Royal Recipes Quail & Potato Curry for Queen Victoria

Royal Recipes TV Programme 2017, Quail & Potato Curry RecipeOn Royal Recipes today they made one of Queen Victoria’s favourite dishes, Quail & Potato Curry, Prince Harry’s Fiery Goat Curry and Mildred Nicholls’ Plum Pudding (a Xmas pudding).

This episode, episode 5 of series 1, looked at the Indian Empire and featured Paul Ainsworth and Michael Buerk, filmed at Audley End – with historian Annie Gray visiting Queen Victoria’s house on the Isle of Wight where she had an India inspired entertaining room – Queen Victoria never visited India.

As is the norm with the Royal Recipes programme, they don’t give you the quantities in the recipes.  What’s written below gives you an idea of how they made this, but it’s entertainment, not a “how to cook” programme, so you can miss things!

Quail & Potato Curry

A quail is a small bird.


  • 4 quail legs and 4 quail breasts
  • Onions, ghee, curry powder, garlic, chilli, caramelised onions – for the base
  • Fresh tomatoes, about 6
  • Par-boiled potatoes, about two medium/large potatoes
  • Half an apple, a Bramley apple would be good


  • Base: onions cooked in ghee (clarified butter), added in curry powder first as it needs to be
    cooked out.  Cheat: get the jar, he made his base from garlic, chilli, curry powder, caramelised onions.
  • Then turn the heat up and add in the grated ginger – couple of dozen gratings on a small grater, fresh tomatoes, chopped – looked about 6 or so. Mix those into the onion/curry mix.
  • Add in water, not stock – looked half a pint.
  • Bring to the boil
  • Add quail legs, these need cooking before the breasts. He added 4 quail’s legs.
  • Leave to simmer for an hour to an hour 10 mins and the legs will be tender.
  • Remove the legs from the sauce and pick the meat off the legs.
  • Blitz the sauce and then peel/grate half an apple into it
  • Add quail leg meat back to the sauce. Add in the breast chunks. If the sauce gets too thick
    use water. Water is so important. Not stock. Water is neutral.
  • Add in the chopped potatoes, par-boiled, chunks – looked about 2 medium potatoes.
  • Apple: grate some apple – gives fragrance, acidity – Bramley. He squeezed the apple juice out of the grated apple, then dropped the grated apple in, about half an apple.
  • Side dish: spinach, pinch of salt, butter. Produces its own steam, no water, nothing. Just wilt it down in a saucepan with the lid on.
  • Rice: steamed rice.
  • Chop coriander and add it into the curry sauce, stir in at the last minute – then serve your own quail & potato curry!

To serve:

Serve the curry, which is quite a thick/stodgy look, not runny, with a pile of wilted spinach and a spoon of steamed white rice.

Food cheats you could use would be:

  • Use a slow cooker to cook the sauce down as it takes over an hour.  Two hours in a slow cooker should manage that nicely.  For the steamed rice, use either an electric steamer or rice cooker, or steam the rice in a microwave.

They also cooked a curry inspired by Prince Harry’s Fiery Goat Curry, which he ate in Afghanistan – served with a Mint & Apple Raita and a side salad called Cachumba (containing thinly sliced red onions, cucumber, tomatoes, mixed with garam masala, chilli, squeezed lime juice and fresh coriander).

Fiery Goat Curry: 

  • The fiery goat curry was made by cooking down and caramelising onions until they’re really dark brown – in Nepalese cooking they like really dark onions.
  • In a food processor blitz a couple of cloves of garlic, chilli, ginger until fine. Tip into the pan with the onions and mix all that lot together.
  • Spices: They were really short on information as to what’s included here.  Dry fried beforehand. let them cool, blitz again clove, fenugreek, star anise, some others.  A bayleaf, with a rip, snapped cinnamon stick. Mix it all together.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes – small bowl of them.
  • The Goat: shoulder, browned previously – added into the onion/sauce dish. Mature goat for the flavour, not young goat.
  • Add water – half a mug/just enough to cover; don’t drown it, you can always add more later.
    At this point it looks very watery – lid on.  Leave to cook/simmer until it’s thickened.
  • Serve the fiery goat curry with a cachumba and the mint and apple raita.

Mildred Nicholls’ Plum Pudding: 

They waved Mildred Nicholls’ recipe book around again – pointing out that she had two puddings, the Royal Plum Pudding and the Servants’ Plum Pudding – and the only difference was the quantities. Michael and Paul Ainsworth were very scant with the details here, it wasn’t possible to be clear about the spices, but the pudding mix included sultanas, currants, raisins, mixed peel, suet, demerara sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, breadcrumbs and rum.

The ingredients were all mixed together, then put into a well buttered pudding bowl.  It is important that the mix is squeezed down and pushed down into the pudding basin, leaving no air pockets.

Fold some foil and fit the foil over the top of the pudding dish, making sure it’s TIGHT so no moisture gets in.  Tie the tin foil with string, tight.

Place the pudding bowl into a large saucepan of boiling water; put an upturned saucer at the bottom of the large saucepan so the pudding basin is not on the bottom.  Make sure there’s sufficient water in the saucepan.  Put the lid on and leave it to simmer for 8 hours.  Keep checking the water level and top it up with more boiling water as it gets low.

My Food Cheat: You can use a slow cooker for the steaming part of cooking a Plum pudding.

Who Was Mildred Nicholls?

Mildred Nicholls worked at Buckingham Palace from 1907 to 1919, when she left to get married.  She started off as a “7th level kitchen assistant” and left as a “3rd level kitchen assistant”.  While she was in the job she kept a recipe book, writing down all the recipes she made.  The book is now in the museum – and they republished it recently.

Born in 1889, Mildred Dorothy Nicholls lived most of her life in Chelsea and died in 1972.

Buy the Book:

If you want to buy the book that has Mildred Nicholls’ recipes in, I can’t find it for sale at the moment, there’s a similar Royal Recipes cookbook available on Amazon UK, if you want to check that one out and/or look for Mildred’s book, which will, no doubt, appear at some point!  One similar book was published in 2008 called For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace by Kathryn Jones published by The Royal Collection (2008), which can be bought on Amazon UK – described as “a lavishly illustrated behind-the-scenes look at three hundred and fifty years of royal banquets, from Charles II to the present day”

E&OE, the programme’s not ideal for taking notes 🙂 – they show you the recipes being cooked, but are scant with the details and quantities.