So here’s where it all began. I was walking through the supermarket and spotted some cauliflower and thought I’d whip up a tasty treat for myself while the other half was mingling with the celebs in LA for the Gday USA launch. Nice for some. After grabbing the cauliflower I came across a tray of quail breasts and it was at that moment my minds cogs began turning and a few flavour ideas started bouncing around. I went over the road to the Fiji Market and picked up the okra. All the other spices and ingredients were already in the pantry at home. Let the cooking begin.
To balance out the Middle Eastern flavourings I’ve marinated the quail in a similar set-up to the zhoug. Just be sure to allow it to sit and marinate in the fridge overnight. It may appear to have a whole lot going on but if you like a bit of spice, including a little chilli, this will be right up your alley. From the crispy burnished skin and pink flesh of the pan-fried quail, to the soft and spicy cauliflower and crunch of zesty okra. It’s a real flavour explosion.
Prep the cauliflower first and set it aside on the baking tray, ready to throw in the heated oven at the right point. Make the zhoug the day before if you wish; just take it out of the fridge to rest as the oil firms up when it chills. It needs to be room temp. Make the okra while the cauliflower is baking in the oven and in the last ten minutes pan-fry the quail and let it rest for a few more.
Put the quail breasts into a medium plastic bag, set aside.
Put the remaining ingredients into a food processor and zap them until puréed. Pour the marinade into the bag containing the quail. Mix it all around to cover the breasts, tie a knot at the top and put the bag into a bowl and then into the fridge to marinate overnight.
Heat a non-stick pan, or char-grill, over medium high heat. Cook the quail skin-side down for a few minutes then turn and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Just don’t overcook the poor dears. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest for a few minutes more.
To serve: layer the cauliflower, then okra on the plate. Drizzle a little zhoug over it then top with three quail breasts. Scatter fresh curry leaves here and there, a little of the spice mix from the okra and voila, time to dig in. I reckon an ice-cold beer would be the perfect beverage with this one.