Tandoori Cornish Hen

Cornish hen is marinated in a tandoori inspired yogurt sauce, then roasted on high heat. It’s served with saffron rice, a lovely spiced acorn squash purée, and mint chutney. Once the sauces are prepped- cook and plating time is a short 25 minutes.

yields 2 plates

Mint Chutney

A sharp and spicy mint sauce. Can be made in advance.

Cardamom Acorn Squash Purée

can be made in advance

  • 1 small acorn squash

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1/2 t ginger powder

  • 1/4 t cardamom

  • 1/4 t tumeric

  • 1/4 t cinnamon

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 6oz)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut acorn squash in half, and remove seeds. Coat squashes with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut-side down onto a foil lined sheet pan; place in oven. Roast squash for about 30 minutes, until tender. Once it has cooled, scoop out the squash and add to a your blender (discard the peel), along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

marinade cornish hens for 6-24 hours

  • 1 cornish hen - spatchcock - backbone removed

  • 1/2 C yogurt

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1 T tandoori masala seasoning

  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped

  • 1/2 lime (juice)

  • 1/4 t mustard powder

  • 1/4 t turmeric

  • 1 t honey

  • 1/2 t salt

Combine yogurt, oil, garlic, honey, lime juice, and seasonings in a small bowl. Cover the entire spatchcocked hen with marinade, cover and refrigerate for 6-24 hours. Place a large cast iron pan in oven and preheat to 425°F.  While oven and pan are heating, remove cornish hen from fridge.  Once oven reaches 425°F, take cast iron pan out of oven, remove hen from marinade- letting any excess drip off; discard marinade. Place the bird- breast-side up (no oil or additional fat is needed) in the hot cast iron.  Roast hen for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.  Remove cornish hen from oven and remove from cast iron pan.  Allow the bird to become cool enough to handle, then using a sharp knife- cut the bird in half along where the backbone was; set aside. 

Saffron Rice

this can be made while the cornish hen is roasting

  • 1 cup of long grain rice

  • 2 cups of water, plus 2 T water

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1 T butter

  • pinch of saffron

Place 2 cups of water, olive oil, and salt in a medium non-stick saucepan.  Heat on high until water is boiling.  Add rice, stir.  Continue to cook until rice tastes about 3/4 of the way done, almost al dente.  Strain rice and set aside.  Put sauce pan back on stove on low heat; add butter, remaining 2 T of water, and pinch of saffron.  Add strained rice back to pot.  Cover pot with two paper towels (careful not to let edges of paper towels come to close to burner) and fit pan lid on tightly.  Steam rice for about 15 minutes, check for doneness; cook longer if needed.  Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Tandoori Cornish Hen Plating:

  • mint chutney

  • cardamom acorn squash

  • saffron rice

  • roasted cornish hen, split

  • mint leaves

Spoon acorn squash in the shape of a large oval on to both of your plates. Split the saffron rice- piling 1/2 directly onto the squash. Place the cornish hens on top of the rice. Spoon mint chutney on to the bird and around the rice. Finish the plate with mint leaves, cracked pepper, and flake salt.


cocktail: Twig & Plums

beer: American IPA. A hoppy beer works nicely here- the hops intensify the soft spice from the chickens marinade and the chile in the chutney, while balancing the sweetness from the squash purée. Some beers to look for: Bells Two Hearted, Cigar City Jai Alai, Ithaca Flower Power, Maine Beer Lunch.