast turkey recipe boasts recognisable Pakistani flavours, featuring pungent spices and crispy charred skin that is laden with flavour.

Unlike other roast turkey recipes, this one sits in a brine beforehand.

By doing this, the natural flavours of the turkey are amped up before even more flavour is added.

It is paired with a green chutney, which is both refreshing and spicy.


  • A 6kg turkey (giblets removed)

For the Marinade

  • 150g chargha masala
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp ginger
  • 4 tbsp garlic
  • 6 tbsp softened butter

For the Brine

  • ¾ cup salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • Enough water to completely submerge the turkey


  • ½ cup + 1 cup yoghurt
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves
  • ½ Garlic clove
  • ¾ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cumin seed powder
  • 5 green chillies
  • Salt


  1. Two days before roasting, place the turkey in a large pot.
  2. Warm a cup of water and mix in the salt and brown sugar. Pour into a pot then add enough water to cover the turkey.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  4. Remove from the fridge, drain the brine and pat the turkey dry. Place into a roasting tray.
  5. In a bowl, add the marinade ingredients except for the butter and whisk. Reserve the squeezed lemons for later. Stir in the softened butter.
  6. Lift the skin at the bottom of the turkey breast then stuff approximately a fifth of the marinade mixture into each breast half.
  7. Smear the rest of the mixture over the rest of the turkey.
  8. Stuff the cavity with the juiced lemons then leave uncovered in the fridge.
  9. On the day of roasting, take the turkey out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  10. Preheat the oven to 230°C then roast the turkey for 30 minutes.
  11. Reduce the temperature to 175°C, tent the turkey with foil and cook for a further one hour and 50 minutes.
  12. Once done, remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
  13. To make the chutney, blitz half a cup of yoghurt, mint leaves, coriander, salt, red chilli powder, green chillies and garlic until smooth. Pour into a bowl and whisk in an additional cup of yoghurt.
  14. Serve the turkey with green chutney.

This recipe was inspired by Flour and Spice.

Smoked Tandoori Turkey

For many people, achieving an authentic tandoori flavour is difficult because many households do not have a tandoor.

But thankfully, you can achieve a similar flavour with this recipe, thanks to a small piece of charcoal, a small ovenproof ramekin, a little oil and heatproof tongs.

The result is layers of spice and a distinctive smoky flavour, making this a great option for Christmas.


  • A 5kg turkey (giblets removed)
  • 1 Garlic bulb

1st Marinade

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (keep the squeezed lemon halves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2nd Marinade

  • 200g yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric.
  • 1½ tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil


  1. In a bowl, add the first marinade ingredients and mix well, then set aside.
  2. Rub the marinade all over the turkey, including under the skin.
  3. Leave to marinade for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the second marinade ingredients in a bowl then rub over the turkey.
  5. Place the garlic bulb and lemon halves into the cavity then refrigerate overnight.
  6. On the day of roasting, bring the turkey to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  7. Cover the roasting tray with foil and roast the turkey for two and a half hours.
  8. Remove the foil and lightly baste with some of the liquid in the roasting tray then roast for another 30 minutes.
  9. When the turkey is done, turn the oven off and leave the door halfway ajar.
  10. Place a piece of charcoal on the smallest burner and light it up. Using some tongs, turn the charcoal around halfway through to quicken the process.
  11. Take the ovenproof ramekin and pour the oil in. Place the ramekin on the lowest shelf in the oven.
  12. When the charcoal is done, pick it with the tongs and place it into the ramekin. Close the oven door and allow the turkey to smoke for 10 minutes.
  13. When done, remove from the oven and cover with a new piece of foil. Set aside to rest for at least 45 minutes then serve.

This recipe was inspired by Lins Food.

Turkey stuffed with Biryani

Desi-Style Roast Turkey Recipes for Christmas - biryani

When it comes to Christmas, stuffing is one of the main things.

For a Desi-style Christmas dinner, stuff your turkey with vegetable biryani.

Not only will this add even more flavour but since biryani is a regal dish, it is only fitting for such occasions like Christmas.


  • A 4kg turkey (giblets removed)

For the Marinade

  • 1½kg yoghurt
  • 50g ginger paste
  • 100g garlic paste
  • 30g red chilli powder
  • 15g garam masala
  • 20g coriander powder
  • 100 ml cream
  • 60g cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 50ml olive oil
  • A few drops of orange food colouring
  • Salt to taste

For the Biryani

  • 500g Basmati rice (washed and soaked)
  • 400g mixed carrots, cauliflower, French beans, mushroom, and green peas (boil them till they are ¾ cooked)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Onions, sliced
  • ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • ½ tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 green chillies, slit
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 5 Mint leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • Saffron strands, a few strands soaked in warm milk


  1. Skin the turkey then make slits all over. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the yoghurt then add ginger paste, garlic paste, red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cream, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, food colouring and salt.
  3. Mix thoroughly and check for seasoning.
  4. Spread evenly over the turkey then refrigerate overnight.
  5. When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 160°C.
  6. Roast the turkey, brushing with butter at equal intervals until it is cooked through.
  7. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  8. To make the biryani, boil the rice until the grains separate. Drain the water and allow to cool.
  9. Heat oil and ghee in a saucepan. Add the bay leaves, green cardamom, black cardamom and cinnamon sticks. Saute for one minute.
  10. Add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste. Fry for another two minutes.
  11. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, chillies, red chilli powder, yoghurt and garam masala powder. Mix well and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  12. Add the boiled vegetables. Mix well then add mint leaves, coriander leaves and salt. Cook for five minutes then set aside.
  13. In a thick bottom saucepan, layer the vegetables and the cooked rice. Sprinkle the saffron milk, mint leaves and coriander leaves.
  14. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  15. Stuff the biryani in the turkey. Ensure to stuff it firmly.
  16. Tie the legs with string to prevent the stuffing from coming out.
  17. Coat with butter and place in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes at a temperature of 120°C.
  18. Remove from the oven and serve.

This recipe was adapted from Open Rice.

These roast turkey recipes will help ensure that you have a fulfilling centrepiece to go with your potatoes and vegetables on Christmas Day.

They are marinated with various Indian spices and some are even cooked differently, giving the standard turkey an added oomph.

So as Christmas draws closer, these recipes are options to think about.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

Images courtesy of Gourmet Traveller & Lins Food

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