Chicken Cafreal

We love cilantro, and we know this is an acquired taste. So if you don’t like cilantro, we suggest you move on to another recipe. But if you are a cilantro devotee, you are in for a real treat. This recipe uses half a pound of this exquisite herb!

Floyd Cardoz in his book One Spice, Two Spice (2006) writes this dish comes from Goa, a Portuguese colony on the west coast of India since the time of the Portuguese sea captains about 500 years ago. Goa remained under Portuguese control until 1961, when it was annexed by India. The melding of the Portuguese and Indian influences works beautifully in this dish. We include the recipe as presented by Cardoz, but we grilled the chicken rather than oven roast. Either option is extremely tasty, and the color is amazing!


Two 2 1/2 to 3 lb. chickens or 5-6 lbs. chicken pieces, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 lb. cilantro (including stems with roots), coarsely chopped
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled ginger
1 mild to moderately hot fresh green chile, cut crosswise into pieces
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
4 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp kosher salt


Cut the backbones out of the chickens with a large heavy knife. (Freeze the backbones for making stock.) Crack the keel bone, in the center of each breast, so that the chickens lie flat. Lightly pierce the chickens all over with a kitchen fork.

Put the lime juice, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and chile in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Finely grind the cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon in an electric coffee spice grinder.

Put the cilantro puree in a large bowl and stir in the ground spices and salt. Put each chicken in the bowl and rub all over with the marinade. Refrigerate any left-over marinade.

Put each chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate. Marinate the chickens in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put a tiny amount of water (about 1/2 inch) in a 13 X 9-inch roasting pan and fit the chickens into the pan. Lightly pat any remaining marinade on top of the chickens.

Roast the chickens in the middle of the oven until done, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cut the chickens into serving pieces and serve the sauce from the pan juices on the side.
Serves 6.

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