Before the hunting of animals was banned in India, Rajasthan was one of the country's major hunting grounds - which is perhaps why the flavours of Rajasthani spice mix pair so well with game meat. Vivek Singh combines Rajasthani spice mix with a pickling spice sauce in this delicious venison recipe, which won an award for best British curry in 2006. This recipe uses deer steaks cut from the saddle, but if you are scaling up the recipe to cater for a larger party simply cook an entire boned and rolled saddle and serve it sliced.
SADDLE OF DEER 4 venison steaks, each weighing 150g, cut from 1kg of saddle
RAJASTHANI SPICE PASTE 2 tbsp of mustard oil 2 tbsp of ghee 1 large onion, sliced 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped 20 cloves 10 green cardamom pods 1 tbsp of coriander seeds 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp of fennel seeds 150g of coriander stalks, chopped 1 tbsp of Greek yoghurt
FOR THE MARINADE 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tbsp of corn oil, or vegetable oil FOR THE SAUCE 3 tbsp of mustard oil 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp black onion seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds 2 tsp fennel seeds 1 white onion, finely chopped 1/2 tsp ground turmeric 200g of boiled cashew paste 3 tbsp of Greek yoghurt 4 green chillies, slit lengthways 250ml of lamb stock, or water if preferred 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp of molasses, or jaggery 1 tbsp of coriander, chopped
FOR THE MUSHROOMS 50g of shiitake mushrooms 50g of oyster mushrooms 1/2 tsp red chilli powder 1 tbsp of rice flour 1 tbsp of cornflour 1/4 tsp carom seeds 1 tsp salt vegetable oil, for deep frying
Begin by preparing the Rajasthani spice paste. Heat the mustard oil in a pan until it begins to smoke, then add the ghee and reduce the temperature. Add the sliced onions to the pan and fry until softened
Throw in the garlic and cook until beginning to brown, then, in the order that they are listed, add the cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, peppercorns and fennel. Cook the spices on a high heat, taking care not to let them burn, for 1-2 minutes, before finally adding the coriander stalks. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool, then blitz in a blender until it forms a paste. Set the paste aside until required
combine the salt, red chilli powder and oil together to make the marinade and rub it thoroughly over the steaks. Set the meat aside for 30 minutes to marinate
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a frying pan and, in a separate dish, combine the mustard seeds, black onion seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds to make the pickling spice mix. Add these seeds to the hot pan and fry until they begin to crackle. At which point, add the onions to the pan and cook until golden
Add the turmeric to the pan followed by the cashew paste, stir through to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Add the yoghurt to the pan, whisking to combine, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring continuously to ensure the yoghurt does not separate
Stir in the stock, salt and green chillies and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened and glossy. Add the chopped coriander and molasses to the sauce and stir thoroughly to combine. Remove from the heat and leave to one side, keeping warm until required
Pre heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Set a large, oven proof frying pan over a medium heat and add a little oil to heat up. Place the marinated steaks into the pan and sear for 2-3 minutes, until they have browned evenly all over. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for a further 6-8 minutes, or longer depending on how you like your meat cooked
While the venison is roasting, preheat a deep fryer or place a pan of oil on the hob to heat up. Wash and slice the mushrooms, then combine with the chilli powder, rice flour, cornflour, carom seeds and salt. Deep fry the mushrooms until crisp and cooked through. Set aside for serving
Remove the venison from the oven. Mix 1 tablespoon of the Rajasthani spice paste with the Greek yoghurt until thoroughly combined and spread it over the top of the steaks. Return the meat to the oven - or under a hot grill, if you'd prefer - for 1-2 minutes until the coated steaks begins to brown
To serve, divide the sauce between 4 plates, followed by the deer steaks. Top with the crispy mushrooms.