Oz meets India: Roast Chicken with Vegemite Masala

An Indo-Aussie fusion created for the joint national days of India and Australia, try this vegemite chicken.

Reading Time: 4 minutes


In a nod to 26 January, a common holiday with two countries, here’s how you can combine vegemite, a quintessentially Australian ingredient with spice masalas, a quintessentially Indian ingredient, to make a unique but delicious dish.

Let’s admit it, vegemite is very much an acquired taste. It has a rather strong, yeasty flavour and smell that makes you think it is definitely not from this planet. So, the challenge to create this Indo-Australian offering here, was to draw out the rich flavours, and mask the unpleasant ones. Well, what better way to do this than with spices!

Roast Chicken with Vegemite Masala (with Chilli Garlic Asparagus and Cumin spiced Mashed Potatoes)

For the chicken

  • 2 Chicken Maryland (with skin)
  • 1 large onion; cut into large cubes
  • 1 cup white button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  • 2 small ripe tomatoes; finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves; finely grated
  • 1 inch ginger; finely grated
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp fennel powder
  • ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
  • Salt, to season
  • 1 tbsp vegemite
  • Juice of ½ lemon

For the asparagus

  • 12 green asparagus
  • 1 large garlic clove; sliced finely
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt, to season

For the mashed potatoes

  • 500gms potatoes (I used russet but you can use any which lends a creamy texture)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds; coarsely crushed
  • Salt, to season
  • Black pepper, to season
  • 1 tsp toasted pine nuts; crushed coarsely

For the roast chicken

In a pan, heat butter and add the onions. Sauté till light brown and then add the garlic and ginger.




Sauté for another 2-3 minutes and then add the spices except salt. Mix well and cook on low heat for another minute and then add the tomatoes.

Increase heat and continue to sauté till the tomatoes have turned mushy and the whole mixture begins to come together.

At this stage add vegemite; mix well, taste and then season with salt as the vegemite is naturally salty.

Balance flavours with lemon juice and remove from heat. Allow to cool.

READ ALSO: Indian cuisine with an Aussie twist


Rub the chicken pieces with salt and pepper; apply the prepared masala (reserve a little) liberally all over the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as you can. Bring to room temperature before roasting.

Heat the oven to 200°C (fan forced) and line an oven proof tray with baking paper. Place the chicken pieces inside (skin side facing upwards) along with the diced onions. Apply a bit of the reserved vegemite masala over the onions and sprinkle with salt.

Roast for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken pieces over; add the mushrooms at this stage. Apply the remaining masala over the chicken and roast again for another 10 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over again, increase heat to 220°C and cook for another 5 minutes (or till done) to brown the skin.

Remove from oven, keep covered and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

For the asparagus

Trim the thick ends of the asparagus (an inch from bottom) and peel the skin off at the lower end of the asparagus.

Blanch the asparagus and keep aside.

Add butter to a pan and add the garlic cloves; cook on low heat till the garlic takes on a light brown colour, then add the chilli flakes.

Immediately add the asparagus, season with salt and stir fry on high heat for about 15 seconds.

For the mashed potatoes

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water till soft.

Add 2 tbsp butter to a small pan along with the garlic; cook on low heat till garlic turns golden. Remove from flame and add the crushed cumin seeds and oregano. Keep aside.

In another pan, place the potatoes, milk and remaining butter. Mash and cook on low heat whisking continuously till you get a smooth, creamy mixture.

Season with salt and pepper; remove when desired texture has been achieved. If you want super creamy texture, pass the mashed potatoes through a sieve (I didn’t do this, though).

Add the melted garlic infused butter to the mashed potatoes and stir through.
Garnish with toasted pine nuts.


  • To go along with the vegemite chicken, I pan-roasted asparagus with a bit of butter, chilli and garlic. And of course there’s no roast chicken without mashed potatoes; so check out this Indian influenced version of garlicky potatoes spiced generously with cumin and caraway seeds.
  • Did you know that in Australia, Chicken Maryland is a butcher’s cut as opposed to America where it is the name of traditional dish? Chicken Maryland is a great option for smaller families who do not want the tedious job of roasting a whole chicken. It is affordable, easy to roast and there will be no leftovers!

Learning about vegemite

If you’re new to the vegemite story, here’s what you need to know.

It originated in 1922 when Dr Cyril P Callister was appointed by the Kraft Food Company to develop a tasty spread from brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is one of the richest known natural sources for Vitamin B complex. What followed was years of uncertainty until eventually Australia accepted this new product. Of course, very soon it grew to acquire cult status and became known far and wide as a unique Australian food product.

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