Wild boar samosas
“Pig-sticking”, or wild boar hunting, was a favourite sport of the maharajahs. The competition didn’t end there, though: once in the kitchen, the boar would be cooked in a myriad ways, all designed to amaze guests. Those days may have long since ended, but the gamey, porcine flavour of wild boar mince makes it a great friend of the spice cupboard; if your butcher can’t get boar (you can hunt it down online at the Wild Meat Company), use free-range pork instead. I serve these samosas with a simple apple and fennel seed chutney, but they go with mango chutney or cucumber and mint raita , too. Makes 18-22 samosas.
For the mince
1 star anise
1½ tsp cumin seeds, plus extra to finish
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
2cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbsp tomato puree
¼ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
600g wild boar (or pork) mince
For the samosas
2 packs filo pastry
100g unsalted butter, melted
For the chutney (optional)
2 large bramley apples
50g caster sugar
1½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
A pinch of salt
First make the chutney. Peel, core and chop the apples, then put them in a pan on a medium heat with the sugar, fennel seeds, ginger and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the apple has collapsed, then adjust the sugar, salt and lemon to taste and put aside to cool.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6, and line two oven trays with baking paper or foil. Put the star anise in a pestle and mortar, and pound as finely as you can. Add the cumin, grind coarsely, then set aside.
Put the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, stir-fry the spice mix for a minute, then add the onion and fry for 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the ginger and garlic, fry for a couple of minutes, then stir in the tomato puree, cloves, pepper, chilli, cinnamon and salt, and cook for a few minutes more. Add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, cook gently for 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
Unroll the pastry and peel off two sheets; keep the rest covered under a tea towel until needed, otherwise it will dry out. Brush one sheet with butter, lay the other over the top and cut lengthways into three strips. Make a cone shape with each piece and put a tablespoon and a half of filling inside. Fold the top of the pastry over the open side of the cone, to close it and create a triangle, then brush with butter to seal; cut off any excess. Sprinkle with cumin seeds, lay out on the prepared trays and repeat with the remaining filo and filling.
Bake the samosas for 20 minutes, until golden and crisp, and serve on a platter with chutney for dipping.
Roast duck fesenjan
This was a favourite of 16th-century Mughal emperor Humayan. It’s an opulent and majestic dish that’s best served in a banqueting hall, with goblets of wine and basmati rice; if you don’t have a hall, the Christmas dining table makes a more than adequate substitute. Serves four.
00g walnuts halves
1 duck (about 2kg)
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp honey
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
600ml chicken stock
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for five to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool, reserve a handful for decorating the duck later, then finely grind the rest in a food processor or spice grinder.
Put the duck in an oven tray lined with foil. Quarter the pomegranate and stuff two quarters in the cavity; deseed the other two halves and set aside. Prick the duck’s legs all over with the tip of a sharp knife, season the bird inside and out, and roast for an hour and a half.
While the duck is cooking, make the sauce. Put the oil in a frying pan on a low to medium heat, then cook the onions for 15 minutes, until caramelised. Take out a spoonful to decorate the duck with later, then add the garlic to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, honey, pepper, chilli and salt, add the stock, cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce comes together, then take off the heat.
At the end of its cooking time, remove the duck from the oven and spoon out any fat in the tray (save this for roasting potatoes). Pour the sauce over the duck, cover the tray with foil, then return to the oven for a final 30 minutes. Remove and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, pour the sauce on to a high-sided serving platter and place the duck in the centre. Scatter the remaining walnuts, onions and pomegranate seeds on top, and serve with basmati rice and a side salad.
Recipe by Meera Sodha