Persian Quail Recipe by Arun Kapil with wine pairing

Persian Quail by Arun Kapil

This is one of my favourite quick dishes – brilliant for entertaining or festive occasions. I love quail, and it goes so well with the Persian-style ‘fesenjan’ (pomegranate and walnut) sauce.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a starter

For the quail
1 small pinch saffron threads
1 small handful pistachio nuts,roughly chopped
1 small handful dried cherries
1 small handful sultanas
1 tbsp anardana, finely ground
2 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
4 gratings nutmeg
1 tbsp dried rose petals, chopped
4 oven-ready quail
30g (1oz) unsalted butter
A little light olive oil
½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm (¾in) dice
1 tbsp runny honey

For the sauce
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 small piece blade mace
Seeds of 2 green cardamom pods
1 tsp finely ground cinnamon
200g (7oz) walnuts
½ tsp powdered turmeric
A splash light olive oil
2 banana shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
100ml (3½fl oz) pomegranate juice
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
300ml (10fl oz) chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6). Soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons warm water in a large bowl, then stir in the nuts, cherries sultanas, anardana, liqueur, nutmeg and rose petals to make the stuffing. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Fill the cavities of the birds with the
stuffing, then truss the legs with kitchen string. Heat the butter and oil in
a large frying pan over a medium heat until foaming, then add the birds
and brown lightly on all sides, turning and basting as they cook. You may
need to do this one bird at a time. Transfer the birds to a snug-fitting,
deep roasting tin. Put the frying pan to one side.

2. Cover the roasting tin tightly with foil, then roast the quail for
10–15 minutes – no more – just until the juices run clear when a thigh is
pricked with a skewer. Remove from the oven, set aside and keep warm.

3. To make the sauce, finely grind the peppercorns, mace and cardamom
using a mortar and pestle, then add the cinnamon; set aside. Put the
walnuts in a heavy-based frying pan and lightly toast for 2–3 minutes. Tip
into a clean tea towel, gather up the corners and rub vigorously to remove
the skins. Put the nuts and turmeric into a food processor or blender and
pulse to a rough texture. (Or grind using a mortar and pestle.) Set aside.

4. Put the oil in a wide saucepan over a medium heat. Add the shallots
and fry gently until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, the spice blend,
walnuts and the salt. Stir well, then add the pomegranate juice, molasses
and stock, stir again and increase the heat. Once the sauce has begun to
bubble, turn down to a simmer and reduce to the thickness of double
cream. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. Stir and adjust the
seasoning if necessary, then set aside and keep warm.

5. Preheat the grill. Heat a little more oil in the frying pan over a medium
heat. Add the butternut squash and fry for 8 minutes or until there’s
just a little give in the flesh. Add the honey, stir to coat, then put briefly
under the grill to colour. To serve, remove the string from the quail, add a
spoonful of the squash and coat the meat generously with the sauce.


Our recommended Wine Pairing for this Recipe
Man O’War Valhalla €29.49

Chardonnay 2011

On the nose this wine delivers, you almost get lost with all the wonderful aromas of pineapple, mango& banana, add the nutty buttery tones with a smoky edge and you have one stunning nose.

All the amazing aromas from the nose flow onto the palate with such grace with the addition of peach blossom & ripe citrus gives this wine even more layers. The rich & silky body carry the fruit, fine minerality & delicate toasted notes, giving a truly refined wine but without the burgundy price tag.

A wine that will match this delicious dish as the body has the weight to match the quail and the fruit to pair with the fruity sauce while the acidity will keep that palate refreshed.

Available from O’Brien’s Wines Nationwide or Online.


Arun Kapil Arun Kapil is a Spice Specialist and chef. Honing his skills at Ballymaloe, and kitchens  in  London, Arun’s cooking as with his presenting has an easy uncomplicated style.  Settling in Ireland’s food capital, Co Cork in 2004, Arun set-up his highly regarded  and award winning spice company Green Saffron in 2007. Green Saffron sources spices direct from farms in India, ‘grading’ them in their unit at Moradabad just  outside Delhi, before shipping them over to Cork. Arun has appeared on RTE’s ‘Today  with Maura  and Daithi’, TV3’s ‘Late Lunch Live , alongside Richard Corrigan on Channel 4’s Cookery School, and has featured in programmes with Rachel Allen,  Donal  Skehan and Market Kitchen, UKTV and ‘Pies and Puds’ with Paul  Hollywood on BBC1. Arun contributes regularly to  various Irish national radio  channels and has  just published his first cookbook, ‘Fresh Spice’ through Pavilion, UK  with co-edition in the US through Sterling Gourmet. He has also just received the  ‘green light’ his spice TV series due to air in 2016 through RTE.

Green Saffron Arun Kapil

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