“If you’re worried about using game in this dish, you can ease yourself in gently by upping the ratio of chicken. But, there are so many beautiful game birds to explore! Plus, game is seasonal, and so often better value than supermarket birds. Although you can get really nice jarred curry pastes nowadays, nothing compares to making your own. Using fresh herbs and spices makes such a difference, plus, you can experiment with flavours and chop and change depending on what you feel like – want it to be mega spicy? Leave the seeds in the chillies, or add extra to taste. Want a super-thick and rich sauce? Amp up that peanut butter. Have fun with it! ”
For the curry paste, peel and slice the onion and garlic, and peel and chop the ginger. Deseed and roughly slice the chillies, then pick the coriander leaves, finely chopping the stalks.
Place a large pan on a medium heat, throw in the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stalks, and char for 1 to 2 minutes to soften slightly.
Tip into a pestle and mortar with the remaining paste ingredients and bash to a thick paste – you may need to work in batches (or whiz in a food processor).
Place a large ovenproof ragù pan on a medium heat. Halve the chicken legs, then place in the pan skin-side down with the quail. Remove the partridge legs and add to the pan, then remove and discard the backbone, halving and adding the rest to the pan. Prep the pheasant in the same way, adding to the pan once halved.
Dry-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden all over, then add the curry leaves and 1 heaped tablespoon of the curry paste – keep it slowly ticking away while you prep the aubergines.
Leaving the small ones intact at the stalk, cut the aubergines into quarters lengthways, and cut the large aubergine into thick rounds, slice down into each round to make a pocket. Stuff all the aubergines generously with the paste, coating the outsides, too.
Layer the stuffed aubergines into the pan on top of the game birds, using up all the remaining paste (your pan will be super-full at this stage, but don’t worry as it will cook down slightly).
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are tender and the meat cooked through.
Pour the coconut milk into the gaps, add a splash of water and gently let it bubble together on a medium heat for 2 minutes to come together, then season to perfection. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves.