Autumn Flavours: Sanjay Kumar’s Cornish Teetari (Indian-spiced wood pigeon)
Writing about India always brings tears to my home-thoughts stuck heart.
Although there is something for everyone in the country that never sleeps; autumn is a rather special time of the year. As leaves begin to fall and the wind starts to howl over the mountains, the struggle to balance between survival and frugal means becomes more and more defined.
Over the ages, ingenious cooks across the country have worked behind soot laden pots and cauldrons, devising dishes and potions to warm up the cockles, of every Indian from slum to penthouse. Garam masala (hot spice), is a particular key ingredient that adds a warm comfort to the blood stream during adversely cold weather.
My recipe here draws pages from my early cheffing years in New Delhi, where friends and fellow waiting staff hailing from Punjab would often prepare a marrow-warming game bird preparation to beat the cold, often accompanied by unrationed pours of country-made sugarcane rum.
The dish of honour was lovingly called “Teetari”, and loosely referred to a tandoori broiled game bird (teetar)
Preparation time 20 min
Marinading time: 3-4 hours
Cooking time 10 min
2 Bird’s eye chillies
2 Wood Pigeons, jointed
10 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
40ml mustard oil
90g Greek Yoghurt
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
4 tablespoons malt vinegar
1½ teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon Cornish sea salt
5 gm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
How to make Teetari:
Pat dry the wood pigeon with kitchen paper (Check for pellets in the breast and legs). Make incisions in the breasts and legs with a sharp knife.
Mix together the vinegar, chilli powder and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the pigeon pieces and mix well, then cover and leave to marinate for about 15–20 minutes at room temperature.
Place the ginger, garlic, mustard oil and birds eye chillies in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to shallow dish, add the yoghurt, caraway seeds and salt to taste and mix well. Add pigeon pieces and turn to coat in the mixture, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 3–4 hours.
Thread the wood pigeon pieces onto metal skewers and cook over a barbecue for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes before sprinkling with garam masala and serve hot, with red onion and cucumber salad.
Sanjay Says: A subtle difference in flavor can be achieved by smoking the marinated pigeon, on Darjeeling tea leaves. Give it a go, I promise it will lead your senses to a different world of pleasure.
Foodies South West says: Want to buy woodpigeon? Go talk to your local butcher if you are still lucky enough to have one.
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