I don’t know any other dish that pleases the crowd, wins over hearts and fits every occasion, from birthdays to festive celebrations, as perfectly as a roasted chicken does. Every culture, every region, even every family has a favourite recipe. So what sets this Goan Chicken Cafreal Roast apart and gives it its unique identity?

I call it the green equivalent of Portuguese peri peri chicken. It has a very generous quantity of coriander or cilantro going in the marinade. In fact the whole robust taste of the chicken revolves around this herbilicious flavour. Yes, it’s spicy too as a whole lot of heat is going in from ginger, garlic, green chilli peppers, black peppercorns and other spices. The tang from lemon hugely compliments the herbs and spices, creating a dish that not only smells divine but is a memorable treat for the tastebuds. But of course you can always adjust the heat to suit your taste.

Galinha Cafreal or African Chicken has its roots in the Portugal occupied part of Africa. It was introduced by the African soldiers in the Portuguese army to the Indian subcontinent when they conquered Goa. Hence the name and the unique blend of spices and herbs!

Traditionally the chicken with this green marinade was grilled, then the convenience of stove top cooking and frying replaced outdoor grilling for most home cooks. I use the same marinade to bake my Chicken Cafreal Roast as it’s convenient, hassle-free, one-pot meal solution, minus the calories from frying. Baking the chicken covered in marinade keeps it extra moist and juicy, and fall-off-the-bones-tender.

Instead of serving it with potato fries, which is the norm, you can add some root vegetables to the same dish, tucked around the chicken or roast them separately to serve with it for a complete, healthy and delicious meal.

Tip: For Shallow frying or grilling, you will need to marinate the chicken for a few hours but in oven roasting in a foul sealed pan, there is no need to plan hours ahead. The roast will cook in its own juices and flavourful marinade, and will come out totally delicious.

1+1/2 kg chicken cut ups, whole chicken or drumsticks
A big bunch coriander/cilantro (almost 2 cups after chopping)
8-10 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
4 green chilli peppers
1/2 cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves
1 small stick cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 heaped teaspoon black peppercorn
salt to taste

This Is What You Do:
Dry roast cloves, cinnamon, cumin and black peppercorns on a skillet. Pound in a mortar and pestle or grind in an electric grinder.

Add coriander, garlic, ginger, green chilli peppers, lemon juice and olive oil to the food processor. Add the dry spice mix and salt. Make a smooth paste.

Place chicken in a deep over proof dish or casserole pan. Make incisions in the thick parts of the chicken so that it can absorb flavours better. Pour the green marinade all over it, rub with your hands to cover the chicken completely in marinade.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or ,if you want to prep ahead, even a night before but you can chuck this straight into the oven too. Since the chicken is going to be cooked in its own juices, and steam inside the pan, it will turn out flavourful any ways.

Preheat oven at 200 degrees C.

Seal the pan tightly with foil, bake covered for an hour.

Remove from oven, baste the chicken with the juices and marinade in the pan.

Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes or till the roast gets a nice brown colour on the outside.

Serve with potato fries or even better with baked vegetables and lemon wedges.

Serves 5

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