Indian Butter Pheasant

I had Indian on the brain a couple weeks ago. I told Rick we had to go to an Indian restaurant, which we did. And then I went home and made this. Funny thing was, when I lived in California, I never really gave Indian food a second thought. I'm not sure why that was. I like to think that my tastes have changed-- matured, but I'm willing to wager that a certain Gordon Ramsay Great Escape episode is responsible for my sudden interest. As lame as it may sound, sometimes TV is my gateway to the world. 

A popular dish, butter chicken, or murgh makhani, is an Indian dish that is known around the world. This is my interpretation of India's butter chicken, except I've turned it into butter pheasant. The tomato "gravy" is the star here, a creamy, rich yet vibrant sauce that accompanies the pheasant very well. This dish is also very simple to make. Don't let the list of ingredients fool you. As long as you can find the garam masala spice, you're golden. 

For your enjoyment, here's a recent photo I took of my friend's dog "Rio." She's a young, happy pointing lab who loves to fetch birds all day long. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 2 days of marinating
Cook Time: 40 minutes
- 1 pound of skinless pheasant breasts (and legs, if you have them)
- 1/3 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
Tomato "Gravy":
- 1 tablespoon of peanut oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- quarter of an onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of butter or ghee
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste (leftover from marinade)
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of tomato puree
- pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup of finely ground cashews
- 4 servings of cooked jasmine rice

1. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, blend ginger and garlic together to make a paste. In a small bowl, mix together 2 teaspoons of the garlic ginger paste and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Put pheasant in a zip-lock bag and pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for 48 hours. Reserve the rest of the ginger paste in a small container, refrigerated. 

2. Grill or broil pheasant until browned on the outside. Don't cook all the way through. 

Cut breasts into bite-size pieces and shred meat off leg bones, if you have them. Set meat aside.
3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil over medium high heat. Sauté shallot and onion until translucent. Then stir in butter, lemon juice, the reserved garlic ginger paste, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. 

Then add tomato puree, and stir for 2 minutes.

Next, stir in 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. 
Add cayenne pepper to taste. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
4. Next, stir in 1/4 cup of finely ground cashews. This will thicken the sauce. We bought a bag of cashews and ran it through the food processor. To make it more fine, we gave the ground cashews another quick grind with the mortar and pestle.

If sauce is too thick, add more cream or water. Then add salt and pepper, to taste. 

Add the pheasant into the sauce and heat thoroughly, making sure pheasant is cooked. 

Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Finally, serve with jasmine rice. 


  1. It's really tasty dish to eat.Thanks for sharing with us great blog.

    Delhi Restaurants

    1. Thanks for checking out our blog! We're starting to get to know Indian food better. Hope to have more Indian dishes up in the future.


  2. Looks delicious and I love how easy to follow the recipes are. Would love to try it out.
    Laxmi Nagar


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