Tandoori Cornish Hens

Click to enlarge

I love tandoori chicken so much and there are so many recipes out there for the spice blends for it, I never tire of trying new ones!  This one is my latest experiment.  It was a recipe I found in a magazine a long time ago and finally got around to making it, with a couple of modifications.  If you bake this recipe in your oven, rather than grilling over charcoal, I like to put some sliced onions in the bottom of the pan with some olive oil the last half hour of baking and de-glazed the pan brown bits with some water over stove-top burner on low for a nice sauce.    This can also be done with regular cut-up chicken pieces or just wings (which will cook much faster!).   To be more traditional, if your way of eating allows it, add 2-3 drops of food coloring to the marinate, for the traditional red hue in the picture, but this step is optional.  This is not necessary for the flavor to be spot on, however.

This chicken pairs nicely with Indian Creamed Spinach (Saag Paneer) and my Indian Cauliflower.

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2 Cornish hens (about 1¼ lb. each) or 8 cut pieces of chicken

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. salt (optional but included in stats below)

Pinch black pepper

1 T. fresh lime juice

½ c. sour cream or plain yogurt

1 large clove minced garlic

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

¼ medium onion, chopped

½ tsp. cumin seed (or ¼ tsp. ground)

½ tsp. ground turmeric

DIRECTIONS:  Split the Cornish hens into halves or cut up 4 of your desired whole chicken pieces.  You can skin the chicken if you like, but I never do.  I LIKE the skin!  Poke holes randomly in the skin, piercing through into the flesh as well.  Mix salt, pepper and cayenne with lime juice and rub onto the pieces of meat.   Set aside while you do the next step.

In a blender or food processor, puree the yogurt, garlic, ginger, onion,  and remaining spices.  Add optional 2-3 drops red food coloring (if using). Spoon into gallon plastic zip bag and add chicken to the bag.  Zip bag and mix to coat meat pieces by manipulating with your hands.  Refrigerate for 6-8 hours, manipulating occasionally during this period.

Tandoori Chicken, in India, is cooked in a Tandoori clay oven, which I certainly do not have.  However a medium-hot charcoal fire will do nicely.  But if neither is available, preheat your indoor oven to 400º.  Place hen quarters skin up onto grill surface or on a rack in a roasting pan.  Brush or spoon the yogurt marinate evenly over the pieces of meat.  Depending on your charcoal fire, distance from coals to meat, or your oven accuracy, size of birds…….these hens will take about 45 minutes to an hour to get done.  Test the thigh joints for internal temp of 180º on a meat thermometer or until juices are clear and not pink.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Serves 4, each serving contains:

381 calories, 23.4 g  fat, 9.2 g  carbs, 0.4 g  fiber, 8.8 g  NET CARBS, 31.83 g  protein, 377 mg  sodium


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