Brined and char-grilled whole chicken with cumin and lime

Char-grilled chicken with cumin and lime - add some Sriracha for an extra kick.
Char-grilled chicken with cumin and lime - add some Sriracha for an extra kick. Photo: William Meppem

If you've never tried brining birds before roasting or grilling, you've been missing out. The resulting flesh is juicy and succulent, giving a greater tolerance to prevent the breasts drying out during cooking. The brine is flavoured with ginger and lime and doesn't need a sauce or dressing however a squirt of Sriracha and a fresh squeeze of lime doesn't go astray.


1.8kg free-range chicken, butterflied

50ml olive oil

1 tbsp cumin seeds, roughly ground in a mortar and pestle

3 limes, cut into wedges

Sriracha chilli sauce or similar, to serve

For the brine

400g salt

100g brown sugar

10 kaffir lime leaves

40g piece ginger, roughly chopped


1.  For brine, combine all ingredients with five litres water in a large pot and stir over high heat until salt has dissolved. Refrigerate brine until chilled.

2.  Place chicken in the brine and refrigerate overnight. Remove chicken from brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towel, then  return to the refrigerator uncovered for two hours to dry skin.

3.  Preheat barbecue over medium-high heat. Brush chicken with oil and scatter with cumin seeds. Place skin-side down on barbecue and cook for five minutes, then turn and cook for another five minutes. Reduce heat to low and turn chicken again and cook for 15 minutes, then turn once more and cook for another 15 minutes or until skin is crisp and chicken is just cooked through. Test by piercing the thigh with a skewer, juices should run clear.

4. Remove chicken from grill and rest for 10 minutes. Cut chicken into pieces and serve with lime halves and chiili sauce.