Tonga Chilli-Lime Chicken by Natasha MacAller
Natasha MacAller - Asian

Tonga Chilli-Lime Chicken by Natasha MacAller

Gujarati Dal

by Natasha MacAller

Really pleased to feature this wonderful recipe by Natasha MacAller, author of Spice Health Heroes. 

Created at a Tongan vanilla plantation using ingredients available on the plantation, including passion fruit, freshly juiced limes, fresh ginger and vanilla, which I made into a mustard, this dish easily adapts for parties by substituting the thighs and drumsticks with the same amount of chicken wings.


  • 750g (1lb. 10oz.) chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, bone in, skin on
  • 1 small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnishing

For the marinade:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds, toasted
  • 240ml rapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 60ml lime juice
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 120ml passion fruit juice (or fresh pineapple juice), or 4 passion fruit, pulped and seeded
  • 1 tbsp coconut or brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 120ml seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 30g fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 fresh red chilies, thinly sliced

Cut any excess fat off the chicken pieces and transfer to a medium-sized bowl or casserole.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, ginger and coriander and cardamom seeds to make a paste. Transfer this paste to a food processor (or use a stick blender), add all the remaining marinade ingredients except the chilies, and whizz until smooth. Stir in the sliced chilies then pour the marinade over the chicken to coat. Cover the dish, or put everything into a zip-sealing bag, and chill for 2–8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

Drain the chicken from the marinade and set aside. Bake the chicken pieces for 25 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove from the oven, transfer onto a serving plate, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

To serve, reduce the leftover marinade and drizzle it over the chicken, then scatter the coriander leaves, and the chilies from the reduced marinade over all and serve immediately.

Spice Health Heroes is available to buy from Quarto Books here. Photography by Manja Wachsmuth, published by Jacqui Small

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