Indian royal cooks devised this dish of marinated baby chickens stuffed with spiced vegetables and dried fruits. Complete the meal with Pilau or Cardamom Rice (on this website) and a salad.
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2 oven-ready poussins, about 400 g (14 oz) each
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the marinade
1½ tablespoons korma curry powder
2 teaspoons garlic purée, or crushed garlic
2 teaspoons ginger purée, or grated ginger
75 g (2¾ oz) natural set yoghurt
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons white poppy seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
For the stuffing
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ginger purée, or grated ginger
50 g (1¾ oz) onions, finely chopped
25 g (1 oz) flaked rice, or fresh breadcrumbs
50 g (1¾ oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
25 g (1 oz) seedless raisins
50 g (1¾ oz) sweetcorn kernels, drained if canned or defrosted if frozen
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon fromage frais
50 g (1¾ oz) button mushrooms, finely chopped
To garnish: a few sprigs of fresh coriander
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Method Prep:1hr › Cook:55min › Ready in:1hr55min
Take all the skin off the poussins, using a cloth to pull back the skin, which is slippery to hold.
To make the marinade, stir the curry powder, garlic, ginger and yoghurt together in a large bowl and season with salt to taste. Finely grind the poppy and sesame seeds in a spice mill, or with a pestle and mortar, then stir them into the yoghurt marinade.
Add the poussins to the bowl, rubbing the marinade all over them, inside and out. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Next day, bring the birds to room temperature. Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5).
To make the stuffing, melt half the butter over a medium-low heat and sauté the chilli, ginger and onions for 3-4 minutes until the onions are soft.
Rinse the flaked rice, if using, with cold water to moisten it. Add the rice or breadcrumbs to the onion mixture with the apricots, raisins and sweetcorn. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then stir in the coriander, fromage frais, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
Stuff the poussins, packing the filling in tightly. Tie the birds’ legs together with string.
In a flameproof casserole large enough to hold the poussins in one layer, melt the rest of the butter over a medium-high heat and fry the birds all over until browned. Cover with the lid or foil, making sure that the foil does not touch the birds, transfer to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
Uncover the poussins and pour 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of warm water into the casserole, but not over the birds. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, basting frequently.
Put the poussins on a board and cut them in half lengthways with poultry shears or a carving knife. Put half a bird on each plate and strain the cooking juices over them (the liquid will be absorbed if the birds are really hot). Garnish with sprigs of coriander and serve.