Deep-frying meat such as quail or chicken is popular throughout Asia. Marinating the meat for two days beforehand develops sweet-and-sour overtones that are out of this world. I sometimes replace the quails with poussins. By the way, do not forget the crispy-fried sediments from the marinade: I have sprinkled them over the meat as a garnish.
- 8 quails, spatchcocked
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 4 large iceberg lettuce leaves, used as cups
- Coriander, chopped, to garnish
For the marinade
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
- 1tsp ground turmeric
- 2tbs tamarind paste
- 1tbs light brown sugar
- 1tsp garam masala
For the chutney
- 125g desiccated (dry unsweetened) coconut
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 2.5cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2tbs chopped coriander
For the spicy potatoes
- 4tbs peanut oil
- 1kg small waxy new potatoes (such as Charlotte or Juliette), cooked and halved
- 250g French beans, cooked and halved
- 1tbs garam masala
- 1tbs chopped coriander
- 1tbs chopped mint
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 250g shallots, thinly sliced
- Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
- Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Start two days in advance by making the marinade. In a shallow dish, mix together the garlic, coriander, chilli, lemongrass, turmeric, tamarind paste, sugar and garam masala. Add the spatchcocked quails and coat with the marinade. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to marinate for 48 hours.
On the day the dish is needed, prepare the spicy potatoes. Put 1tbsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and French beans. Fry for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Add the garam masala and cook for one minute. Add the coriander and mint and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the lemon juice and remaining oil. Leave to cool, then add the shallots and pomegranate seeds. Set aside.
For the chutney, in a bowl, mix together the coconut, chillies, ginger and coriander. Set aside.
Place the quails and their marinade in a large, shallow frying pan. Just cover the quails with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five to six minutes, or until the quails are cooked. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Continue to cook the sediments in the pan until all the water has evaporated. Remove the sediments and set aside.
Heat the oil to 170°C in a deep-fat fryer. Carefully immerse the quails in the hot oil and fry for three to four minutes, or until cooked and crisp. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove with a slotted spoon on to kitchen paper to drain.
Add the sediments to the hot oil in the fryer and cook for 30 seconds to one minute until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon on to kitchen paper to drain.
Divide the spicy potatoes between the iceberg lettuce cups. Add some coconut chutney and garnish with chopped coriander. Place the crispy-fried quails alongside and scatter with the crispy-fried sediments. Serve immediately.