Roast Chicken Cafreal Recipe

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Tangy, spicy and juicy is how I like to call this roast version of Goan Chicken Cafreal recipe. Just one green paste of fresh cilantro and spices is all you need to make this healthy low carb chicken dish. 


Those who have been to the small Indian state of Goa  may already be familiar with this delicious Goan chicken dish known as chicken Cafreal.

It’s a special chicken recipe with the roots belonging to the Portuguese.

This Cafreal chicken recipe is a classic example of how the Indian cuisine has been influenced by colonial flavours . There is so much about traditional Indian cuisine that many are unaware of and impossible for any cookbook to consolidate.

I have slightly changed the cafreal curry to a drier spicy roast chicken version just to proof a point that not all Indian food has to be a curry 🙂 

Ingredients for Chicken Cafreal Recipe

The traditional Goan recipe involves making a green chicken gravy with coriander leaves and spices . I have made the same green paste  but just enough to make a thick marinade instead of a gravy base.

The ingredients you will need to make Goan Cafreal Style Chicken roast are:


Chicken with bones without skin  – It tastes best if made with whole or jointed pieces of chicken with bones.

Coriander or Cilantro leaves  – This is the star so you will need lots.



Green chillies

Vinegar or tamarind pulp  or lemon juice


Salt to taste



Coriander seeds

Cinnamon stick

Cumin seeds

Black peppercorn

Green cardamom


Red Chilli Powder

Poppy seeds – to make the marinade thick as add texture

Here is a snap shot of the spices, missed few of them from the image though.

Spices for chicken cafreal


Substitute for tamarind – You can use vinegar or lemon juice instead

Substitute for coriander seeds – ground coriander power

Substitute for cumin seeds – ground cumin powder

Substitute for green chilles – use fresh red birds eye chillies or chilli powder instead

Substitute for poppy seeds – You can use cashewnuts if you wish or skip them completely ,


The use of chilli powder and turmeric are optional in this recipe. You can omit both is you like.

Skip using poppy seeds. They lend a creamy thickness and texture to the paste 

How to Make Chicken Cafreal – Method with images

Since this is a roast style cafreal chicken, I have made two marinades to ensure depth of flavours.

Read the cooking notes and FAQ section below for tips to make amends to the recipe to make a Goan chicken cafreal with green gravy.


Make the fist marinade

Make deep cuts into the chicken. Marinade the chicken in chilli powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice, salt , ginger and garlic paste.

Set aside for 15 – 30 minutes.

Marinate chicken with spices


Make the green spice marinade 

In a blender add all the ingredients listed under green paste marinade.

Made a smooth paste and set aside.

Ingredients for chicken cafreal in a blender

The paste should look something like this

Chicken cafreal green paste


Marinade chicken with 2nd marinade

Cover the chicken with the green paste and rub it well into the chicken and marinade for a minimum of 2 hours.

Marinade chiken cafreal


Bake Chicken

Pre-heat oven on 180 degrees Celsius  ( 356 Fahrenheit) and bake the chicken until cooked. ( read cooking notes for best baking suggestions).

Serve Roast Goan Cafreal Chicken with a side of your choice.

Goan Careal chicken

Cooking Notes and FAQ’s 

This chicken is best made with skinless chicken pieces. This helps the spices penetrate deep into the chicken. 

Prick or make deep cuts into the chicken to allow the marinade to go right into the chicken 

To decrease prep time, you can skip the first marinade and add salt to the second marinade instead. 

For a juicy tender chicken,cover the chicken with a silver foil and bake on high for first 10 minutes. Then remove cover and bake for 10 minutes. You can finally finish by putting it under the grill/broiler for 5 minutes for a golden crusty top if you wish.

If you do not have all the ingredients read the substitute ingredients above for alternative ingredient that you can use. 

I suggest marinading the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight if possible for best flavour absorption. 

Chicken cafreal recipe pinterest image

How to Make Chicken Cafreal Curry ?

To make this dish with gravy all you need to do is double the amount of fresh coriander leaves or cilantro  and add another tablespoon of  vinegar to the recipe. Follow the cooking steps below for the gravy version of chicken cafreal:

  1. Heat oil in a pan, add the marinaded chicken and stir on high
  2. Cover and cook the chicken stirring and scraping the bottom from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the pan. 
  3. Simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked. Add a splash of water if the gravy gets too dry or 1/2 cup water if you wish to have more sauce. 
  4. Check the seasoning and serve with rice or bread.  

Can I make Cafreal Chicken with Skin?

Yes you can if you wish.  Just make sure you prick or make deep cuts into the chicken pieces and rub the marinade under the skin.  

Can I use Boneless Chicken Pieces ?

Of course you can. Most Indian chicken dishes  or meat dishes are made with bones. 

You can easily swap them for boneless pieces. However keep in mind that boneless pieces tend to dry out, so limit cooking time. 

How can I make Kids- Friendly Cafreal that is less spicy?

To make this cafreal chicken recipe less spicy, skip red chilli powder and/or reduce the amount of green chillies. 

Another option is to divide the green coriander spice paste into two parts:

For one part – prepare the entire green spice paste without the chillies, marinade half chicken with the paste  for a non-spicy version. 

For the next part – add chilli paste or red chilli powder to the remaining green paste and marinade for a spicier version.  

What to serve Roast Chicken Cafreal with ?

You can serve this dish with salad, raita or with naan

Where to buy Spices online?

Not sure if you can get all the spices listed in the recipe.

Buying all kinds of fresh spices cant get easier than buying them through online store at The Spice House and get them delivered to you directly.


Click here to discover the world of flavors at


Wish to master Spices and make Indian cooking Easy?

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Chicken on the bone skinless and jointed - 4 pieces
Garlic paste - 3 tsp
Ginger paste - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Vegetable/sunflower oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Vinegar - 2 tbsp or Lemon juice or 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
Coriander leaves with stems - 100 gms
Green chillies - 2
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cinnamon stick - ½ inch
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Black peppercorn - 1 tsp
Green cardamom - 5
*Ingredients Needed


Make deep cuts into the chicken. Marinade the chicken with chilli powder, turmeric powder, lemon juice, salt , ginger and garlic paste.
Set aside for 15 - 30 minutes.
In a blender add coriander leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, green chillies, cardamom,cinnamon, blackpepper,tamarind pulp,oil,sugar and blend into smooth paste. You can add a little water to help with blending but do not add too much.
Set the paste aside.
Cover the chicken with the green paste and rub it well into the chicken and marinade for a minimum of 2 hours or longer.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius  ( 356 Fahrenheit).
Cover the container with a silver foil and bake the chicken for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until cooked. ( read cooking notes for best baking instructions).
Serve Roast Goan Cafreal Chicken with a side of your choice.