Achari rabbit

Pickle is on my list of top ten ultimate thrills. No joke. It makes me want to do a dance at dinnertime and it allows for simple rice and dal to become something. So it is no surprise that I enjoy ‘achari’, a curry made with pickling spices.

There are two types of rabbit you can buy to eat: wild and farmed. I buy wild because the rabbits are free to run wild and not cooped up in cages. Rabbit meat lends itself to a long slow cook surrounded by liquid so that it breaks down to yield a succulent soft and sweet meat.

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Picking spices: 1 tsp each of nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and black mustard seeds, plus a pinch fenugreek seeds
  • 4cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp plus a pinch salt
  • 1.2kg wild rabbit, diced
  • 200g spinach leaves
  • Juice of a lemon
  • sesame seeds, spring onions and yoghurt to serve (optional)

Heat the mustard oil and butter in large saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds. Stir-fry for a minute then add the onions.

Fry the onions for 10 minutes until wrinkled and golden then add the ginger and garlic. Fry for another 4 minutes until the mixture is brown then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, chilli powder turmeric and salt. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced.

Add the rabbit pieces to the pan, mix and coat the pieces. Pour around 200ml of warm water to the pan and bring to boil. Then turn the heat down to a whisper, pop the lid on and cook for 1 hour. Check on it every now and then to make sure the liquid hasn’t run dry (topping up if need be). After an hour, remove the lid, add two tablespoons of lemon juice and cook for another 30 minutes or until the rabbit meat is soft enough to be cut with a wooden spoon. Throw in the spinach in batches and Taste for seasoning and adjust the salt, chilli or lemon if need be.

To serve, transfer to a dish and top with a dollop of yoghurt, sesame seeds, a drizzle of mustard oil and a few wafer thin slices of spring onion. Eat with basmati rice or hot buttered naan.