Isn’t the very sound of it heartwarming?! Maple. Lavender. Chicken. Roast. Aah!!! Now chicken roast is like a blank canvas, you can paint it to be anything from downright boring and dry to a glossy, juicy, flavourful masterpiece. This one certainly turns out to be the later and with unbelievable convenience too.

The best thing about chicken dinners is that they are quick to cook, versatile, appeal to more palates and make economical family meals. Whenever I cook chicken, I try to keep the procedure as simple as possible and still create maximum flavour with minimum ingredients. This wholesome and delicious dish of Maple Lavender Chicken Roast was created entirely from the ingredients from my kitchen garden and a few that were already in the fridge.

The idea started with maple syrup. I knew, combined with vinegar, it would instantly make a luscious, sweet n sour sauce with a smoky, caramelised edge. But something was lacking, something that would bring the whole thing together and raise it from just another quick chicken weekday dinner to a memorable festive meal. I went out to explore my little collection of herbs and there it was – the lavender bush right in front of the main door, sitting pretty but still unused. Of course! The light bulb turned on. My brain said, “Maple + Lavender = Gorgeous”.

Lavender has a very strong fragrance and flavour. It goes beautifully with many desserts, also with chicken and lamb. But it has to be used sparingly because it can overpower all the other ingredients easily, just a sprig or two of fresh lavender are quite enough in savoury dishes. If using dried culinary lavender, I would suggest to reduced the amount to half of what is called for in the recipe. As all dried herbs are more potent than fresh buds and leaves.

For those who are not familiar with its flavour, it is somewhat like a mix of rosemary and mint, but milder than both. If you can’t find culinary lavender where you live, you can replace it with rosemary and mint too, dried or fresh. I have found it to be a very easy plant to grow at home and I’m someone who doesn’t even have a green thumb.

4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
salt to taste
2 sprigs fresh lavender or 1/2 teaspoon dry culinary lavender
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into quarters
6 small carrots, peeled
8 red radishes

This Is What You Do:

Mix maple syrup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, ginger and garlic paste, black pepper, red chilli flakes, olive oil and salt in a bowl to make the marinade.

Add chicken pieces and completely coat them with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, for best flavours overnight.

Preheat oven at 180 degrees C.

Spread chicken pieces in a single layer on an oven proof dish. Pour all the marinade over them.

Place a lavender sprig on top or sprinkle dried lavender. Cover the pan with a foil sheet to keep the steam in. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove the foil, add vegetables. Baste the chicken and vegetables with the liquids in the pan. Bake uncovered another 15 minutes or till the chicken and vegetables are charred on top and the sauce thickens.

Garnish with a few lavender leaves or fresh sprig, if available.

Serve hot with your favourite bread or on its own.

Serves 4

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