Spiced Roasted Cornish Hen w/ Brown Rice Pilaf

by Kiran on November 23, 2011 · 50 comments

in Celebration, Entree, Sides, Thanksgiving

Before we move onto the recipe, the Husband wants to convey to each and every one of you who wished him well.


He is doing so much more better than a few days ago — apart from a slightly scratchy throat, he is solid.

I meant that in a good way, honey“.


I bet you are busy brining a turkey and prepping for Thanksgiving side dishes. Just the thought of delicious gravy has my stomach growling.

Ok, so most of the recipes here are often featured as spiced. I admit, guilty as charged. I just can’t part with spices for long. It’s as though as I am born with spices ingrained into my DNA.


I am not only crazy for spices, but a total opposite when it comes to turkey. I can’t even picture myself slaughtering a beautiful turkey.

Or any meat for that matter.

Me? Slaughtering? Ugh!!!

On the other hand, chicken is way easier for me and my palpitation. I am not being biased with chicken or anything – it’s seems so much more easier.

Don’t cha think?

Enough of me blabbering. Let’s get back to roasting.

So, in lieu of our efforts to blend in with the society Thanksgiving celebrations, I present to you my very first attempt at roasting a whole cornish hen.

Read it correctly.

Not hand.

But, HEN.

Try balancing spices with a nice bowl of fresh cool yogurt, topped with pomegranate arils.

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Spiced Roasted Cornish Hen


  • 1 whole cornish hen, skin on!
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 carrots, chopped at angle
Spice mix
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp red chili powder (reduce if prefer less spicy)
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tbsp black cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tbsp star anise, crushed/powdered
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • a few pieces of rosemary
  • a few pieces of whole black pepper
  1. Wash and thoroughly pat dry the cornish hen. Empty the insides and place it on a baking tray.
  2. In a bowl, add spice mix ingredients and mix to incorporate.
  3. Salt and pepper hen under its skin (carefully not to tear it apart) to impart seasonings. This is crucial to ensure the meat doesn’t end up tasting bland.
  4. Using a pastry brush, spread ghee all over the hen and it’s crevices including the cavity.
  5. Rub spice mix blend generously on every nook and cranny of the hen, that includes the cavity.
  6. Shove 2 lemon wedges, 2 red onion wedges, a sprig of thyme and fresh rosemary into the cavity.
  7. Tuck each wing underneath hen to allow even roasting and avoid burning.
  8. Using a kitchen twine, cross drumsticks together and tie a knot to secure its cavity as close as possible.
  9. Place hen over a rack in a roasting pan. Allow to marinade for a minimum of 1 hour.
  10. Set oven on 375F, surround hen with carrots, remaining onion wedges & sprinkle on some fresh thyme and rosemary buds.
  11. Bake hen for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165F.
  12. Drizzle pan juices (not grease!) over hen and allow meat to rest before carving. Garnish with a sprig of thyme, a few rosemary buds, some whole black pepper & lemon wedges.

Who dare says you can never make a rice pilaf using brown rice. Who???

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Brown Rice Pilaf


  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp toasted cumin powder
  • 2 roasted red onion wedges, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme for garnish
  1. Using 2 roasted red onions from cornish hen roasting pan, chop and mix all brown rice pilaf ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Serve room temperature garnish with fresh thyme.



Dancing Turkey

What do you enjoy sinking your teeth into? Turkey or chicken? Or both?

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gayatri November 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Kiran. This looks delicious. I’m vegetarian but my husband prefers chicken over turkey.


2 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Thanks, and so glad you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving spread of delicious foods!


3 sukanya November 23, 2011 at 3:32 PM

happy thanksgiving Kiran, cornish hens looks perfect to the core, even if it is your first time, u cook it like a pro. sometimes back i prepare the cornish hens much the same way and with fried brown rice to go with it…coincidence or great minds thinks alike … :) I may try some turkey breast tomorrow.
sukanya recently posted..apple cranberry cinnamon rolls / buns


4 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Thanks dear — I agree, great minds think alike 😉 Hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving, dear.


5 Divya November 23, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Happy Thanksgiving Kiran! This looks like a lovely meal for a wintery cold day. I love how you spice everything, I’m the same. It’s in our DNA..haha!
Divya recently posted..Beauty Eats-Choco-coco truffles with cherries


6 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM

I am so happy! I thought I was alone in spicing everything 😀


7 kankana November 24, 2011 at 7:08 AM

glad to know your hubby is feeling better now :) This roasted hen looks lovely and the spice mix you used is fantastic. I am sharing this with a friend of mine who was hoping to roast a full chicken with Indian spice mix.
kankana recently posted..Healthy Oatmeal Cookies – Guest Post by Sonia @ My Creative Flavor


8 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Thanks for sharing this recipe and here’s hoping your friend would love it :) Have fun vacationing!


9 balvinder November 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Glad that your husband is better . It does not look like that you have roasted this Cornish hen first time. It looks so perfect and a great combination with brown rice. You are officially on my blogroll now.
balvinder recently posted..Stir fry Broccoli


10 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Thanks, the Husband is feeling well now :) and so nice of you to include us on your blogroll! Have a great week, honey.


11 Katherine Martinelli November 25, 2011 at 2:02 AM

Everything looks just wonderful!! And I’m happy to hear your husband is feeling better :-)


12 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 25, 2011 at 6:40 AM

Good to hear that he is better! And I am also in love with spice so I know that I’d love this! 😀


13 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 10:48 PM

Thanks a lot honey – if you are roasting a chicken soon, do try this recipe and let me know how it tastes :)


14 Nava Krishnan November 25, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Very nice outcome with the cornish hen but I love the dessert more, its simple and lovely. Hope your hubby will recover 100% soon Kiran.
Nava Krishnan recently posted..Spicy Chickpeas & Long Beans


15 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Thanks dear, the Husband is now fully recovered. What a relief :) There weren’t any dessert in this recipe. The Pom yogurt is to cool off during meal :)


16 Angie@Angiesrecipes November 25, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I love cornish hens…used them mostly making some chicken soup. The pilaf must have tasted great accompanied with the roasted hen.
Angie@Angiesrecipes recently posted..Poppy Thumbprints with Lemon Curd


17 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM

I love cornish hens too — especially for small servings. That pilaf was as tasty :)


18 Ann November 25, 2011 at 8:54 PM

This looks delicious! Spicy…but the yogurt should cool it off nicely! Your pictures are stunning as well! I imagine it was SO tasty! Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!
Ann recently posted..Oven Fried Chicken


19 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 10:58 PM

Thanks a lot, dear — And here’s hoping you had a very Happy Thanksgiving :)


20 easyfoodsmith November 26, 2011 at 3:44 AM

Like you, my family loves chicken. I am feeling inspired seeing your post…need to give a shot at roasting whole hen.


21 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:01 PM

Thanks, honey — I had my anxiety’s roasting whole chicken. The key is to start small. Cornish hen is perfect for this delicious experiment. Give it a try and let me know how it tastes :)


22 Glamorous Glutton November 26, 2011 at 12:29 PM

That spiced chicken looks delicious. We eat a lot of chicken and finding a new way of cooking it is always good. Chicken, here, often tastes of very little and it’s only the spices that make it have any flavour at all. GG
Glamorous Glutton recently posted..Boned, Stuffed Pheasant


23 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Welcome to Recipebox and thanks for your lovely comments :) It’s a twist to regular roasted chicken. Do try this recipe and let us know how it tastes :)


24 mycookinghut November 26, 2011 at 2:22 PM

The brown pilaf rice looks good to go with the roasted chicken! I can eat chicken anytime!
mycookinghut recently posted..pumpkin pie recipe & happy thanksgiving!


25 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:09 PM

Thanks dear — looking forward to your lovely book 😉


26 Khushboo November 27, 2011 at 3:41 AM

Cornish hens are delicious- I actually prefer turkey to chicken but still enjoy the latter :)! This meal looks wonderful–> it reminds me of this roast chicken my mom used to make when we were younger: she would stuff it with a rice pilaf and we would have it almost every Sunday for lunch! On that note, I just bookmarked this recipe!
Khushboo recently posted..Attitude of Gratitude


27 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Thanks for bookmarking this recipe and sharing your memories, dear :) Do let me know how it tastes as and when you make it.


28 Hotly Spiced November 27, 2011 at 6:30 AM

That looks like a fabulous recipe. I will definitely try it. I love the combo of chicken with rice.
Hotly Spiced recently posted..‘It’s a Write-Off’


29 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Thanks a lot — do let me know how it tastes :)


30 Simply Life November 27, 2011 at 6:51 AM

oh this is so impressive! happy thanksgiving!
Simply Life recently posted..Our Trip To Europe!


31 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Thanks honey, and enjoy your vacation — at least I am enjoying reading your recaps and drooling at all those delicious photos 😀


32 Melanie @ Melanie Cooks November 27, 2011 at 1:04 PM

That roasted hen looks perfect. So nicely browned!
Melanie @ Melanie Cooks recently posted..Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes Recipe


33 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I’ve never roasted a whole hen before — but loved this outcome so much!! Thanks, my dear friend :)


34 anh@anhsfoodblog.com November 27, 2011 at 9:10 PM

Oh I wish I were at your house to enjoy this beautiful feast!
anh@anhsfoodblog.com recently posted..Fried brown rice with Shiitake mushrooms. And a walk in CloudeHill.


35 Kiran November 29, 2011 at 11:39 PM

Thanks honey — I would have loved, being in your presence :)


36 Emily Malloy @Cleanliness November 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Totally yummy!
Emily Malloy @Cleanliness recently posted..Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap-Graham Cracker Crust


37 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Thanks a lot sweetie :)


38 The Elegant Eggplant November 28, 2011 at 12:35 PM

This is SOOOO beautiful and it is making me starving! I love everything about this dish.
The Elegant Eggplant recently posted..Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes


39 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Thanks a lot dear :)


40 Asmita November 28, 2011 at 4:15 PM

The photographs look amazing! I love the spices you have used especially the star anise. This chicken must taste awesome.


41 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM

You are way too kind honey — and thank you so much for those lovely comments.

In my personal opinion, anything spiced would taste delicious 😉


42 Nami | Just One Cookbook November 29, 2011 at 4:03 AM

Sorry that I missed your previous post and didn’t know your husband wasn’t feeling well. I hope he already recovered or is recovering fast. Kiran, your photography is amazing! I usually check the pictures first before taking look at the detail recipes but I was already so hungry during looking at your yummy photos! Your photography tells how great these dishes are. Amazing.
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Spicy Shoyu Ramen


43 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Please don’t be sorry. The Husband is recovered now, thank you!

Sweetie, thanks a lot for the compliments — Your photos are amazing, with all the props. I am still learning, with my kit lens. Believe it. Hahaha!!! Good news is I am getting my macro lens today!! Yay 😀


44 Rosa November 29, 2011 at 6:13 AM

Scrumptious! I love pilaf rice.

Lovely clicks.




45 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Me too! Thanks honey :)


46 Heavenly Housewife December 1, 2011 at 8:34 AM

So glad to hear your hubs is on the mend! It must be all the good eating :D. Can you please invite me over for dinner?
*kisses* HH
Heavenly Housewife recently posted..Baking Frustrations, a Soothing Cup of Tea, and Faries


47 Kiran December 2, 2011 at 4:08 PM

Thanks sweetie — the Husband is well now! You are always welcome for dinner, no invitation needed 😀


48 Harsha December 7, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Loved the last four pics so much! Brilliant shots. I didn’t know that Brown Rice can look so yum :)
Harsha recently posted..Review: Rockstar


49 Kiran December 8, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Thanks a lot dear :)


50 Amanda Hughes December 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM

This looks unbelievably good !! Pretty sure it tasted the same way ! Keep up the good cooking Kiran 😀
Amanda Hughes recently posted..Fixodent Samples


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