Roast chicken with Indian spices and a pan gravy


If you ask me what is my least favorite meat, I wont have to think hard…it is chicken. When I was in India chicken wasnt an everyday affair. It was made only on special occasions and it tasted so good. American chicken is too bland for me..there is no 'taste' and it just tastes flat. The meat is almost like fibre…And among all this discontentment is when I found the cornish hen. These mini size chickens look so cute and taste wonderful..

I usually dont come up with recipes on my own..I usually follow recipes. Once I bought the cornish hen I wanted to do a Kerala/Indian style roast chicken and couldnt find any recipes and so I was on my own. I came up with a marinade and put everything in it that we use when we make a regular chicken curry and a few more. It was kind of an anxious moment when the chicken finally came out of the oven and we tasted it. It tasted really great…really! So here I am posting my first original recipe.


Cornish hen -one approx. 1 pound


Yogurt 1.5 tablespoon plus 1/2 tbsp.
Ginger minced 1tsp packed
Garlic minced 2tsp packed
Green chillies 1or 2
Lemon juice 1 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp
Pepper 5 turns of the pepper mill
Red chilly powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp packed
Turmeric a pinch

Clove 1
Cardamom 1
Fennel seeds 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon 1 small piece 1/4 inch
Water 2 tbsp.

Oil for frying 1.5tbsp
Curry leaves 2 sprigs

Grind the clove, cardamom, cinnamon and fennel to a powder.
Grind ginger,garlic and green chillies and add to the yogurt. Add the ground powder and rest of the ingredients to the yogurt and mix well to combine.

Usind a fork poke the chicken all over. This helps the chicken to absorb the marinade better.Apply the marinade to the chicken. Make sure the inner cavity gets coated with the marinade. I seperated the skin a little and applied some marinade between the skin and the meat.

Put the chicken in a ziplock bag. Meanwhile add some water to the container that had the marinade and give a good swirl to recover all the marinade from the sides and add another 1/2 tbsp yogurt to this. Pour this over the chicken in the plastic bag. Marinate for 2-3 hrs.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Add oil to a hot oven safe pan and lay the 2 sprigs of curry leaves. Over this place the chicken. Fry on each side till it is brown (5min on each side) and then transfer the chicken to the oven.


Cover the chicken with aluminium foil before placing it in the oven. Bake for about 45 to 60min. Check the chicken package for baking time. Or use a fork to test if the chicken is done. When the chicken is baking, there will be lot of juices that come out of the chicken. Spoon this over the chicken as it bakes (do this every 15min. or so). Once the chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 15min.

To make pan gravy

Onions thinly sliced 1/4 cup

Ginger julienned 5-6 juliennes
Tomato 1/2 of a small tomato
Curry leaves 2 leaves
Green chilly -1/4 chilly and slice thinly



After 15min resting time, transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Take the same pan that was used to cook the chicken with the remaining juices and place it over medium heat on the stove. Add all the above and let the gravy reduce for about 5min and then pour it over the chicken.


I had added couple of carrots to the pan when the chicken was in the oven. You can do potatoes or any other veggies you like.

Serve with bread or chappatis.

21 responses »

  1. Congrats on Your first only creation..I know too much how anxious u r to taste your own creation…Well my last recipe is also my own creation and it came out good…not so great as urs but I want to make a few additions next time…

  2. giniann:

    you mentioned that the chicken be covered in foil before it is roasted. you also mention later that it should be basted (is that the correct word?) with its own juices. question is, does one have to remove the foil during basting, and then re-wrap? i am quite the novice, please bear with me.

    also, do the cornish hens come with all their innards etc removed? after making the roast, does one have to carve it a la the thanksgiving bird?

    regarding flavorless chicken — i had the same experience with the tysons and the purdues — the chicken was flavorless to the extreme, and also very watery. i mean, it used to emit a lot of water while cooking. these days i get my chicken from the local whole foods. it is organic and quite flavorful.

    before i sign off, thanks a lot for all these recipes, especially for the photographs.

  3. Hi SS
    That is the longest comment I ever received..
    More than happy to clear it all up for you.
    The chicken is just loosely covered in foil and yes you lift up the foil to baste it and just put it back on loosely…

    The cornish comes cleaned and ready to be used..innards and all removed. Oh..and about carving..just go for it with your hands. The chicken is so tiny that there is no need to carve it…

    I also use organic chicken but cornish hen works because the meat is just enough for the two of us..I love small portions!

  4. giniann:

    thanks a ton. i may try this one this weekend if i can find out where to get cornish hens. if i can bring myself to try this, will let you know the results πŸ™‚


  5. Hi gini,
    Love the look of your blog πŸ™‚
    I think i might try your version, i think hubby would love this, he is a big chicken lover! Never baked a whole chicken anytime, think time has come πŸ™‚
    BTW: Do we get cornish hen in all American Grocery stores?

    Hi Karthi..Thanks. Cornish hen is generally found in all stores although there are times when I have gone looking for it and wasnt stocked….


  6. giniann:

    I tried this dish out today. When making the gravy, I forgot to add salt, resulting in a very bland gravy πŸ™‚ Other than it was OK, though I would have preferred to bit more Indian (read ‘spicy’). I think the chicken I had was heavier than one pound and so probably I need to modify the quantity of ingredients. I bought a twin pack of Cornish hens, and I have one left. I want to retry this.

    Question for you: Is it really necessary to cover the chicken with foil? Somewhere I read that covered dishes take longer time to cokk in an oven. Another website advises cooking the chicken at 475 degrees for the first 10 minutes to seal in the juices, though in our case browning would have done the same thing.

    @Karthi: Cornish hens are available in all supermarkets. I live in NJ. Bought mine (Tyson Rock Cornish Hen Twin Pack) from my neighborhood ShopRite. Hope this helps.

  7. Thanks for trying out the dish and feedback.
    The foil is basically used to prevent the chicken from drying out. If you dont want to use the foil, may be basting it more often may prevent it from drying.
    To make it more hot..try adding slit chillies to the gravy and may be more cayenne to the chicken in the marinade. When we made the dish we felt it was spicy enough and mildly hot…better luck with the saved cornish hen. Try adding some more ground pepper to the chicken after taking it out of the marinade.
    Would love to know how the second try went….

  8. I got a double pack of cornish hen from my grocery store and was looking arround for an indian recipe to try on. This sounds interesting. I am going to try out this now. Will let you know of my hubby’s commends.

  9. Hi! Giniann,

    Thank you very much for a wonderful recipe. I tried it out and was very successful although I used chicken breasts and not the whole chicken. My friends to were very happy too. I was cooking chicken for the very first time and am grateful to you for a wonderful recipe which I will be using for some time to come. Thank you once again.

  10. Hi giniann,

    This Sunday I was thinking of cooking chicken in English way with Indian spices.I had a look at your roast chicken and I feel very happy to have looked at the website.This is the first time I cooked and it came out very well and we spent the Sunday with this delicious meal.

    Thanks for the recipe

  11. Pingback: Rahul & Vani » Blog Archive » Roast chicken with Indian spices and a pan gravy

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  13. Looks, sounds and can bet it tastes fantastic need to try this one soon hmmm maybe this weekend or maybe for dinner to night.

    Thanks and congrats on your first creation

  14. Hey Ginian,

    Real honor to you! I am an Indian, preparing a roast chicken, and the recepe is all yours!!!! Well, Lucky me and lucky you coz I am preparing the roasted chicken for the very first time in my life… I never know how it is going to turn out, but hoping it will be better.

    Try a littlle bit of coco-nut milk for the gray you prepared, it turns any spicy gravys yummy…


  15. I’m doing this now, the chicken is in the oven. Smells good!

    I followed your recipe, but doubled and sometimes tripled your quantities as the marinade didn’t seem like it would be enough or flavourful enough, but apart from that, it’s the same. Smelling hopeful..

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  17. Wow. I made this the other night and my husband commented, “This is outrageous.” I couldn’t believe all the delicious flavors. I changed the amounts of the ingredients – i.e., I used 2 cups yogurt to start and was fairly generous with the other items. I loved crusing all the spices in my mortar & pestle. I don’t know what kind of green chilies you were talking about, so I used serano (with seeds and membrane). And the gravy!! I still can’t stop thinking about how delicious it was. Thank you for some of the best chicken I’ve ever made. πŸ˜€

  18. Pingback: Easiest Roasted Chicken

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