Wonderful Christmas Time: Whole Roasted Duck with Kerala Spice Rub

Christmas Duck

Merry Christmas to all of you!!! As I sit on my bed writing this post, my home is still filled with the aroma of spices from this lovely duck roast that was our Christmas lunch.


In the spirit of Christmas, I, of course over-ate and right now am in the throes of falling into a food-induced coma. The kind that comes from feasting on the most delicious meal of the year.


This duck roast is simple enough to prepare. A spice rub (freshly ground, of course) is rubbed (duh!) onto the duck, the duck is refrigerated overnight  and then roasted for about 3 hours in a medium oven.


The result is crispy skinned duck, with flesh falling off the bone. Delicious and fragrant.


The fat from the duck is beautifully rendered and can be used for a variety of wonderful dishes. (Duck confit, ummm…)

Christmas Duck3

I used some of the duck fat to make a quick side dish: parboiled potatoes and carrots stir-fried in duck fat with some of the prepared spice rub. Yum!


The other side I prepared was a quick salad of plum tomatoes tossed with red onions and cilantro. Simple and complements the spices in the duck beautifully.


The spice rub consists of the spices usually used to prepare a dish in Kerala known as Tharavu roast, which is basically pan-roasted duck. In tharavu roast, the duck is cut into small pieces and cooked with spices, shallots and water.


I took the spices (fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns), made it into a rub and used it to make a whole duck roast. Makes for much better presentation, while still retaining the gorgeous, distinctive traditional taste.


The stupor is taking over and I can’t write anymore.

Here’s Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas, full of peace and joy!


And here is the recipe.

Whole Roasted Duck with a Kerala-style Spice Rub

Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves: 4 – 6 persons


1 Duck (mine weighed 2800 grams)
1 tablespoon Fennel Seeds
6 Cloves
5 1-inch pieces Cinnamon
8 Peppercorns
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
Salt to rub outside and inside the duck
3 sprigs of Cilantro


Grind together the fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns to a fine powder.
Trim off all excess fat from the duck and discard, then make small criss-cross incisions across all of the skin to help it drain off the fat as it roasts.
Rub the entire duck outside and inside with salt and the spice powder.
Then stuff the crushed garlic and cilantro inside the duck cavity.
You can tie together the duck legs, or leave them untied.
Refrigerate for about 6 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 180°C. Gently place the duck into a large and deep roasting dish, breast side up.
Place in centre of oven and roast breast side up at 180°C for 1 hour.
After 1 hour flip the duck, breast side down, and roast another hour.
For the last or 3rd hour, turn the heat up to 200°C, then gently flip the duck again to breast side up.
As the duck is roasting the entire 3 hours keep basting and brushing with the grease from the bottom of the roasting dish.
After the 3 hours the duck will be cooked through, the skin will be crispy and the meat nice and juicy.
Place the duck on a large cutting board or serving tray to allow to cool before carving and serving.

Christmas Duck2



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