Rude Food by Vir Sanghvi: Telling the goats from the sheep
Indian food is hardly ever made with lamb but our chefs lie about this because they are too embarrassed to admit they use goat
My wife does not like chicken. Take her to a kabab restaurant and she will refuse to eat the chicken tikka. A barrah kabab or a raan will always be preferred. As for biryani, it must always be made with mutton. There is, according to her, no such thing as a good chicken biryani. A chicken burger is a joke, she says; a waste of good bread.
“I am sorry”, she will say. “I don’t like lamb.”
It is the same in the Caribbean, the one other place where goat meat is popular. In 1972/73, when the Rolling Stones were recording an album in Jamaica, they subsisted on a diet of meat patties in the studio. (When they were not indulging in more exotic substances, I imagine.) At some stage they discovered that the patties were not made from beef or lamb as they had assumed . They were made from goat meat. The Stones were shocked. Goat? They wondered: who the hell eats goats?
That was in 1973, and even today most people in the West still regard the idea of cooking goat as either odd or even revolting.
Lamb is actually a very different kind of meat from goat. For one, it is much fattier. For another it smells very different. If you know your meat, then it is easy to tell the difference between a biryani made with lamb and one made with goat.
Speaking for myself, I love good lamb but I take her point about how Indian food only really tastes right when you use goat.
As for our restaurateurs and chefs, I can understand why they are still so scared of saying that they are serving goat meat. (Not every Westerner is as excited by the idea of eating goat as the Rolling Stones were.) But it is time to stop lying and pretending that the goat on the menu is actually lamb.