Pigeon cotes are a common sight in rural and urban areas of North Africa. These birds are small and tender, more like our farm-reared pigeons than wild ones.

3 tbsp olive oil

6 young pigeons

225 g / 8 oz button onions, peeled

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

¾ - 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

large pinch saffron threads, toasted and crushed

850 ml / 1½ pt chicken stock



2 tbsp clear honey

2 oranges, peeled and thickly sliced

lightly toasted almond halves, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large, heavy, flameproof casserole, add the pigeons in batches and cook until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a dish. Stir the onions into the casserole and sauté until golden. Stir in the cinnamon, bay leaf, ginger, saffron, stock and seasoning and bring to the boil. Return the pigeons to the casserole with any juices that have collected in the dish, cover and cook gently for about 1 hour, depending on their age, turning the pigeons occasionally, until they start to be tender.

Add the honey, cover again then cook for a further 30 - 45 minutes until the pigeons are very tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pigeons to a large warmed serving plate, cover and keep warm.

Boil the cooking liquid until lightly thickened, adding the orange slices towards the end. Discard the cinnamon and bay leaf, if liked. Pour the liquid over the pigeons and scatter over the almonds.

serves 6

area : North Africa

course : poultry

source : North African Cooking / Hilaire Walden