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Chefs and restaurant managers are very hesitant to admit that they are actually using good old Indian goat meat in dishes on their menus. They dress the word goat up by calling it ‘mutton’, and to add an even more fancy touch, in some cases end up calling it lamb.
The term mutton is widely used to describe the meat from an older sheep whereas the term lamb is used for a sheep under the age of a year. This is the global practice.
The main issue, of course, is that Indian kitchens don’t use actual mutton they use goat. There is huge misconception that mutton and goat are one and the same thing and therefore it is ok to call goat meat mutton. The term mutton is never used in this context outside India.
Fine-dining menus will always have the word lamb instead of goat in the descriptors on their menus. For example, the famous Raan is referred to as ‘leg of lamb’ and seekh kabab is described as ‘minced lamb cooked on a skewer’ and of course burgers are never referred to as ‘goat burgers’.
Chefs and restaurateurs are, of course, well aware that they are selling a very different product. But Indian restaurants abroad do tell the truth as they use real lamb in their dishes as it is a more readily available meat there. This, however, does change the Indian flavour profile of their food as compared to the authentic Indian food made in India. Which is probably why some Indians do not like the food at Indian restaurants abroad.
Chefs in India prefer the use of goat as the original dishes were invented for this meat specifically. Most Indians actually prefer the flavour of goat as opposed to lamb. This is because lamb has more fat and that changes the way the dish smells.
Using goat has its benefits too as a pound of goat meat has two-third the calories of a pound of beef and half the saturated fat of chicken.
Even though the dishes passed down to us by our ancestors have been created around goat, why do chefs feel that they have to distort the truth? What is everyone so ashamed of?
Hotels and fine-dining establishments are so averse to calling the meat goat that even if they have the privilege of telling their guests that they have an expert chef or a Qureshi who is choosing the right part of a goat or the goat fat from the best breed of a certain age and under a certain weight, they will still choose to hide the truth.
One doesn’t call chicken ‘duck’ or prawns ‘lobster’, so what is the big deal with mutton and goats?
Another of those Indian menu mysteries, perhaps!