This recipe, adapted from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking, proves that fruit-based savory sauces don't always have to be cloyingly sweet. The apricots make the dish pleasantly tart and the garam masala and ginger give some spice. Serve it with plenty of Basmati rice.
Game Hens Braised in Fragrant Apricot Sauce
Adapted from Classic Indian Cooking
- 2 game hens, skinned and cut in half through the breast bone
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 5 tbsp clarified butter or vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 tsp garam masala (store-bought or homemade)
- 3/4 cup canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- Place the apricots in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over the apricots, covering them by 1-inch. Let the apricots soak for two hours.
- Drain the apricots and finely chop them. Set them aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of clarified butter and cook the game hens until well-browned on each side, 6 to 8 minutes total. If necessary so as not to crowd the pan, brown the game hens in two batches. Once cooked, place the game hens in a casserole dish large enough to hold them in one layer.
- Add the remaining clarified butter to the skillet. Add the onion and cook until it turns light brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
- Add the ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant.
- Stir in the garam masala to the skillet and cook for a few seconds.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet, plus 3/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the sauce reduces to a thick puree, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Pour the apricot mixture over the game hens. Pour 1/4 cup of water down the sides of the casserole dish and cover it with foil.
- Place the casserole dish in the 375F oven and cook for 25 minutes.
- Reduce the oven to 325F and cook for another 25 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.