Grilled Game Hens with Rose Petals – 2

From Matthew Altizer

2013 July/Aug

This recipe combines the delicate flavour of game hens with the heady aroma of rose petals. It may seem like a strange combination, but it works surprisingly well. Dried rose petals and rose petal jam are available at almost any Middle Eastern grocer or specialty food store. If you cannot find rose petal jam, a good alternative is quince paste thinned with rosewater. You can substitute any small bird – quail, squab, even partridge. Serve the birds as part of a meal or as a course on their own with a simple green salad.


  • 3 small game hens, backbones cut out with scissors, flattened and cut into two symmetrical pieces


  • 1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
  • 1 t. each ground cinnamon and ground cumin
  • 3 T. rosewater
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste


  • 3 T. rose petal jam
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 T. roughly chopped pistachios and/or dried rose petals to finish


Mix the marinade ingredients together and rub all over the hens. Place them in a dish and marinate for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. To make the sauce, mix the rose petal jam, garlic and cinnamon together in a bowl, then add the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat a grill over medium-high and cook the birds until slightly charred and just cooked throughout. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before serving with the sauce and pistachios or rose petals or both. Serves 6.