On The First Day Of Christmas…. An Indian-ish Partridge

The first day of Christmas is Christmas Day (the twelfth day being the sixth of January, the arrival of the kings), so today I am putting up a post on roast partridge.

The Roman cookery writer Apicius suggests either dressing partridges in a dressing of pepper, lovage, celery-seed, mint, myrtle-berries or raisins, honey, wine, vinegar and oil – quite a dressing. It may have also been served warm like a gravy. He suggests boiling the partridge, feathers and all, and then plucking while wet.

My method, most of you will be relieved to hear, involves purchasing an already-plucked bird. The Indian spices, and the lime, make the roast partridge a little exotic, but it’s still a lot easier than Apicius’ recommendations. If you’re looking for something even simpler, cook them, as Nigel Slater does, just with lemons, clementines and thyme.

Serve this with a fresh green Titanic salad of parsley (or a mix of parsley and coriander), spring onions and iceberg lettuce.

Allow just over an hour in the oven for these birds.


partridge recipe


Recipe for an Indian-ish partridge

Serves 4


  • 4 partridges (plucked and gutted of course)
  • 500g/18 oz thick Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • a few good grinds of nutmeg (follow this link if you’re struggling with your grinder)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger (a microplane zester is great for this)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed with 2 tsp smoked salt
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small onion
  • 500g/18 oz new potatoes
  • 240 ml/1 cup red wine
  • 40g/¼ cup dried cranberries
  • Indonesian long pepper
  • olive oil for frying


  1. Wash the new potatoes, cut any especially large ones in half, add to well-salted lukewarm water and bring to the boil. Cook for about a quarter of an hour and drain.
  2. Brown the birds on all sides in a little olive oil in a frying pan.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 210°C.
  4. Cut the lime into eight segments.
  5. Peel and chop the onion relatively finely.
  6. Stuff each partridge with a slice of lime and some of the chopped onion.
  7. To save washing up, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic, ginger, pepper and salt into the yoghurt in the tub it comes in.
  8. Pour a little olive oil into a roasting tin and place your partridges on top.
  9. Scatter the rest of the lime segments and the chopped onion around.
  10. Empty the yoghurt on top of the birds.
  11. Put into the oven for about forty five minutes.
  12. After about twenty minutes add the potatoes in around the birds, mixing them in with the onion and lime. Don’t worry if the yoghurt starts to go slightly lumpy – it will still taste great.
  13. About fifteen minutes after that turn the potatoes and add the red wine and the cranberries.
  14. Ten minutes later take the birds out – if they look done turn the oven down to about 140°C (or move to the Aga simmering oven) and leave to keep warm there for a quarter of an hour, or until you need to serve.


partridge recipe
The potatoes are cooked in with the partridges and the red wine makes instant gravy with the yoghurt, all the flavours meld together.



If you’re interested in learning about game, we have an episode all about it on our podcast Serving Up Sustainability! You can listen below.




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