Masala Cornish Hen (Thanksgiving Feast)

A whole bird as a WOW factor, whether it’s a Hen, Chicken or a Turkey. Cornish Game Hens are easy to handle, very tender and juicy and the flavor of the meat is just incredible. A great alternative to the turkey at Thanksgiving and it definitely requires less work – this is a must try. The other reason why we love this dish is that the leftovers make a Fun, Fantastic, Fabulous, Flavorful Sandwich filling! It just does not get better than this 🙂
Happy Holiday to everyone!

Prep Time: 20 min
Marinating Time: 2 hours minimum
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 min
Serves: 2-3

Cornish Game Hen – 1 (or 2)
Potatoes – 2 medium, cubed
Carrots – 1, cut
Lemon or Lime Wedges – for garnish

“Dry Spice Mix”
Star Anise – 1
Cinnamon Stick – 1″ pc.
Whole Cloves – 4
Green Cardamom – 3
Black Cardamom – 1
Whole Black Pepper – 1/2 tbsp (or to taste)
Dry Red Chili – 2 (or to taste)
Coriander Seeds – 2 tbsp
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Black Cumin – 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds) – 1/4 tsp

-In a heavy-bottomed skillet, dry roast- Star Anise, Whole Cloves, Cinnamon Stick, Green Cardamom, Black Cardamom & Whole Pepper. Give them a couple of minutes.
-Add in the balance of the ingredients and allow them to roast and get a color. You should be able to get the aroma.
-Turn off the stove and transfer to a plate and allow them to cool down.
-Once cool, grind in a spice grinder and add Salt (approx 1 tsp) to taste.
-Mix well and keep aside.

“Wet Masala”
Canola Oil – 2 tbsp
Garlic Cloves – 6
Ginger – 1 tbsp (approx)
Green Chillies – 6 (or to taste)
Onion – 1/4 of a large onion
Cilantro – 12 sprigs (leaves and stems)

-Blend the above “Wet Masala” into a smooth paste without using any water.
-Add Salt (approx 1 tsp) to taste and set aside till ready to use.

1. Defrost the Cornish Hen in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Take it out of the packaging, wash and clean well.
3. Remove any innards and unwanted parts.
4. Use a paper-towel and pat dry the Hen very well, including the cavity.
5. Take a fork or a knife and poke hole in the Hen to allow the marinade to penetrate thru and flavor the Hen.
6. Apply the “Dry Spice Mix” in the cavity and between the skin and the flesh of the Hen.
7. Mix the balance of the “Dry Spice Mix” to the “Wet Masala”.
8. Rub the Marinade well all over the Hen.
9. Wrap the Hen in a Saran Wrap tightly and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if possible.
10. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
11. Prep and cube the Potatoes and the Carrots.
12. Lightly grease an oven proof metal or a glass dish to bake the Hen.
13. Place the Vegetables at the bottom and gently place the Hen on top.
14. Mix a little more marinade if any of the spots look dry.
15. Cover with a foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
16. Once done take it out and make sure the Hen is okay and not drying up. Baste with the sauce if needed.
17. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for another 45 minutes (checking every 15 minutes).
18. Once done, take the Hen out and move it to another oven-proof platter/dish.
19. It goes back into the oven on ‘high broil’ for 3-5 minutes till it gets a little color. Please keep an eye on it.
20. In a small skillet, pour the liquid and thicken it by cooking it down (or by adding the balance Masala mix or a little bit of Corn Starch).
21. Add the vegetables and allow the Masala to coat them and transfer to a serving platter (around the Hen).
22. Garnish with a few Lemon or Lime wedges and serve hot.

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32 thoughts on “Masala Cornish Hen (Thanksgiving Feast)

  1. Quick and easy recipe. I didn’t have sugar snap peas so used frozen peas instead. I didn’t make the dressing as I didn’t like the sound of it. I finished the dish with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of chilli oil. Very tasty.

  2. hi
    i m from bangladesh & i m new person on cooking world. this website is like my dreams come true . u bothtogether so helpful & i m sure i m gona learn from u many things. thank u very much.

  3. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    You girls are doing an awesome job through your website. I log into your website almost every other day to look for ideas and recipes for lunch/dinner/breakfast/snacks and always find something interesting to cook.

    I had a question for the cornish hen recipe. Can we use any medley of vegetables to go as a side dish or you think some of them might not do well in the oven? I was actually planning on using onions, bell pepper (green and yellow) and mushrooms in addition to potatoes and carrots.

    Thanks once again for posting these wonderful recipes. 🙂


    1. Hi Sapna,

      Sorry for the late reply…we were out on Thanksgiving break.

      Onion will work well but we don’t suggest using bell pepper and mushrooms as they release a lot of liquid and cook really fast.

  4. Hi Anuja,

    I like the way you nicely show all ur recipies. Thanks.
    I need to ask you , pls tell me how to make cake with the help of wheat flour and without eggs, this I want to know for my nephew and niece.

    Thanks & Rgds

    1. Hi Lekhita,

      We have an eggless chocolate cake recipe, however, we have not tried it with wheat flour. We also have a gluten free eggless chocolate cake you may be interested in. Please see our “Gluten Free” section.

  5. Wow this recipe is amazing! I made three small 2 lb whole chickens for Thanksgiving and followed this recipe and it was such a success! The meat was tender and following off the bone and best of all, it looked so impressive on our dinner table. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I will be sure to make this again!!

  6. Hi Hetal/Anuja,
    Wonderful recipe…I had got cornish hen for this thanksgiving n was searching for recipes to roast it….this was a timely post from you guys….
    I wanted to know how to check that the hen is cooked thoroughly without using the thermometer….as I dont have one…


    1. Hi Priya,

      You can pierce the thickest part of the hen with a fork or skewer and if the juices run clear, it is done. Also, if you are able to see the meat inside, it should be white, not pink.

  7. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    I just love this recipe. Just a quick tip, you can also add some big chunks of onions or pearl onions with the vegetables at the end of the cooking process on stove. That also add a great flavour and taste. Anyway, thanks for this wonderful recipe.

    1. Hi NE,

      The chicken will probably be bigger so the cooking time will be longer. You will have to get a thermometer and check the internal temp to be exactly sure of the cooking time.

  8. hi, great idea….i will make it….and let you know. if we substitute a whole chicken…how much time for baking? please advice.

    thanks for the great recipe…you both look awesome.

    1. Thanks Rizwana,

      Whole chicken will take longer because it is bigger but you would have to use a thermometer to be exactly sure of the time. Alternately, you can poke the thickest part of the chicken with a skewer and if the juices run clear and the meat is white (not pink), it is done.

  9. This recipe is absolutely awesome !! I’m vegetarian but i will give your website to all my friends for Thanksgiving spl recipe the DESI WAY…Superb girls.

    Hetal you look gorgeous !

    I have a suggestion: The segment at the begining is Good (recalling few epdisodes)

    At the end of the segment you can include some Blooper segment too. Its sort of funny and entertaining. Hope you will do it in future.

    1. Hi Sivaranjani,

      Yes, you could use this method for turkey as well. However, the texture of turkey is different than chicken or hen and the size is considerable larger. You will have to compensate with extra masala and longer cooking time.

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