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Indian Spiced Grilled Quail

These spatchcocked quail are rubbed with an intense paste of freshly ground spices then left overnight to let the flavours penetrate. Grilled until blistered and crisp, they are a sticky, finger-licking treat; you could also barbecue them. Partridges and poussins can be cooked in the same way, increasing the cooking time accordingly.


Turn one quail breast side down and, using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut down each side of the backbone and lift the bone away. Turn the quail breast side up and push down on the breast with your hand to open out and flatten the bird. This is ‘spatchcocking’. Repeat with the other quail. The backbones can be frozen and added to your next chicken stock.

Toast the fenugreek, cloves, cinnamon, chilli, peppercorns and cardamom in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until fragrant. Blitz the spices in a spice mill or crush them with a pestle and mortar until quite finely ground.

Combine the ground spices with the garlic, turmeric, lemon zest, oil and a good pinch of salt.

Place the spatchcocked birds in a large dish and rub the spice paste all over them. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 12 hours, or overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to high.

Place the quail on a grill tray, breast side up, and grill for 8–10 minutes. Turn on to the other side and grill for a further 5–6 minutes; the juices should run clear.

Remove the quail to a warmed platter, turning them breast side up again; brush over any pan juices. Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

The quail are delicious served with flatbreads, and plain yoghurt.

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4 quail

2 tsp fenugreek seeds

4 cloves

1⁄4 cinnamon stick

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp black peppercorns

seeds from 6 cardamom pods

6 garlic cloves, grated

1 tsp ground turmeric

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp rapeseed or virgin coconut oil

sea salt and black pepper