food for thought

by michelle

quail and chick pea stew + bulgur and zucchini pilaf

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This fragrant dish of quail with chick peas, saffron and herbs is from Saraban – A chef’s journey through Persia by Grey and Lucy Malouf.


Heat some olive oil over low heat in a large heavy-based pot with a lid. Gently fry 2 finely sliced red onions and 4 finely sliced cloves of garlic until soft and translucent. Meanwhile soak some saffron in 2 tablespoons of boiling water and set aside. Add ½ a teaspoon of lightly crushed cardamom seeds and ½ a teaspoon of dry oregano to the onions. Cook a little longer then remove to a plate. Add a little more oil to the pot and turn the heat up. Season 6 quails with salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown them on each side. Now reduce the heat again and return the onions to the pot along with a drained can of chick peas, 2 large or 4 small carrots cut into pieces, ⅓ of a cup of fresh oregano leaves, 8 sprigs of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, 300ml (10 fl oz) of good chicken stock and the saffron water. Bring to boil then cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer slowly for 1 – 1½ hours until the quail are tender. Towards the end of the cooking time add 2 tablespoons of currants and simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

I served the quail with a bulgur (burghul) and zucchini pilaf. Heat some butter and oil in a saucepan and quickly fry the sliced zucchini until barely tender, seasoning to taste. Remove to a bowl. Add the bulgur to the same saucepan. When it’s hot and a little toasted add double the quantity of boiling water and salt to taste. Cover and cook for 15-25 minutes (un-hulled bulgur will take longer). Chop some fresh dill and when the bulgur is ready, stir through the zucchini, some chopped fresh dill and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.


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