It took 10 months and a trip back to Texas for us to consider that maybe it’s time to reintroduce meat into our diet. This also probably comes from the fact that although we have a cook who comes twice a week, her vegetarian repertoire is quickly running short. It’s always yummy vegetable mush, with spices.
Let me start with why I am reluctant to eat meat here. First is a respect for their culture. Second is hygiene. Third is the way they process meat is different than in the US. Whenever we eat meat in a “normal” restaurant (i.e. not a five star hotel), we encounter tendons and little bones. Fourth and fifth: again, hygiene.
This is what a common butcher place looks like:
There are places that sell meat for expats and other rich people. They pride themselves on the fact that the meat is imported, hence, most probably frozen. To me, that’s a problem in itself. I do not like meat that has been frozen. I do not like “Omaha Steaks” back home. And freezing meat requires constant refrigeration, which requires quasi constant electricity, which in India requires working generators. There is no way of telling if a product has been thawed and re-frozen, and that scares me. This country has enough bacteria in the water, no need to add unfrozen bacteria to the lot!
But I gave in. And on Sunday, we went looking for meat.
We took the scooter to the first “good” meat shop. The young man there, without putting his phone down, asked us what we wanted. Lamb. He doesn’t’ understand. So, in my best lamb voice, I go “beehhheeehh“? They smile. Goat? No, mutton, baby mutton. The other man sitting in front of dead fish laying in ice cubes chimes in. Lamb we have. Minced lamb? No. And he proudly pulls out an unwrapped frozen leg of lamb out of a Styrofoam cooler, with his bare hands. Kheema pav lamb? No, sorry madam !
Of course we had to get lost on our way to the second “good” store. A nice little trip through the side streets south of Varthur road is always a pleasant ride, albeit uncomfortable because of the thousands of potholes.
We park in front of store number two, above the pet store, which has several generators in the front. With a huge painting of Jesus above the cash register, they advertise right away that they are Christian. Since there are no religious dietary restrictions, they can sell any meat. E. got his pound of fresh minced lamb. I lusted after a bag of frozen chicken nuggets, and, all happy, took them out of the refrigerated case, ready to buy them. Then my heart sank. I could feel that the nuggets were soft. Limp. Thawed. Who knows how many times they had been frozen and thawed, and frozen and thawed? So I put them back. And to make matters a bit worse, yet funny, the cashier gave me my change back in candy. Three miserable candies in lieu of three rupees, as is customary when they run out of coins! I gave her an amused, yet dirty look, and she smiled, half embarrassed, half cocky! I gave them to a little kid walking by with his parents, that made his day!
On Sunday night, we ate the famous kheema pav. I should say “fusion” kheema pav, since I decided to add elbow macaroni to the plate! And to quote my nieces, we cooked that lamb until it (and all potential bacterium) was dead!