Stuffed quails

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

The Mughal emperors of Rajasthan were passionate about hunting, so their chefs created a range of game dishes. This one, Batair Mussallam, follows the dictums of traditional Mughal cooking: the birds are stuffed with grated Indian cheese, dried apricots, chillies and spices, then gently braised in an aromatic sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 quails
  • naan or Griddle-cooked Flaky Bread, to serve

For the stuffing

  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup grated paneer (Indian cheese)
  • 15 g/½ oz seedless raisins
  • 2 dried, ready-to-eat apricots, finely chopped
  • 10 ml/1 tsp ginger purée
  • 1–2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
  • 1.25 ml/¼tsp salt
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp double (heavy) cream

For the sauce

  • 15 ml/1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2–3 dried red chillies, chopped
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp white poppy seeds
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 mace blade
  • 1.25 ml/¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 10 ml/2 tsp garlic purée
  • 115 g/4 oz/½ cup natural (plain) yogurt
  • 10 ml/2 tsp gram flour (besan)

Method

  1. Clean the quails and wipe them inside and out. Score the skin, making a few incisions in the flesh at the same time.

  2. Thoroughly combine all the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl, then divide into four equal portions.

  3. Fill the stomach cavity of each quail with the stuffing mixture, pushing it up as far as possible. Truss the birds with toothpicks (cocktail sticks), so that the legs are pinned to the sides of the body.

  4. To make the sauce, process the coriander, dried red chillies, poppy and sesame seeds, and the mace in a coffee grinder until finely ground. Place in a bowl and mix in the turmeric, then set aside.

  5. In a large heavy pan, heat the oil over a low heat and add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, until the cardamom pods have puffed up.

  6. Add the onion, ginger and garlic to the pan and fry for about 5–6 minutes, until the onion is soft, stirring frequently. Add the ground ingredients and cook for 1 minute.

  7. Whisk the yogurt and gram flour together in a small bowl and then add the mixture to the pan. Cook for 2–3 minutes. Pour in 120ml/4fl oz/½ cup warm water and stir well to combine.

  8. Add the stuffed quails and turn them around in the pan until they are completely coated with the spices. Put the birds close together in the pan, breast side down. Turn the heat to very low.

  9. Soak a piece of baking parchment and squeeze out the excess water. Place the paper in the pan, making sure it is not touching the birds. Cover the pan tightly and cook for 20 minutes.

  10. Remove the lid, turn the birds on their backs and re-cover as before with the baking parchment. Cook for 20 minutes. Prick the thighs with a fork to see if the juices are running clear; if not, cook for a few minutes longer. Serve with naan or Griddle-cooked Flaky Bread.

Per portion Energy 378kcal/1581kJ; Protein 25g; Carbohydrate 18.8g, of which sugars 9.1g; Fat 23.6g, of which saturates 6.4g; Cholesterol 97mg; Calcium 194mg; Fibre 1.9g; Sodium 144mg.