Quail and Shiitake Mussaman Curry

Try Ross Burden's luxurious version of a Thai curry, made from quails and shiitake mushrooms
By Ross Burden
Quail and Shiitake Mussaman Curry
  • Rating:
  • Serves: makes 1 quail per person
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 whole quail
  • 150 g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
  • 55 g Thai pea aubergine
  • 400 ml tinned coconut milk
  • 90 ml fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp caster or palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamarind water
  • handful of coriander leaves

For the spice paste:

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, husks discarded
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 120 g Thai shallots, chopped
  • 70 g garlic, chopped
  • 120 g lemongrass, tender part only, finely chopped
  • 6 large red chillies, seedless
  • 1 tbsp peeled galangal, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander, roots and stems
  • grated zest of 3 limes
  • 2 tbsp shrimp paste


1. In a small heavy-based frying pan, place the cumin, cardamom seeds, coriander, cinnamon and cloves.

2. Dry-fry over a low heat, stirring often, until fragrant.

3. Cool the spices and grind finely in a pestle and mortar or electric grinder.

4. Using either a pestle and mortar or a food processor, grind together the ground spices, shallots, lemon grass, chillies, galangal, coriander roots and stems, lime zest and shrimp paste. Add just enough water to form a spice paste.

5. Heat the oil in a casserole dish. Add the quails and brown on all sides.

6. Add a third of the spice paste (storing the remainder in an airtight container and refrigerating it until required) and fry until fragrant, stirring often and coating the quails well.

7. Add the shiitake mushrooms, pea aubergines, coconut milk and a splash of water.

8. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the quails are tender and cooked through.

9. Stir in the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and tamarind water.

10. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

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