Eating in entireties
Which cow parts are eatable besides the liver?
"Everything is edible but the gall bladder. And probably the fur."
Offal, as internal organs of an herbivore are called, is not for the faint-hearted. It's an acquired taste that seasons with time and is hardly ever a first love!
Throughout Bangladesh, and across the globe, nothing bovine is left to waste. From the tender meat of the head to the delicious, bony tail; everything can be cooked -- only if you know how -- and tasted.
There was a time when internal organs of the cow were cheap and were primarily consumed by the less-affluent people of society. Times have now changed, and they are now gourmet, served in many households as a delicacy and sometimes, a staple.
A few organs, the liver for instance, bears considerable nutritional value. However, by far offal are the biggest cholesterol bombs known in the culinary world.
Come Qurbani, every year, I eagerly anticipate the coming of Eid-ul-Adha, not only because of its religious importance but also for the culinary delights associated with this blessed event. And I must say, I dare to venture where few foodies have not gone before!
Teaming with Shahana Huda, an ardent foodie herself, we share some of the most well- loved offal recipes throughout the globe, some deshi to the core while others from far away lands.
2 cow brains or 4 goat brains
4 medium onions (peeled and finely chopped)
4 green chillies (chopped)
½ tbsp red chilli powder
1½ tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp of garam masala
Salt (to taste)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
½ cup plain yoghurt
1 cup cooking oil
For the garnish:
1 small piece of ginger (finely chopped lengthways)
A bunch of fresh coriander(chopped)
Wash the brain thoroughly and boil in water. After boiling, remove the brain from the water and discard any membrane and nerves carefully. Cut brain into small pieces.
Heat cooking oil in a pot or karai and fry the sliced onion until they are golden brown. Remove half of the onions and set aside. To the onion in the pan, add the spices, ginger paste, garlic paste, plain yoghurt, green chillies and salt. Fry well for about 10 minutes by adding a little water if needed.
Add the brain and holding the pan by the handles, gently shake the pan to mix. Do not stir with a spoon. When the oil separates, sprinkle with chopped coriander, lemon juice, finely chopped ginger and the remaining brown onion.
Ox tongue in mushroom sauce
This is a Filipino recipe.
1 ox tongue (about 1.1 kilos)
2 tbsp vinegar
1 whole garlic
1 whole onion
1 can condensed mushroom soup
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. of butter
1 onion, chopped
½ kg of potatoes
½ c. of milk
Salt and pepper
1 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 onion, sliced
4 button mushrooms, chopped
Scrape the ox tongue with a knife. Rinse well under running water.
Place in a glass bowl and cover with water. Add 2 tbsp of vinegar. With your hands, “wash” the tongue in the water-vinegar solution. Rinse well.
Place the ox tongue in a casserole and cover with water. Pierce garlic in several places with a sharp pointed knife. Add garlic, onion, carrot, leeks, peppercorns to the tongue.
Set over medium heat and bring to a soft boil, removing scum as it rises. Lower heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 4 hours.
While simmering the meat, prepare the mashed potatoes. Using a brush, scrub the potatoes under the tap, making sure that no soil remains.
Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 tsp of salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil.
Lower heat, cover and simmer until tender. To test to see whether it is done, insert a pointed knife at the thickest part of the potatoes.
Drain the potatoes and transfer to a glass bowl. Cut the potatoes into small pieces. Mash with a fork (I did not remove the skin). Add 2 tbsp of butter and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in ½ c. of milk in a thin stream.
Blend well. Stir in the chopped parsley. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap.
When the tongue is tender, transfer it to a plate and cool completely. Remove the skin and slice crosswise into ¼ thick slices. Set aside. Strain the broth.
Over medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a skillet. Brown the chopped onion. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Increase heat to high and melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Add the sliced lengua and brown them in batches, removing them as they brown and adding more butter if necessary.
Saute the sliced onion in the skillet. Add the chopped mushrooms. Dilute the mushroom soup with the meat broth. Use equal parts of soup and broth for a regular sauce; reduce the amount of broth by half for a thicker sauce.
Pour diluted soup into the skillet. Lower heat to medium and bring to a soft boil, stirring to make sure that no lumps remain.
Return the tongue slices to the skillet and heat through.
Arrange the tongue nicely on a plate, put a scoop of mashed potatoes witht the sauce on top. Serve hot!
*Mashed potato is optional, steamed rice or steamed vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) are also best served with lengua.
Cow heel soup
This is known as a replenishing soup in the Caribbean, much the way chicken noodle soup is in America.
1 cow-heel (leg of cow from hoof to knee)
3 parts water
1 strip celery
1lb mixed vegetables
1 tbsp sago, or barley
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp salt
Piece of hot red pepper
Scald, scrape, and thoroughly clean cow-heel. Cut it up and put to boil in salted water. Skim water and add chopped seasonings. Simmer gently for 6 to 7 hours, or to save fuel and time, use a pressure cooker. Peel, wash and dice vegetables. Remove meat from bone, cut into neat pieces, and return to soup with prepared vegetables and sago. Boil soup again until vegetables are soft, for about 30 minutes. Add parsley, a few drops of lime juice, and grated nutmeg just before serving.
Steak and kidney pie recipe
Pastry for 1-crust pie
1 beef kidney
2 lbs. round steak, cubed
2 tablespoons oil, drippings, or shortening
2 cups chopped onions
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
4 cups diced raw potatoes
6 tbsp flour
Marinate beef kidney with lightly salted water, cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain; cut out tubes and white membrane with scissors. Dice meat.
Brown kidney and steak in hot fat. Add onions, seasoning, and 1½ cup water. Simmer until meat is almost tender, about 1 hour.
Blend together flour and remaining ½ cup water; stir into meat mixture. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture thickens. Pour into 3 qt. casserole.
Roll out pastry slightly larger than top of casserole. Place over meat mixture and trim to overhang 1". Fold under and flute against inside edge of casserole. Cut several steam vents in centre.
Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Note: You can use the milder-flavoured veal or lamb kidney instead of the beef, if available. You can skip the soaking.
½ kg tilli (spleen)
1 large garlic
½ cup chopped onions
Cut spleen into small pieces. Wash carefully. Put in a skewer and grill in flame. (If you prefer, the tilli can also be boiled). Once done, mix tilli, garlic, green chillies, cilantro, mint leaves and make a paste using a food processor.
Mix mustard oil and chopped onions to make the bhorta.
Khiri (udder) kebab
Khiri is marinated in a mixture of spices and lime juice overnight. Marinated khiri is threaded over skewers and cooked over charcoal. Normally you would use flesh from green papaya as a tenderiser.
1 pound khiri
1"x1"ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp meat tenderiser
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
3 limes, juiced
½ tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mix all ingredients for marinade in a glass bowl. Whisk well. Cut khiri in to 1½" pieces. Fork each piece about two times. Add khiri to marinade. Stir to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic film. Marinate overnight (about 12 hours) in the refrigerator.
You may either grill or bake kebabs.
Thread Khiri on skewer. Baste with oil. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes in a charcoal or gas grill. Khiri should be slightly under-done (medium) and not cooked well.
Pre-heat oven to 550º F. Line a baking pan with Aluminum foil. Arrange khiri in a single layer, baste with oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Don't turn off the oven. Let the kebab stay at room temperature for 5 minutes. Turn kebab over. Baste with oil. Return to the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes till done.
2 pairs sweetbreads
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper
Bread or cracker crumbs
Prepare as directed and cut in even-sized slices.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dip in beaten egg and crumbs and fry in deep fat.
When well browned on both sides, place them on a platter.
Make a sauce with two tablespoons of the fat in which the sweetbreads were fried, the flour and milk and season with salt and pepper.
Fried sweetbreads are often served with green peas, placed in a mound or a little hill on the centre of the platter.
Macaroni may be boiled very tender and laid on the platter and the sweetbreads placed in the centre, the pipes of the macaroni being laid about them in the form of a nest.
(Oxtail soup Malay style)
1 kg oxtail (chopped into large pieces)
Half a head of garlic
6 cloves stuck in 1 onion
2 lemongrass stalks (bashed and sliced)
1 thick slice of ginger (sliced)
4-5 green cardamoms
1 cinnamon bark
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp white peppercorns
3 potatoes (cubed largely)
4 parrots (sliced into large chunks)
2 celery stalks (sliced into 3s)
Half a fennel bulb
4-5 plum tomatoes (halved)
1.5 litres of hot water
3 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, fry the ginger, lemongrass, garlic, oxtail, whole and ground spices in a little oil till fragrant. Another way could also be to grind the garlic, onion, lemongrass and ginger into a paste first before frying it.
Add the potatoes, carrots, fennel and celery into the pot.
Pour in the hot water. Cover.
When the water has come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for an hour.
Add the fresh tomatoes followed by the tomato paste. Then salt to taste. Cover and simmer for another hour or till the meat is melt-in-the-mouth.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, chillies and fried shallots and serve hot with baguette.
By Mannan Mashur Zarif