Veiled quail with rice, date and rose petal stuffing

Veiled quail with rice, date and rose petal stuffing

New Middle Eastern Food
8 as a starter
Mark Roper

These pretty quail with their fragrant, exotic stuffing won ‘dish of the year’ in The 2010 Age Good Food Guide. Serve them as the centrepiece of a banquet spread on a special occasion. Otherwise, serve one each as a dinner party starter, or two for a main course.


Quantity Ingredient
8 x 200g jumbo quail
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bushy sprigs rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
yoghurt sauce or dip, to serve

Rice, date and rose petal stuffing

Quantity Ingredient
120ml olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
medium-grain rice, rinsed in cold water
3 medjool dates, pitted and cut into 1 cm dice
200ml good-quality chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 bay leaves
40g flaked almonds
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rose petals
freshly ground black pepper
8 vine leaves
assorted edible flowers, (optional)


  1. To make the stuffing, heat a third of the oil in a medium saucepan and gently fry the shallot until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and stir well. Add the dates and pour on enough of the stock to cover the rice by two fingers’ width. Add the spices, salt and bay leaves, cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  2. While the rice is cooking, fry the almonds in the remaining olive oil until they turn golden brown. The almonds burn very easily, so stir them constantly.
  3. When the rice is cooked, tip it into a mixing bowl, remove the bay leaves, and fork it through with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Mix in the almonds and rose petals and leave to cool completely, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon rosewater.
  4. When you are ready to cook the quail, preheat the oven to 180°C. Stuff each bird fairly tightly with 2–3 tablespoons of the stuffing. Secure the skin at the opening with a toothpick and tie the legs together over the parson’s nose.
  5. Pour a little more extra-virgin olive oil into a large roasting tin. Brush a little more over the quails and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drape a vine leaf over each bird and tuck them underneath so they almost wrap around entirely. Sprinkle with a little more oil and roast in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes. Baste with the pan juices, lower the temperature to 160ºC and cook for a further 2 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle on a little rosewater and scatter on edible flowers, if using. Serve with your favourite yoghurt dip or sauce.
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