As you probably know – fresh meat is among the key pillars of this lifestyle. I’m not sure the meat we get at our local butcher is grass-fed or grain fed. I know hay forms a large part of livestock feed here, so i’m hoping the meat tends towards the equivalent of grass-fed pastured meat. Red meat can be found in most places save in states where being a non-vegetarian is frowned upon. In most cities, beef rarely goes by it’s own name, but has earned the moniker ‘bada mutton’ (or ‘big’ mutton). You can typically ask around at the mutton shop for where you can source fresh beef. Oh, incidentally, mutton here is rarely that, it’s typically goat meat (at most shops you can see live animals tethered outside, so that’s helpful).
For those of you who are used to buying meat from the retail outlets, a trip to one of these market stalls can border on the terrifying, however, there is absolutely no comparing meat sourced fresh from a slaughter and the more convenient, less hideous packaged meats. Goat meat is quite expensive here, averaging Rs. 340 – Rs. 360 a kilo, while Beef is far cheaper, averaging around Rs. 140 – Rs. 180 a kilo. I typically buy four to five kilos of beef every weekend, separated into five or so packs. The guidelines for buying beef below work for goat as well, but I personally feel beef is a better alternative.
The cuts i prefer are called ‘safade’ or white meat – usually the tenderloin or loin muscles. Less flavourful than the shanks or ribs, these pieces cook faster, and are ideal for stir frying and soups (provided they are cut thin). Ribs are ideal for biriyani or if you have the time, a nice grill. The red meat though – consisting of shoulder, shanks, rib, and neck muscles – is packed with flavour and a great deal of fat. While the fat doesn’t worry me, most of our dishes call for a degree of pressure cooking. The problem is, this renders the fat, and typically coats the meat with a form of greasy oil that solidifies if cooled to even room temperature. This coats the roof of the mouth, and can be quite a pain to clear from dishes. I would recommend using this meat trimmed of all external fat in dishes that do not have much oil in them, but a lot of lime and vinegar (think goan cuisine).
Important to any paleo diet, is consumption of organ meat. Before you imagine a failed musician eating his musical instrument, think liver, heart and tongue. It’s highly unlikely you will find these in a retail outlet, but you can easily pick these up at the butchers. Liver cooks quicker than the meat, while the tongue an heart take longer. And finally shank bones – a beef shop usually throws this in for free, while mutton/goat shops sell it for Rs. 200 a kilo. Absolutely essential to have these boiled into a rich gelatinous soup with bits of marrow floating around. Have a potful of this over the week, probably as a late evening beverage (a little salt and pepper for flavour of course). Interestingly enough, my butcher is as enthused by my more than obvious appreciation for meat that he’s taken it upon himself to teach me the various cuts. Last week i tried the – for want of a better word – ‘hump’ meat, marbled beautifully (see the featured image), this is a really fatty cut, but is rich and full of flavour.
In case why you’re wondering why i haven’t mentioned pork, it’s only because i believe that this meat deserves it’s own post for both positive and negative reasons