Pat Chapman’s Tandoori Pigeon Breasts


This recipe comes from curry king Pat Chapman’s ‘Indian Restaurant Cookbook’, one of the first cookery books I ever bought. It is so stained and splashed with spices and crusted dhal that I could quite easily chuck the book itself into a pan and have it for lunch.  But that woudl be foolish.

This Tandoori recipe can be used for any kind of bird – chicken, duck, quail etc. I’ve opted for pigeon breasts, as I had some left in the freezer from Alternative Meats. The texture is is almost like rump steak and the flavour deep and gamey. The Tandoori marinade gives the outside of the meat an almost velvety quality.

I’ve adjusted Pat’s quantities for my recipe.  It was delicious with a pile of chickpea dhal.

Serves 2-4

4-8 pigeon breasts
2 tbsp lemon juice
Half tsp salt

For the marinade:

100ml natural yoghurt
1 tbsp English mustard (or use mustard oil)
3-4 garlic cloves
Half tsp salt

Marinade spices:

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cummin powder
Half tsp ginger powder
(Orange food colouring is optional – I didn’t have any!)


1. With a sharp knife, slash the flesh of the pigeon breasts. Rub in the lemon juice and salt and leave for half an hour.

2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together, including the spices, then rub throughly into the pigeon breasts. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge overnight to let the flavours develop.

3. Next day, heat a griddle pan until it is smoking hot. Shake the excess marinade off the pigeon breasts and griddle for 1-2 mins each side. Do not overcook. Pigeon becomes as tough as leather soles if you don’t serve it very rare. If you don’t have a griddle pan, cook under a hot grill.






4. Serve with chickepea dhaland chapatis.



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