Quail biryani

Ravinder Bhogul cooks marinated spatchcock quail in an aromatic sauce with rice and lentils topped with pomegranate raita and crispy shallots
Quail biryani
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus overnight marinade
  • Effort: easy


  • 5 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 quail, spatchcocked and cut into half
  • ghee, to fry
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cm ginger, peeled and sliced into fine matchsticks
  • 1/2 tin chopped tomato
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 300 g basmati rice, rinsed
  • 150 g green lentils

For the marinade/spice mix

  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds from
  • 1 curl cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • small blade mace
  • 2 tbsp dried rose petals
  • generous pinch saffron
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • good grating nutmeg

For the pomegranate raita

  • 5 tbsp freshly chopped mint and coriander
  • 400 g natural yogurt
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin, toasted and cracked

For the crispy shallots

  • oil, to deep fry
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced with a mandolin

To serve

  • 6 quail's eggs, soft boiled and halved
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds
  • freshly chopped coriander
  • freshly chopped mint


1. For the marinade/spice mix: dry roast all the whole spices and rose petals till aromatic and then blitz to a fine powder in a spice grinder Add the saffron and once blitzed, add the powdered spices and a grating of nutmeg.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, half the spice mix, lemon zest and juice and crushed garlic. Add the quails and leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour or overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Melt ghee in a pan and fry the onions with the cinnamon, cumin and peppercorns till softened and golden.

4. Add the remaining spice mix and ginger and fry till fragrant before adding the quail. Seal the meat well.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and then cover leave to simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes or until the quail is tender.

6. Finally add rice, salt to taste, stir, and cover with a tight fitting lid, and place in the oven for 25 minutes to bake.

7. In the meantime, cook the lentils in boiling water till tender this should take 15 minutes. Drain and stir into the rice and bake for a further 5 minutes.

8. For the pomegranate raita: mix the coriander, mint, yogurt, salt and pepper, pomegranate seeds, seasoning and cumin seeds together.

9. For the deep fried shallots: heat oil for deep frying and fry the shallots till crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

10. Serve the biryani topped with crispy shallots, pomegranate seeds, quails eggs and pomegranate raita.

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