Some years ago, I was involved in a River Cottage quest to get the country eating more wild rabbit. Along the way, I got the chance to cook in the kitchen of a local curry house with a wonderful, if slightly intimidating, lady called Helen. She set me straight on a few things to do with curry cooking. This aromatic, spicy curry is basically her recipe with a few twists of my own (thank you, Helen). It also works well with pheasant, grouse, pigeon, goose, hare, squirrel and wild boar.
2 rabbits, jointed into 8 pieces each, scored, bones in
4 cardamom pods
2 large onions (peeled and chopped)
2 tinned peeled plum tomatoes (or skinned fresh tomatoes)
1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
2 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
Sea salt and freshly ground
Red pepper and fresh root
ginger julienne (thin strips), or coriander leaves
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom pods and bay leaf and fry for a minute. Add the onions and the garlic and ginger paste, with a good pinch of salt, and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add all the other ground spices, except the garam masala, and cook for a few minutes until the oil separates from the spices and they release their aroma.
2. Squash the tomatoes to a pulp in your hands, or crush with a fork, and add to the pan, along with the black onion seeds. Add the rabbit and enough water just to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down low and put a lid on the pan. Cook gently for about 45 minutes or until the rabbit is tender, stirring often.
3. Stir in the garam masala and check the seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve scattered with red pepper and ginger julienne or coriander leaves.
4. PS: To make a ginger and garlic paste, blitz 50g each of peeled garlic and fresh root ginger and 85ml water in a food processor. You’ll have more than you need for this recipe; refrigerate the rest in a jar and use within a week.