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Moroccan Poussins with Quinces


serves 2 greedy people

You can fiddle around with this recipe, adding more cayenne if you want the dish to be spicy, using cinnamon instead of ginger, and leaving out the saffron altogether.

As the poussins cook, the liquid and onions beneath them make a lovely sauce so as soon as the birds are cooked, the dish is ready to serve. Presented on a platter of couscous, it's a sumptuous looking feast.

Use apples or pears when quinces aren't in season, though you need to cook them for much less time.

1 quince
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs honey
2 poussins
30g butter and 1 tbs olive oil
1 large onion
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne
couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
good pinch saffron
salt and pepper
water or stock
fresh coriander (1 of the little supermarket packs is enough)


Peel the quince, halve and scoop out the core. Put the halves in a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil, add the honey, turn the heat down to a good simmer and let the quinces cook until they are absolutely tender (this can take anything from 20 - 40 minutes).

Heat the butter and the olive oil in an oven-proof casserole in which the poussins can fit quite snugly. Quickly brown the poussins all over just to give them some colour. Be careful not to let the fats burn. Remove the birds and put set them aside.

In the same saucepan, cook the onion until it is soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook for one minute to release the aromas. Add enough water or chicken stock to give you a couple of inches of liquid on the bottom or the pan.

Season the poussin and put them back in the pan. Bring the liquid just up to the boil then add the saffron and turn the heat down immediately. Chop the coriander stalks and at this to the pot.

Put the casserole, uncovered into an oven heated to 180 C and cook for 40- 45 minutes, or until the juices of the birds are running clear.

Taste the sauce around the poussins and if you want it to be any sweeter then add a little of the juice from the quinces.

Drain the quinces, slice them and add them to the pot along with the rest of the coriander, roughly chopped.

Serve with couscous or rice into which you have stirred some chopped preserved lemon, or lemon juice and some grated rind, and plenty of chopped parsley.

Reproduced by kind permission of Diana Henry from her book 'Crazy Water, Pickled Lemon', published by Mitchell Beazley; ISBN: 1840005017

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