Found some quails at Tesco recently, and was really curious about them. I remembered that Chef Ammar had a quail recipe in his book, so I decided to grab a bag of ten birds. Making this dish marked a few firsts for me; first time preparing quails, and first time frying breaded stuff in the air fryer. One thing to note is that you need to coat the breaded birds with cooking spray evenly, and to spray generously, otherwise the breading would just come out dry and floury. The results were quite satisfying as the quails turned out lovely and crispy.
I had quite a few issues with the recipe the way it was written in the book (again, poorly written and virtually nonexistent editing), so I had to make up some stuff to fill in the gaps. Saffron boiled eggs didn’t even have saffron; just food coloring. In any case, I skipped the egg coloring step and fried almonds this time around, but overall it was an interesting dish to experience.
- 10 quails
- 1 (80-gram) packet black pepper fried chicken seasoning
- 3 cups long-grain Basmathi rice
- 1/3 cup corn oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 cardamom pods (buah pelaga)
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 10 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Hawa’ij spice mix
- 1 inch fresh ginger, crushed
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 1 large tomato, quartered
- 2 green chilies, halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring, diluted in 1/3 cup water (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped (for garnishing)
- 1/4 cup whole almonds, sauteed (for garnishing)
Wash the rice until the water runs clear, and soak for 30 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In large deep pot, or a rice cooker pot (if using) over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onions are soft, 3 minutes. Add the whole cardamom pods, black peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, Hawa’ij spice mix, and fresh ginger. Add the rice, and stir to combine. Add enough water to come up about 1 inch above the rice. Add the chicken stock cubes, tomato and green chilies. Add 1 teaspoon salt, and adjust to taste. Transfer the pot the the rice cooker if using to finish the cooking process. Otherwise, boil the rice over high heat until the liquid has evaporated, then reduce heat and cook for another 15 minutes, until the rice is done. Give the rice a few stirs when the liquid has evaporated, and a few more after it is done.
While the rice is cooking, preheat the air fryer at 180 degrees C, 3 minutes. Coat the quails in the black pepper fried chicken seasoning according to package instructions. Spray the coated quails with cooking spray, making sure to coat every surface evenly. Fry for 10 minutes, take out the basket and turn the birds around, spraying with more cooking spray on any dry bits, and fry for another 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Be careful not to overcook the quails.
Place the eggs in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. When the water starts boiling, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 12 minutes. Drain the eggs in a colander and run under cool tap water to stop the cooking process. Peel the eggs and place the eggs in the diluted yellow food coloring for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve the rice on a large platter, and arrange the quails on top. Place the eggs in the center, and garnish with the chopped cilantro and fried almonds.