Camel meat is acquired from domesticated camels located mainly in Arabia and the Horn of Africa. Camel meat is tender with a slightly nutty taste that resembles beef or mutton.
History of Consumption of Camel Meat
Camel meat was an integral part of Arabian cuisine. The animal was also extensively used by the ancient Greeks and the Persians for desert travel. Both cultures used to roast the animal whole and serve it as a gourmet dish during special state occasions. According to legend, the Roman emperor Heliogabalus used to ask for camel to be prepared as he preferred the camel heel for himself. In Arabia, Somalia, Egypt, Libya and Sudan, the animal was much revered for its multiple uses and it was only prepared as a meat dish for special occasions.
Culinary Uses of the Camel Meat
Each and every part of the camel was useful and a camel carcass could easily provide about 400-550 kg of meat. The meat could be dried as pastirma, simmered in a stew or roasted as a whole.
Popular Camel Meat Recipes
- Pastirma is a special highly seasoned variety of dried-meat. This dish has a Persian background. It is prepared by salting the meat and washing it with water. The meat is then allowed to dry for 10-15 days. The blood and salt is squeezed out and the meat is covered with a paste of cumin, garlic, fenugreek, and paprika before drying.
- Rice with cooked dried camel was very popular in Arabia. Dried camel meat was simmered with water, onions, tomatoes, spices, and herbs and served with rice.
- The 1961 edition of the famous French cookbook, The Larousse Gastronomique has several gourmet camel recipes listed in it. Camel’s feet vinaigrette is one such dish made by soaking meat from the feet of a young camel in water and then cooking it in a white court-bouillon till tender. Roast camel hump is also prepared by first marinating the meat in lemon juice, salt and pepper. The hump is then roasted like beef and served with its pan juices as gravy.
- Camel sausages are a useful way of using up the excess meat. The meat is cured and processed to make the sausages.
Preferable Methods of Cooking Camel Meat
Camel meat is tender and tastes like coarse beef with a sweet aftertaste. The cut of meat determines its cooking process. Older animals require a longer cooking time while younger meat can be roasted medium rare. The hump is considered a delicacy due to its high fat content. The hump is consumed raw while still warm but when it cools down, it has to be boiled or roasted for consumption. Preferred parts for cooking include the brisket, ribs and the loin.
Camel Meat Buying Tips
Camel meat is easily available in the Middle East and Africa where itis considered a delicacy. It is also exported from Sudan and Egypt to Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Europe. It is also occasionally found in Australia depending on availability.
Although camel meat is considered HALAL, a few Arabian sects require ritual cleansing or wudhu from diners who have consumed the meat before praying.