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Sunday Supper & More

Small birds boast big flavor, as does biryani salad

Cornish hens (Sally Pasley Vargas for the Boston Globe)
Start with Cornish hens with exotic spices
Harvest biryani salad (Sally Pasley Vargas for the Boston Globe)
End with Harvest biryani salad
By Sally Pasley Vargas
Globe Correspondent / September 22, 2010

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Cornish hens, sometimes called game hens or poussins, are not game birds at all, but rather small chickens bred specifically to be sold whole for a single-size serving. In fact, they’re very appealing and a nice digression from roasting larger birds. Add a rub of Indian spices mixed with yogurt and lots of ginger and the dish is nice enough to move from the family table to a menu for guests. The long list of ingredients might be intimidating, but most of your efforts will go to shopping; all the spices are available in well-stocked supermarkets. The idea is to try flavors you may not already know.

Pull the meat off the bones of leftover hens and use them in biryani, a rice dish with countless variations throughout South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. In this version, grapes and toasted almonds pay tribute to the harvest and add sweetness and crunch. You can also make the dish with brown basmati rice (it takes about 45 minutes to cook). After you try this salad biryani, use it as the base for other leftover meats and vegetables, served hot or at room temperature. You’ll have eased an interesting dish into your nightly repertoire rather effortlessly.

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.vargas@mac.com.

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