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Sajji, other Balochi delights getting popular

ISLAMABAD: Balochi traditional dishes are gaining popularity in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

A number of restaurants have opened up in the in and around the capital city and the garrison town to serve the culinary taste of foodies.

Cooked with minimum spices and oil and sometimes only with salt, the Balochi food is becoming a food-fad.

Balochi sajji is becoming an all-weather treat and popular food. Eateries serving delights from the province are attracting significant number of families especially on weekends to enjoy the desi cuisine.

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Khalid Lehri, a cook at Quetta Hotel in Karachi Company told that after Sajji, Rosh is a Balochi dish that attracts most visitors to their restaurants here.

“It is a big chunk of meat, cooked under pressure in animal fat for several hours with secret ingredients and spices; mostly salt and black pepper,” he informed.

Lamb is the staple meat of Baloch people, who cook its meat in its own fat, Lehri said.

Drawing his roots from Kallat and Sibbi, the Lehri tribesman said the local cuisine of Baloch people were simple and close to the nature.

A visitor Mohammad Mohsin at Sector G/11 eatery, Sadabahar Quetta Hotel, said that he often comes here to enjoy Khadi Kebab, a popular Balochi dish prepared with meat and cooked in fats.

Khaddi Kebab is a whole lamb, sheep or goat, cooked in a pit.

The pit is filled with wood which is allowed to burn for a couple of hours. The ambers are then taken out with a shovel and a marinated full lamb, fixed on a huge skewer rod, is lowered in the hot pit.

The pit is then covered with an iron sheet, allowing only a hole for air, it is sealed with mud. The ambers are then spread over the iron sheet.

The lamb cooks on slow, flameless heat inside the pit. The taste of khaddi, or pit, kebab is very different from any other barbeque, a cook explained.

The owner of New Quetta hotel at Rawalpindi, Sadiq Khan who has mastered preparing another popular dish Dum Pukht said it is a whole lamb roast in which the animal is stuffed with rice, dry fruits and spices.

Abu Zar an owner of a Quetta, traditional hotel at F-11 was offering lahndi, a rare traditional dish of Quetta.

Expensive and highly sought after by Baloch, Pashtun, and Afghan people living on the northern strip of Balochistan that borders both Afghanistan and Iran, lahndi has for centuries fed the people through harsh winters. However, urbanisation has made it a rare commodity.

Lahndi, also known as dried meat, is a winter food popular in Afghanistan and in Hazara Tribes, besides the Baloch and Pashtun people.

Consumption of lahndi is common during the winter months. Lahndi is usually prepared from lamb and sheep, although it can also be made from beef. First a lamb or sheep is slaughtered in the Islamic way. Then the wool is separated in a proper and skilled way, leaving only the skin. After that, the remaining hairs on the skin are burned away with fire, after which the meat is wiped to get rid of the carbon deposits. Then the meat is cut into smaller pieces and rubbed with salt to prevent bacteria. It is also rubbed with pungent-smelling asafoetida, which is a little like garlic and serves as a preservative, a much-needed additive in a part of the world where electricity and refrigerators are rare. Having been thus prepared, the meat is strung on lahndi poles (tall poles with crosspieces which stand outside most Afghan mud-houses and serve as winter larders).

The best time to prepare lahndi is December, when the meat dries out within 15 days if it is cold enough. After preserving seasoned meat for over five to six weeks, it gets dried and crispy.

Abu Zar said that unlike the people of dasht who eat lahndi as it is, dried and seasoned meat, the urbanites like to have it cooked. “Lahndi’s crispness is so unique, that people keep coming back to enjoy it again and again,” he said.

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A foodie from Quetta, Sami Khan, named a unique dish Sarai Karray told that a whole animal like goat and lamb’s extra fats and meat is chopped into small pieces and kept on low fire. “Only salt is added in the dish but its taste is indescribable” he added.

A visitor at Abu Zar’s restaurant, Mohammad Azmat, said he was highly appreciative of these Balochi dishes.

“Majority of the dishes are without spicy ingredients, light on digestion and give pure taste,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2018


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