A Recipe for Indian Pheasant Curry with Lentils and Wild Rice

This flavorful dish works great with any wild upland game bird

We are having an odd summer up here in Minnesota. I was gone fishing this past weekend, and most the weekend it was in the low 50’s and rainy. Just a bit cooler than we are used to for summer. When it is cool outside and you have been on a boat in the wind and rain for hours, you need something hearty to warm you up at the end of the day. Nothing warms me up quite like curry. I am a huge fan of all varieties of curry, and curries work incredibly well with wild game.

I had a package of pheasant breasts left over in the freezer and was thinking I would put together a Thai-style green curry. That thought changed when I can across one of those 45-second Facebook videos for a rice and lentil dish. The lentil dish looked delicious, and since it seemed a little more Indian in origin, I changed my plan slightly and opted for a more traditional Indian-style curry. If you don’t have pheasant, you could easily make this with chicken or any other game bird.

This is a very hearty dish, but isn’t at all spicy. If you wanted to heat it up a little, you could add some chilies to it or use a hot curry powder and double up on the curry. The aromas that were coming from the stove made both my kids hover around the kitchen. When we sat down to eat, my 5-year-old took one bite and said, “Damn, that’s tasty.” I wasn’t sure if I should be proud or mortified—I’m just glad he liked it.

Pheasant recipes
The completed dishJamie Carlson

Indian pheasant curry with lentils and wild rice:

2 lb. pheasant meat, cut into bite sized cubes

½ of a large red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. curry powder

1 ¼ ounce can of coconut milk

1 ¼ ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 eight ounce can of tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Pheasant recipes
Wild pheasant, ready to be cooked.Jamie Carlson

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Garam Masala, curry powder, and a pinch of salt with the pheasant and toss to coat. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large pan with a cover. Sear the pheasant for a couple of minutes on each side until all the pheasant is browned. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and tomato paste and reduce the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the Lentils and Wild Rice:

1 cup lentils

1 cup broken wild rice

4 cups pheasant stock (or chicken stock)

½ of a large red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Wild game bird recipes
Browning the pheasant meat in the pan.Jamie Carlson

Heat oil in a covered pot over medium heat, stir in the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the lentils and the stock and simmer for 15 minutes with the cover on. After 15 minutes add the wild rice, cinnamon, cumin, and bay leaves. Cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the lentils and rice are tender. If you need to add more stock, add a ½ cup at a time until the lentils and rice are cooked to your liking. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve this dish, spoon the lentils and wild rice onto a plate and top with the pheasant, accompanied by a good amount of the sauce. Garnish with parsley and a few dollops of Greek yogurt.