Simple pleasures

This pheasant land

I stumbled across a pheasant the other day. I say stumbled, more bought one. Sadly I wasn’t a gun with my wellies and cap out on the moors looking wistfully and enigmatically at the mist shrouded land but rather more prosaically in the supermarket.

Not one for the traditionally served bread sauce and game chips I decided to marinate it overnight in a gentle spiced yoghurt and serve it with a rich beluga lentil dhal, based rather loosely on black dhal (makhani) which traditionally uses urad lentils. 

If you’re not a fan of pheasant, or can’t get one or two, this recipe works rather well with poussin or chicken. The key to this is getting the grill as hot as you can and charring the bird to within an inch of its life (death?) 

Start by removing the backbone, flattening the bird and stabbing it all over to allow the marinade to soak in. I used a bay leaf, 200ml natural yoghurt, dried mangosteen, three green chillies, some garlic, a thumb of ginger, turmeric, ground cumin and ground coriander as well as a stick of cassia bark. 

Remove from the marinade the next day and spoon the liquid all over the bird before grilling it on both sides for about twenty minutes. 

For the dhal

1 very large onion

1 thumb of ginger

1 clove of garlic

3 green finger chillies

A mugful of beluga lentils, soaked and cooked until soft (about an hour)

2tsp ground cumin

2tsp ground coriander

1tsp ground turmeric

1tsp chilli powder

A large handful of spinach

2tbsp ghee

2tbsp rapeseed oil

300ml double cream

Black salt powder (or sea salt if not)

Black pepper

Garam masala and coriander to serve


Blend the onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies then gently cook them for about ten minutes in the ghee and oil.

Add the spices and season well. Cook for a minute or two more. 

Add the drained and cooked lentils and stir well. Stir in the cream and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach, Garam masala and coriander. Serve with the grilled pheasant.

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