A couple of weeks ago I set out to cook some wild ducks in my Homdoor Tandoori oven. I was “gifted” these ducks by a friend who hunts. He only eats the meat he occasionally hunts, he never shops for it and he got a couple of extra ducks that his family didn’t need, so he rang my doorbell. We don’t eat meat very often, mainly on Christmas, and Thanksgiving, so when I was looking for something that I could cook up in my Homdoor Tandoor Oven those ducks were just quacking my name.
There are a lot of game recipes in some of my older Indian cookbooks, where the chefs all start their bios by talking about getting “thrashed” as young kitchen boys by their stern taskmaster senior chefs. A lot of those books feature game, black partridge, red jungle fowl, quail, bar-headed goose, you get the picture. The only one I was familiar with was Quail as we have quite a covey of them living in our hedges, but these were wild ducks, Pin Tailed ducks to be precise, and I had one in my freezer courtesy of our friend. So Duck was what I decided to go with.
I’ve plucked, cleaned, and cooked wild duck before. My dad had a friend who hunted and he’d occasionally drop off a bird or two to the house and I’d go out into the back yard and get to work on them. I was about 13 at the time, no one else was willing to do it, so of course, I pulled an old wooden kitchen chair up onto the cement backyard, set down the San Francisco Chronicle around me like carpet and got to plucking. I’ll have to admit, cooking pre-cleaned, prepped and ready wild duck was a LOT easier and took a lot less time. All I had to do was make a tandoori marinade and let them sit overnight in it.
Cooking in the Homdor Tandoor is just like barbecuing except faster since the temperatures one cooks at are so high. Any tandoor dish can be grilled on a BBQ but the Tandoor is easier and faster and waaaay more authentic in flavor. So here’s a simple marinade for wild duck which also works for chicken. It’s not as complicated as many tandoor marinades I’ve made but all the ingredients are easily found in your local market if you don’t already have them at home. So here goes!
1 wild duck or chicken (If it’s chicken remove the skin. The skin can be left on the duck as it’s quite crispy and delicious out of the tandoor, and not greasy or fatty like a domestic duck.)
1 3/4 cups of full-fat yogurt
1 Serrano chili
Juice of 1 lemon
4 shallots or garlic cloves crushed
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1-inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 tsp Kashmiri chili (mix equal parts of cayenne and paprika to get an equivalent taste)
1 tsp turmeric
1 large onion
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
Red and yellow food coloring (optional)
Blend the onion, garlic, or shallot, Serrano chili, and ginger together in a food processor.
Add in the yogurt, sesame oil, and vinegar.
Add in the turmeric, cumin, Kashmiri chili, and coriander.
Make slits in the skin of the duck or directly into the chicken meat.
Salt the meat to taste.
Pour the lemon juice over the duck parts.
In a small bowl mix together red and yellow food coloring, until you get an orange tint, brush that on the duck.
Pour the rest of it into the yogurt marinade mixture, then put the duck in a glass, or stainless steel bowl. Pour the marinade over it.
Work the marinade into the meat.
Then put a lid on the container and refrigerate it overnight for cooking the next day.
The next afternoon, we fired up the old Homdoor Tandoor Oven. If you are using a tandoor oven, clean and oil your skewers. Do NOT poke yourself with them as it hurts, and no matter how many times I tell myself this it always happens, at least once I become a tandoor pin cushion.
Use small pieces of potato or onion to hold whatever you’re cooking on the skewers. Tandoor is not fun if everything you’ve marinated just slides right off into the purifying flames. Always place a stopper between the pieces of whatever you are cooking which helps it all cook evenly.
Notice the handy temperature gun. This is a great little device I think I paid about 15 bucks for and it tells you just how hot your fire is. You want that sucker to get to about 525, or 550 for cooking this dish.
When your temperature is ready, it’s time to load the skewers into the oven. The temperature is controlled by adjusting the lid and a small bottom draft door. The lid goes on partially covering the top of the oven to keep the heat in. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes.
Check the progress during the cooking, you want to rotate your skewers every few minutes so the roast is even. When the duck is done, take it out of the tandoor.
Slide it off of the skewers carefully, without launching it into the neighbor’s yard for their dogs to enjoy. Plate it and serve it up.