Brain Games…… King Offal
Sounds like a thriller but a thriller it is. North Indian Hindus do not eat offal; yes we are truly in some parts becoming a Republic of chicken. However, Offal eating can range from gourmet cuisine ( pate de foie gras , for the poor (who cannot afford top end cuts). Offal has an origin in the German language abfall or abval. A general snapshot of India its neighbors:
In India and Pakistan, the goat's brain (maghaz), feet (paey), head (siri), stomach (ojhari or but), tongue (zabaan), liver (kalayji), kidney (gurda), udder (kheeri) and testicles (kapooray) as well as chickens' heart and liver are enjoyed. One popular dish, Kata-Kat, is a combination of spices, brains, liver, kidneys and other organs. Beef offal is relished with the above mentioned parts regularly used in food, especially fried delicacies. In the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, lamb and goat brain sautéed and stir fried with spices (often called bheja fry) is a delicacy. In the southern Indian city of Mangalore, a spicy dish called rakti, made of heavily spiced porcine offal and cartilaginous tissue, is considered a homely indulgence.
In Bangladesh, a bull's or goat's brain (mogoj), feet (paya), head (matha), stomach skin (bhuri), tongue (jib-ba), liver (kolija), kidney and heart are delicacies. Chickens' heart, gizzard (gi-la) and liver are also enjoyed.
In Nepal, a goat's brain (gidi), feet (khutta), head (tauko), stomach skin (bhudri), tongue (jibro), liver (kalejo), kidney, lungs (phokso), fried intestines (aandra), fried solidified blood (ragati) and to a lesser extent testicles are considered delicacies and are in very high demand in Dashain when families congregate and enjoy them with whiskey and beer. Chickens' heart and liver are also enjoyed but it is chickens' gizzards that are truly prized.
Every meat eating Nations have their offal eating traditions both at the grass root and gourmet level. Anthony Bourdain has a large body of work chasing Offal eating in various cultures apart from his original French culture….. Haggis in Scotland , Head Cheese in various parts of Europe, Kidney Pie and black pudding in England, chopped liver with the Jewish community
I have eaten liver on toast, liver masala with drinks, keema kaleji as main course as well as a snack at the JCOs mess in the army, liver for breakfast in the Military Academy.
Kidneys as a part of Taka tak in Pakistan, sometimes as a curry, never my favorite. Kapoorey no no even when they are offered. Tried Kheeri or udders at Ramazan at Mohammad Ali road. Love the Kharodas (trotters) as child in Karnal and Spicy Paya Curry as a grown up with all the gelatinous cartilage.
This post, however is about none other than the king of them all, Brain……. I love, I dream about it have eaten it as a cutlet, a pakora, bheja fry, brain curry ( at Salim, Karims, Minar, Khalsa Dhaba In Delhi, Nachiyar, Imperial, Empire, Ponuswamy in Bangalore, brain chilly, brain bhurji at several other joints.
Last Sunday had to eat it back from the gym stopped at Sanjha Chullah, no don’t have it on the menu. Next stop Salim at Kailash Colony (I was initiated here about two decades ago) a no. Next stop my preferred butcher Greater Kailash 2, …. Don’t have it. Karims an Industrial outlet and takeaway at GK2 had curry priced at Rs 240 for one piece …. Too high, and I do not respect other than the one at Jama Masjid or perhaps at Nizaamuddin. Next, Qureshi another butcher shop that turns into open air barbecue in the evening finally advised go to Ahaar at Alaknanda market and you will get it ( by the way checked on the telephone at Green Chick on the phone a negative) After five negatives and one circumspect. I had to do it.
Now at Ahaar the owner politely send there were 12 in the morning and somebody picked them all up. I was now figuring out somebody is picking a whole lot of brains in South Delhi. I was now obsessed, had to have it and have it my way. Ankur the owner said I will home deliver them as soon as they arrive. I said okay and waited like the allies waited before the Normandy landing.
Arrived two smart brains costing a mere Rs40 each and got going with a pan- chopped onions-blanched tomatoes-onion garlic paste- juliennes of ginger and green chilli voila with the smartest pan cooked brain fry. Suddenly Sunita the Nepali maid threw a scare in the Siliguri Darjeeling hills anyone with parents alive does not eat this and she refused to eat though helped me cook it. I thought deeply and said I am sharing it with my parents and let it pass as folklore and indulged anyway. Magnificent dish even if I were to say so myself. Shared it with my colleagues Krish, Amitava and Suchana incidentally all Bengalis and pretty much hard core meat eaters and my partners in crime in some of the escapades.
Moral of the story, Offal’s are good they are gourmet as well as nourishment for protein starved nation one man’s meat is another man’s poison does and does not hold good always. Cheers