Achari pheasant, spiced aubergine caviar and poppy seed aloo tikki

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This remarkable Indian spiced pheasant recipe from Vineet Bhatia has a number of stages to it and requires a reasonable amount of preparation plus overnight marinating, but the end result is fabulous. It is unlikely that guests will have had such an interesting game dish with spiced aubergine caviar before. The mustard oil and the chat masala can easily be found in an Indian supermarket or from online retailers.

First published in 2015




Achari pheasant breasts

First marinade

Second marinade

Tikki / pheasant confit


Spiced aubergine caviar

Red onion, tomato and cucumber relish

To plate


  • Deep fat fryer
  • Pestle and mortar
  • 4 wooden skewers


For the pheasant breasts, make 4 light slashes in each breast. Mix all the ingredients for the first marinade together in a bowl and rub them on to the pheasant breasts. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes
Crush them coarsely in a mortar and pestle then add to the Greek yogurt, along with the ginger paste, garlic paste, green chilli, mixed pickle, mustard oil and garam masala. Lastly, add the turmeric and salt to taste – the pickle contains turmeric and so you don’t want the sauce to be too yellow
Rub the second marinade on the pheasant breasts and leave in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours
To make the Tikki you need to start with the pheasant confit. Place all the ingredients in a deep pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the meat is falling away from the bone
For the second marinade, roast all the cardamom, coriander, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dried chilli, black onion seeds, fenugreek seeds in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Shake and stir them constantly until a shade darker
Remove the pheasant legs and leave them on a wire rack to drain and cool completely. Bone the legs and cut the meat into pea-sized cubes
Boil the potatoes until tender, cool then grate. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the garlic, ginger and green chilli and sauté for a minute
Add the diced pheasant legs and sauté for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Add the grated potatoes and some salt and mix well. Remove from the heat and leave to cool
Mix in the coriander leaves and check the seasoning. Shape the Tikki mixture into 4cm cakes, about 1.25cm thick. Coat them in the poppy seeds and then chill for 30 minutes to firm up
To make the spiced aubergine caviar, put the aubergines on a baking sheet and brush with a little oil. Place in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas mark 6 and roast for 20 minutes or until they are lightly charred and completely tender. Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. Chop the flesh finely to form a paste
Add the aubergine flesh, stir to combine thoroughly with the spice mixture and season with salt. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until the excess moisture has evaporated. Add the chopped coriander and stir
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. As they begin to crackle, add the chopped garlic, ginger and green chilli and cook until the garlic turns golden
Then add the onion, tomato, grated ginger, crushed garlic, turmeric, chilli powder and ground cumin and coriander. Stir the spices together and sauté over a medium heat for 4 minutes, until the raw aroma has gone
Combine all the ingredients for the red onion, tomato and cucumber relish in a bowl and mix well. Chill
Heat the vegetable oil to 180°C in a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan. Take the Tikkis out of the fridge and deep-fry for about 2 minutes, until the seeds turn crunchy. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil
  • 1000ml of vegetable oil
Pre-heat the oven 190°C/Gas mark 5. Remove the pheasant breasts from the marinade, thread it on to skewers and place them over a roasting tin so the meat is suspended above the tin
Roast in the oven for 9 minutes, until cooked through, basting occasionally with the excess marinade. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 2 minutes before serving
To serve, place the aubergine caviar in the centre of 4 plates and spoon the red onion, tomato and cucumber relish around it. Place the pheasant breasts on top of the aubergine and garnish with the pheasant tikki and some chives
First published in 2015

While Vineet Bhatia has borrowed from European traditions to plate up his food, the manner and matter of his dishes are unmistakably those of India, handled with immense sophistication and personal panache.

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