My wife doesn’t like chicken. Take her to a kabab restaurant and she will refuse to eat the chicken tikka. a barra kabab or one raan will always be preferred. As for the biryani, it should always be made with mutton. According to her, there is no such thing as a good chicken biryani. A chicken burger is a joke, she says; a waste of good bread.
OK fine. I’m not a chicken fan either. And the horrible mass-produced industrial chickens that most Indian restaurants use are so tasteless and chewy that I can understand why she refuses to eat them.
But then it gets more complicated. Chefs who know his preference for red meat offer him lamb chops, cooked in the English style. Or maybe a lamb stew or a French-cooked navarin.
“I’m sorry,” she will say. “I don’t like lamb.”
“But, madam,” they will protest. “You liked the kababit’s yesterday! You said you would only eat mutton biryani… ”
I can understand why the chefs are so confused. But frankly, it’s their fault; the fault of the entire restaurant industry, in fact.
By now you should know that most Indians eat goat. The ‘meat’ your butcher or ‘meat-wallahThe vend is almost always goat. All the major meat dishes in Indian cuisine use goat cheese.
The widespread use of goat as a preferred red meat is a particularly South Asian phenomenon. In most of the world, they use lamb. And when foreigners hear that the kababs they have tasted while traveling through India are made from goat, they tend to panic a bit.
It’s the same in the Caribbean, the only other place where goat meat is popular. In 1972/73, when the Rolling Stones were recording an album in Jamaica, they subsisted in the studio on a diet of meat patties. (When they weren’t indulging in more exotic substances, I imagine.) At some point, they discovered that the patties weren’t made with beef or lamb like they had assumed. They were made from goat meat. The Stones were shocked. Goat? They wondered: who the hell eats the goats?
Mick Jagger says he dug a bit and found that goat was the meat of choice in Jamaica and one of the island’s specialties was goat’s head soup. (It’s called Mannish Water, which is such a good name that it could also be the name of a blues song.) They were so fascinated by the novelty of eating goat meat that they called it l ‘album Goat’s Head Soup and commissioned cover illustrations with a goat’s head in a jar. Their record company thought it was disgusting, refused to allow reproduction of the image on the cover of the record, and eventually the album came out with a photo of Jagger and the other Stones on the cover.
That was 1973, and even today most Westerners still regard the idea of cooking goat as strange or even revolting.
There are exceptions, of course. In some European countries, it is not uncommon to eat horse, donkey or fox, so goat is not that bad. But in the English-speaking world, even the horse, donkey, etc., are considered unfit for human consumption.
Indian chefs and restaurateurs, aware of the prejudices against the goat, have started to lie about the origin of the meat they put in their dishes. They first started calling it sheep, stealing the term used for meat from an older sheep and applying it to goat meat. Then they just resorted to simple lies, using the term “lamb” on menus even when the dish was made with goat.
Hence the confusion that accompanies my wife’s gastronomic preferences. She loves the goat. She doesn’t like lamb. And the chefs who have spent their lives trying to tell the difference between the two animals just don’t get it.
Lamb is actually a very different type of meat from goat. On the one hand, it is much fatter. For another, it smells very different. If you know your meat, then it’s easy to tell the difference between a biryani made with lamb and one made with goat.
There is not a lot of good quality lamb in India (except for a few pockets, such as parts of Rajasthan), so almost all the meat (“mutton”) that is served to you in restaurants will be. the goat. But in restaurants that serve European food, there will be real lamb, and it will usually be imported from Australia or New Zealand. It will cost five times as much as Indian goat, but chefs will claim, with some justification, that the expense is worth it because you can’t really use goat in European recipes.
My wife’s aversion to the smell of lamb is so acute that we usually don’t go to many Indian restaurants, for example in the UK, as the familiar dishes will be made with lamb rather than ‘with goat and she will say they taste bad or smell strange. .
Personally, I love good lamb, but I understand his take that Indian food only tastes really good when you use goat.
The irony is that goat is almost always the healthiest meat. Most of the goats in India roam the fields and eat grass. There is no tradition of industrial goat pens. And goat is leaner meat. It’s much less saturated fat than pork, lamb, beef, and — are you ready for that? — Chicken!
If your doctor has instructed you to cut down on red meat and stick with chicken, you might want to kindly ask him to ask Google why goat is much less fat than the chicken we get in the Indian market. . He’s likely to cite some American wisdom about the harms of red meat, not realizing that when American health experts warn about red meat, they’re usually talking about beef which is a type of meat. very different.
As for our restaurateurs and chefs, I can understand why they are still so afraid to say that they serve goat meat. (Not all Westerners are as keen on eating goat as the Rolling Stones are.) But it’s time to stop lying and pretend that the goat on the menu is actually lamb.
Now is the right time to do it. Goat is now a fashionable and sustainable lean meat, and sales are increasing in countries like the United States as a new generation abandons the prejudices of the past and embraces the goat.
Indians will not be shocked to learn that the mutton on the menu is goat. And as for foreigners, why would we lie about our most beloved meat just to appease their delicate sensibilities?
The opinions expressed by the columnist are personal
From Brunch HT, December 5, 2021
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