We think of pasta as being Italian but it’s eaten all over the world, and this Azerbaijani version is wonderful with venison, says Rose Prince. Serves four.
It is easy to believe that pasta belongs to Italy, but versions of it are found all over Europe and Asia.
In the south of France, nouilles are eaten with butter and cheese from the Alps. In Greece, you will always find a good dish of braised lamb and pasta on taverna menus.
In Spain, fine, short noodles are used in place of rice for a version of paella. But there are plenty of lesser-known dishes too. This venison pasta recipe, khingal, from Azerbaijan, is wonderful and makes a comforting supper.
The base comes in the form of soft and buttery egg pasta, which works perfectly with lightly spiced venison, fried with onions until crisp, plus a yoghurt, dill and coriander sauce.
Here, I’m using minced venison but I have no doubt it would be delicious with pheasant, too. The birds are, after all, native to the Caucasus.
You can make your own pasta for the recipe but I have used broken pieces of egg lasagne sheets to make it easier.
Venison Khingal – a delicious venison pasta recipe
- 150g butter
- 300g minced venison
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 onions, very finely sliced
- 10 sheets of egg lasagne, broken into pieces, approximately 5CM BY 3cm (for guidance)
- 30g extra butter
For the sauce:
- 200g thick Greek style yoghurt
- leaves from 4 sprigs of dill, chopped
- leaves from 4 sprigs of coriander, chopped
- a few pinches of sumac, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the butter in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat. Bring to
simmering point and allow to bubble for one minute. The butter will separate, with the fat on the surface and white grainy solids beneath. Carefully pour only the clear yellow fat — the clarified butter — into a large heavy-based frying pan, leaving the solids behind.
2. Heat the oven to its lowest setting, just for keeping the crisped, spiced meat warm. Heat the clarified butter in the pan then add the minced venison. Stir-fry it over a medium heat, using a spatula to separate the minced pieces as much as possible. It will gradually begin to crisp — this may take several minutes. As it does so, add the spices. If your pan is not large enough, cook the meat in two batches, adding half the seasoning to each batch. Lift the meat out with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Keep it warm in a dish in the oven.
3. Add the onions to the pan and fry very gently for 15 minutes until golden brown — it is very important that they do not burn. Remove them from the pan, shaking off any oil, then add to the lamb dish in the oven. Have ready a large serving platter.
4. Mix together the sauce ingredients, set to one side and then put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta, adding 2 teaspoon salt. Once the water boils, add the pasta and stir to make sure that it does not stick together. Cook according to the time given on the packaging — about five minutes. The pasta should be soft and not al dente.
5. Drain the pasta and put it back into the pan with the extra butter. Stir to coat then tip on to the warmed serving dish. Spoon over the crisp, spiced meat and onions, then pour thin lines of sauce back and forward over the surface. Finally, season with the sumac, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. For a side dish to this venison pasta recipe, serve a peppery green salad of watercress, spinach and some rocket leaves.