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Pheasant Tikka Masala – Warm and Comforting

A chill in the air means central heating food for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Sail Loft

I’d say that summer is officially over, but it saddens me to declare that meteorological partypooper. Rain has really stopped play lately, but it does mean we retreat inside for a bit of what the Danes would call ‘hygge’ and start spending lots of time in the kitchen (pronounced hoo-ga, well kind-of, perhaps you need a hint of a Scandinavian accent too!). Denmark is up there as one of the world’s happiest countries apparently, but I don’t think Suffolk is far behind personally… There isn’t a direct translation of ‘hygge’ in English, this super-sensory soul-satisfying word is a feeling, an inner glow and a comforting sense of place and satisfaction. At this time of year as that autumnal cool envelops us, it is great to be out foraging, wrapped-up warm, seeking out some treasured fungi or hedgerow fruits, or wandering around your local farmers’ market, snaffling up some goodies from an artisan grower or producer.

Of course, October is the real start to the game season when feathered and furred wild food comes a-plenty to my kitchen door and features heavily on our warming seasonal menus. Nothing is quite ‘hyggeligt’ as a good curry cosied-up in front of the fire with your loved one and family on a cold, damp evening.

So for your enjoyment and more than a little ‘hygge’ for your supper, how about combining local, fresh game and curry, perfect for an early autumn treat!?

Enjoy, Jonny

The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ
Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us by Southwold’s dunes near the campsite and lifeboat station.
W: www.sailloftsouthwold.uk   T: 01502 725713

Phone to book for our daily specials: Monday Madness – two courses for £10; Curry-tastic Tuesday; Wednesday Burger Bonanza; Thursday Live Music; Friday Steak Night

Pheasant Tikka Masala

Now you can make your own paste for your take on Britain’s favourite curry, it is far from difficult but if time is pressing, just find a good quality ready-made one from a decent supermarket or deli. To be honest, if you aren’t going to toast and grind your own whole spices, a jar can actually have fresher flavours and more zing. That old ground cumin lingering in the larder with an expiry date of a few years-back is really not going to taste of much more than bitter dust by now. Googling online is a good source for a recipe to make your own whole spice tikka masala paste, type in ‘jamie oliver easy curry pastes’ for one of the simplest.

This sweet nutty curry cries out for golden pulao rice or a simple flatbread. If you like more vegetables alongside, a potato dish like sag aloo or aloo gobi with spinach or cauliflower works very well.

(serves 4)

Local rapeseed oil

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

1 (optional) red chilli, deseeded and finely-chopped

Small bunch fresh coriander, split into stems and leaves

2 heaped tbsp good tikka masala paste

4 pheasant breasts, skinned and cut into chunks

2 handfuls ripe baby tomatoes or 1 tin

150ml coconut milk

1 tbsp caster sugar

Flaked almonds (optional)

In a hot lidded sauté pan, heat up a good drizzle of oil, then add the onions and start to stir-fry over a medium heat. As the onions soften and tinge golden on the edges after a few minutes, add the garlic, ginger, chilli (if using) and chopped coriander stalks. Continue frying until starting the onion mixtures start to dry and brown for another few minutes. Add in the tikka paste and the pheasant, turn up the heat to medium-hot and fry to get some good colour on the meat, whilst stirring for around 10 minutes.


Season well, add the tomatoes, breaking them with your fingers as they drop into the pan. Pour in the coconut milk and the sugar, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn down to low, cover and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the meat is tender. Serve in hot bowls with shredded coriander leaf and almonds (if using) sprinkled on top.