Tandoori Cornish game hen is a flavorful dish for fall
From the October 2021 issue
Locals were thrilled in 2017 when Indigo, an Indian restaurant, opened in Rehoboth Beach. So, imagine their delight when Raas opened two years later. The area’s second Indian restaurant serves vibrant cuisine in a Queen Anne-style structure in downtown Lewes.
Wait: Basmati and kebobs in a historic town that celebrates its Colonial roots? It’s not a stretch. Victorian Britain had an influence on India’s architecture, cuisine — and politics. Raas chef Gyanendra Gupta was born in Lucknow, the northern Indian city that mutinied against British rule in 1857.
Gupta is familiar with beachside resorts. While with the Taj Hotels group, he opened the Vivanta brand in Goa, an international vacation destination. He also worked in Grenada and St. Lucia in the Caribbean.
The self-professed “mumma’s boy,” who learned his way around the kitchen at age 8, follows his own culinary muse. However, beach-area produce helps shape his menu. You might say the same about Sussex County’s main farm product: chicken. For this recipe, Gupta chose tandoori Cornish game hen. “The flavors are different and the best part is roasting it in a clay oven called a tandoor,” he says.
Although there are tandoors for home use, a regular oven will work fine for this dish, which is perfect for a fall dinner. If you’re inviting friends over, follow Gupta’s mantra that the “guest is God.”
“My mother always told me to never let anyone leave hungry from your door, because you never know when God is going to visit you and in which form,” he says.
Like many chefs, Gupta uses a kitchen scale to measure ingredients. Assemble them in advance so everything is ready and waiting. (Many of the exotic-sounding ingredients can be found on Amazon.)
TANDOORI CORNISH GAME HEN WITH SPICED TOMATO SAUCE
1 ounce of red chili paste
0.85 ounce of fresh garlic
0.85 ounce of fresh ginger
1 1-pound Cornish game hen
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
0.5 ounce of salt
1.6 ounces of mustard oil
6.5 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt
0.5 ounce of kasuri (also spelled kasoori) methi (dry fenugreekleaves)
2.1 ounces of garam masala powder
0.5 ounce of cumin powder
1 ounce of salted butter
1.4 ounces of chat masala
STEP 1 Make a paste by mashing the garlic, ginger, salt and red chili paste together. Divide in half.
STEP 2 Cut the Cornish game hen at the breast to create two pieces with a leg and thigh. Cut slits in both sections. Marinate for 30 minutes with half of the ginger, garlic and red chili paste. Add salt and lemon juice.
STEP 3 Mix together the mustard oil, yogurt, fenugreek leaves, cumin, salt, garam masala, and the remaining paste.
STEP 4 Place the hen in the marinade and put in the fridge for at least four hours.
STEP 5 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cook the marinated hen for 10 minutes.
STEP 6 Remove the hen, baste with melted butter and return it to the oven for four to five minutes until the hen reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees.
SPICED TOMATO SAUCE
3 ounces of red tomatoes, diced
1 ounce of broken up cashew nuts
1 ounce of white onions, diced
0.25 ounce of red chili powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of salted butter
75 milliliters (2.5 ounces) of water
1 teaspoon of cream
STEP 1 Add everything but the cream to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes.
STEP 2 Strain the mixture and cook the liquid for two minutes with the cream.
Place on a plate and sprinkle with lemon juice, more butter and chat masala. Serve with the spiced tomato sauce. (On each plate, Gupta adds snow peas, a baby carrot and a red potato, blanched and then sauteed in butter until done.)