I was in Waitrose recently and came across boned pheasant thighs – perfect for a gamey curry, as the breasts would be too dry and the drumsticks pretty inedible due to their needle-like bones.
20 or so pheasant thighs
4 onions, peeled and sliced
2 medium green chillies, deseeded and sliced
tbsp tomato purée
1 litre chicken stock; a good cube will do
1tbsp chopped coriander leaves
For the marinade
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
50g root ginger, scraped and finely grated
A good pinch of saffron
200g thick yoghurt
For the spice mix
1tsp black peppercorns
The seeds from 12 cardamom pods
A small piece of cinnamon or cassia stick
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp ground turmeric
2tsp melon seeds
1tbsp peeled pistachio nuts
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Mix all of the ingredients together for the marinade then mix with the pheasant thighs, cover and marinade for an hour.
Meanwhile put all of the ingredients for the spice mix in a cast-iron frying pan and heat them over a medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, turning them regularly with a spoon until they are lightly browned. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind the spices.
Melt the ghee in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the onions and chillies on a low heat with a lid on for 5-6 minutes, stirring every so often until soft. Add the spices, tomato purée and chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pheasant and the marinade, cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, topping up with a little water if necessary. Take a ladle of the sauce and blend in a liquidiser until smooth and return to the pan. The pheasant should be tender now and the sauce quite thick; if not continue simmering. Stir in the coriander and transfer to a serving dish.
To serve, mix the melon seeds, pistachios and shallots together and scatter on top. Serve with basmati rice.