Tandoori style quails
Good Indian tandoori food is a delight, the quick sealing and cooking of spiced and marinated meat in the tandoor oven is possibly the best way to cook lean meats like chicken, rabbit and, in this case, quails. But as most of us do not have a tandoor oven (they can reach over 450ºc) at home, we have to make do with the appliances of our domestic kitchen – the higher the maximum temperature the better.
An excellent alternative is an indirect BBQ like a Weber that can reach around 350ºC or, even better, the Big Green Egg. But at home, all domestic ovens will get to 200ºC and some 250ºC. At these lower temperatures, the tiny quail is perfect.
Skin the birds whole and make a tandoori marinade. The supermarket brands are quite acceptable but for a homemade version mix some crushed garlic and crushed ginger with ground Indian spices or good curry powder and some chilli. Combine with natural yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some ground turmeric, a tiny dash of red food colouring, some salt and a drop of vegetable oil.
Make some cuts in the thicker parts of the flesh and smother with the marinade. Leave covered in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. A couple of hours before cooking remove from the fridge to bring the birds to room temperature, shake off excess marinade and roast up on a rack. At 250ºC 15 minutes is sufficient, or 20 minutes at 200ºC. Garnish with fresh coriander to serve.
By Patrick Stuart firstname.lastname@example.org