Thomasina Miers recipe for roast Rajasthani spiced game bird

Eating game, particularly that managed by the British Game Alliance, is a brilliant way to protect ecosystems and natural habitats, and support good animal welfare. Game can make the most delicious feasts, adding wonderful flavour and goodness to curries, pilaus, roasts and stir-fries. I also love that it is so healthy, being higher in protein and micronutrients than anything reared indoors.

I particularly love the mild, sweet flavour of partridge (when in season), but this dish also works wonderfully with quail or jointed chicken.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

1kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
7 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 whole Kashmiri chilli
, or ½ tsp chilli flakes
Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
1 clove
2 bay leaves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 partridges
, or 4-8 quail, depending on appetite, or 8 chicken quarters, thighs and/or drumsticks
Lemon wedges, to serve

For the raita
300g Greek yoghurt
1 small garlic clove
, peeled
½ cucumber
1 small handful
mint leaves, chopped

Ask your butcher to spatchcock the birds, or do it yourself by cutting out the backbone, then putting the birds breast side up on a board and pushing down to flatten them out.

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Pop the potatoes in a large baking tray, pour over five tablespoons of the olive oil, season generously and toss with your hands to coat. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, blitz the whole spices and bay leaves to a powder in a small spice grinder (or grind them in a mortar). Transfer to a large bowl, stir in the cinnamon and remaining two tablespoons of oil, then add the birds, season and rub the spice paste all over the birds, so they’re well coated in the aromatics – they will be smelling delicious by now.

Once the potatoes have done their 30 minutes, lay the birds skin side up on top, then roast for 15 minutes, or until the birds are just cooked through – they are much better served slightly pink and tender; overcooking dries out game because of its low fat content. Transfer the birds to a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm spot for five to 10 minutes. In the meantime, the potatoes will get even more of an opportunity to crisp up in the oven.

To make the raita, spoon the yoghurt into a bowl, grate in the garlic and cucumber, stir in the mint and season to taste. Serve the roast birds with the hot potatoes, the raita, lemon wedges and perhaps a crisp, green salad on the side.

For a veggie version, toss the potatoes in half the spices and roast as above. Sweat a large sliced onion with the rest of the spices, stir in some peas, toss into the potatoes and serve in flatbreads with the raita.

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