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Fragrant pumpkin rice with quail

Quail and pumpkin pair well in this Middle Eastern-style dish – they both have a little sweetness, and the gaminess of the quail works well with the earthiness of Kent pumpkin.

By Lisa Featherby
  • Serves 6
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 25 mins cooking plus resting
Fragrant pumpkin rice with quail
Fragrant pumpkin rice with quail

Quail and pumpkin pair well in this Middle Eastern-style dish - they both have a little sweetness, and the gaminess of the quail works well with the earthiness of Kent pumpkin.

Ingredients

  • 30 gm mixed slivered almonds and pistachios
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 300 gm peeled Kent (Jap) pumpkin, cut into 1.5cm dice
  • 3 golden shallots, diced
  • ½ leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 300 gm (1½ cups) long-grain rice
  • 2 tbsp barberries (see note)
  • 10 gm ginger, finely grated
  • 6 fresh curry leaves
  • 750 ml (3 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 320 gm quail breast fillets (about 14; see note)
  • To serve: coriander and yoghurt (optional)

Method

Main
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 200C. Roast almonds and pistachios on a baking tray, shaking occasionally, until golden (3-4 minutes). Set aside.
  • 2
    Heat ghee in a casserole or deep frying pan over high heat, add pumpkin, shallot, leek, garlic and spices, and sauté until softened (4-6 minutes). Stir in rice, barberries, ginger and curry leaves, add stock to cover by 2cm (add a little water if necessary), stir once and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly with foil, then transfer to oven and bake until rice has absorbed liquid (12-14 minutes). Cover with a tea towel and set aside to steam for 5 minutes, then arrange on a serving platter.
  • 3
    Reduce oven to 100C. Heat half the butter in a large frying pan over high heat, add half the quail skin-side down and fry until golden brown (1½ minutes), then turn and cook to your liking (30 seconds for medium rare). Keep warm in oven and repeat with remaining butter and quail. Arrange on rice, scatter with nuts and coriander, and serve with yoghurt.

Notes

Note Barberries, tart dried red berries, are available from select delicatessens and Middle Eastern grocers, and online at pariyafood.com. We used Game Farm quail breast fillets, which are available in 320gm packets of 14 fillets from select supermarkets, butchers and independent grocers. If they're unavailable, substitute 6 whole quail and increase the cooking time by a few minutes to cook the legs.
Drink Suggestion: Full-bodied, creamy white, such as viognier. Drink suggestion by Max Allen