Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. To spatchcock the baby chickens, place them on a chopping board breast side down and cut down either side of the spine of the chicken to remove it. Open the chicken out and push down. Cut each chicken in half lengthways, straight through the breast bone. Then slash the skin and season well with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof frying pan. Put the 8 chicken halves in the pan to brown over a medium heat, skin side down, for 2–3 minutes, then place the pan in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and the meat is cooked. If you don’t have a pan big enough, cook them in two pans. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes.
Meanwhile make the lentil dahl. First, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant – this will take around 30 seconds to a minute. Grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the vegetable oil and onion, and sauté until soft. Put in the curry leaves and, once they start to pop in the pan, add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the turmeric and the ground cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for a further minute, then add the lentils, passata and stock. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in the yoghurt and the chopped coriander.
Place the lentils in the centre of a large serving plate and put the chickens on top, then pour the juices from the frying pan over the chickens. Garnish with coriander cress or baby coriander.