Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

 

Tandoori Cornish Hen

After many years of wanting to make cornish hen, I finally mustered up the courage to experiment. I figured that with the accompaniments I planned to serve, we would at least have other things to eat if the meat didn’t turn out right. Let me just say that I should have made this a looooong time ago!! The chicken was moist, full of flavor, and falling off the bones. My 10 year old would have probably eaten a whole cornish hen if I let him :).

NOTE: Please take a few minutes to read the recipe before deciding if it’s easy or too complicated based on the number of steps below. I’ve laid out everything step-by-step, hence the long write up. In honesty, the whole process is pretty straight-forward and relatively easy. The only hard thing in my opinion is having to wait about 24 hours before eating.

Oven Roasted Tandoori Cornish Hen

(Serves 4)

  • 2 cornish hens – about 1 lb each (I buy the 4-packs from Costco)
  • 2-3 Tbsp oil / butter

FOR THE BRINE:

  • 32 oz buttermilk (about 4 cups)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken)
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 4 black cardamom pods (moti elaichi) / 6 green cardamom pod
  • 2-3 Tbsp salt (or more to taste)

1) Remove the plastic inserts from the cornish hens and wash inside & out thoroughly. Drain well.

2) Meanwhile, in a lidded container big enough to hold both birds, add all the brine ingredients and mix well. It should be on the saltier side, but don’t worry – the chicken will only absorb a little.

3) Gently immerse the hens into the brine, making sure that the brine fills the cavity and covers the whole bird. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.

FOR THE MARINADE:

  • 1/2 packet tandoori masala of choice (I mixed in a bit of red food coloring, but this is optional)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 1Tbsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon / lime juice

4) Next morning, mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust salt & lemon juice as needed.

5) Remove the chicken from the brine and pick away any whole spices sticking to it. Set aside on a plate and discard the remaining brine.

6) Evenly spread the chicken with the tandoori marinade, making sure to get under the skin and in the cavity*** (see note at bottom of post). (Do not slather the marinade on in thick layers as it will be doughy and bitter when cooked. Spread generously but evenly.)

7) Return to empty brine container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. You can flip the bird over once or twice while marinating (optional), and return to the refrigerator.

TO COOK THE CHICKEN:

  • 2-3 large red potatoes
  • 1 medium green pepper (capsicum)
  • 1-2 large red onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

8) Remove chicken from the refrigerator and set at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

9) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375*F.

10) Chop the red potatoes, peppers & onion into large chunks and toss with oil, salt & pepper.

11) Place in the bottom of a roasting pan sprayed lightly with oil (you can line the pan with foil for easy cleanup).

12) Use twine to gently tie the chicken legs at the ‘ankles’ :)). Poke a toothpick through each wing into the breast meat to keep the wing from spreading & getting burnt while cooking. [Google “how to truss a chicken” for more info]

13) Place the hens on the roasting rack**(see note at bottom of post). Brush/spray lightly with oil or butter, and cover lightly with foil.

14) Bake for about 35-40 minutes covered. Remove the foil, baste with some remaining marinade, turn the roasting rack around, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Watch closely to ensure that the meat does not turn dry. Chicken is done when the juices start to run clear.

15) Remove from the oven and gently drape the foil on the chicken (DO NOT SEAL). Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with mint chutney and/or raita. For other accompaniments, check out my Desi Holiday Feast post.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

NOTE: I don’t like poking holes in the chicken before marinating as I feel it lets the juices run out and dry the meat while cooking. You can do it if you prefer, but the cook times may need to be adjusted.

If you do not have a roasting rack to cook the cornish hen, you can crumple up aluminum foil or layer on root vegetables on the bottom of the tray to keep it away from the juices.

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Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

As promised – here is the next easy appetizer idea. Most Indians will be familiar with some version of this carrot salad. You can add in seeded & finely chopped tomatoes, or sprouted mung beans. I have just added a small twist to how it’s served. Cocktail Papadums (mini papads) are available at most Indian grocery stores. If not, you can use tortilla chips / scoops.

These papads and the salad can be made ahead of time and assembled just before serving. Hope this helps make your entertaining easier :)).

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

Cocktail Papadums & Carrot Salad

(serves 4-6)

  • 1/2 packet cocktail papadums (fried and drained)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled & grated)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1-2 green chillies (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 Tbsp cilantro (finely chopped)
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 1 medium tomato (seeded & finely diced) – optional
  • 1/2 cup sprouted mung beans – optional

This recipe is more a guide than an actual measurement:

1) Fry cocktail papadums and drain on paper towels. Store in a paper towel lined air tight container for up to 2 days. (If you cannot find mini papadums/papads,  I suppose you could get away with tortilla chips/scoops.)

2) In a bowl, mix together the grated carrots, onion, green chillies and mung beans (if using). Refrigerate till ready to serve.

3) Just before serving, add the salt, lemon juice & tomato and gently mix with a fork. (Remember that tomatoes will release moisture and make the carrot mix soggy after a while. I generally avoid it if I expect the mix to sit for a while.)

4) Serve in a bowl on a plate with the papads. Guests can fix their own bite size snack.

Cocktail Papadums

Growing up, this was something we occasionally had as Sunday breakfast to give my mom a break from cooking. We slathered our bread with ghee and toasted it on the griddle till it was golden and crunchy, and topped it with this spicy carrot salad. I still enjoy this salad, but without the bread!

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

 

 

Cottage Cheese is a calcium rich protein powerhouse, and spinach, as we all know, is one of the wonder-foods packed with iron and fiber. I have tasted methi masala rotis before, and had heard of using cottage cheese to make rotis soft. When I came across a recipe for spinach cheese parathas at Saffron Hut, I wanted to try them. I changed the recipe to make just rotis without the stuffing. I was surprised at how nicely they fluffed up while cooking, and they kept beautifully for a few days in the refrigerator. Reheating was as easy as putting them on a hot griddle for a few minutes each side. This breakfast is on regular rotation in my family.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

(8-10 rotis)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves (packed)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • few spoons oil to cook rotis

1) In a large food processor bowl, add cottage cheese, spinach, chilli, cumin & turmeric powders and salt. Puree till well mixed.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

 

2) Add the whole wheat flour and pulse few times till a dough forms. DO NOT ADD WATER.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

3) Set aside covered in a bowl for 10 minutes. Check to see if the dough is too dry or soft, and add cottage cheese or flour as needed. Set aside covered for another  15-20 minutes.

4) Knead lightly and form into 8-10 balls.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

5) Roll out into thin rotis and cook on a hot griddle, brushing with some oil on both sides.

Spinach Cottage Cheese Roti

6) Serve with some yogurt or a pat of butter.