This is a modern interpretation of a typical, everyday Indian dish of dal-roti and kukkad – i.e. lentils, bread and country chicken. Even though guinea fowl became more and more available all year round, I still think the winter season is great for cooking with poultry and game.
- 4 guinea fowl breasts, boned, skinned and cut into 3-4 pieces each
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or corn oil
- 4 wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
For the marinade
- 1 tablespoon Ginger–Garlic Paste
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander stalks
For the coarsely ground spice crust
- 2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns
- 6 cloves, coarsely ground
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely ground
For the yellow lentil sauce
- 120g yellow moong lentils (split yellow mung beans)
- 750ml water
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 dried red chilli
- a pinch of asafoetida
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 1cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
- juice of ½ lemon
For the marinade, mix together the ginger–garlic paste, salt, chilli flakes, chilli powder, allspice and lemon juice, then rub them over the guinea fowl breast pieces and set aside. In the meantime, mix half the coarsely ground spices with the yoghurt and coriander stalks. Apply this mixture to the breast pieces to complete the marinade, thread the guinea fowl onto the wooden skewers and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
To make the lentil sauce, rinse the lentils under cold running water, then place in a pan with the water, turmeric and salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the lentils have thoroughly disintegrated. Blend the mixture to a purée with a hand-held blender.
Heat the ghee in a heavy-based pan, add the whole dried chilli, asafoetida, and cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the garlic, wait for it to turn golden brown, then add the onion. Sauté over a moderate heat until golden. Add the tomato and cook for 3 minutes, then pour in the puréed lentils. Stir in the ginger and coriander and bring to the boil. Adjust the seasoning and finish with the lemon juice.
To cook the guinea fowl, heat the oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan (big enough to accommodate the skewers) and sear the guinea fowl skewers for 2 minutes on each side. Sprinkle the rest of the coarsely ground spices over the guinea fowl, then transfer the pan to an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and cook for 6-8 minutes. Serve on the lentil sauce, accompanied by bread or rice.
Tip: The guinea fowl could be replaced with chicken breasts or thighs and the skewers will cook every bit as well under a grill or on a barbecue.