Goat meat isn’t something most people use to cook with. Last month when I was on Fire Island and planning the things I wanted to cook I came up with the idea of making a goat curry inspired by a restaurant in Little India called Dhaba that makes amazing goat curry; so I thought I’d try my hand at it. Of course the first thing I pondered was: Where do I get goat meat? At first it seemed like a real conundrum, certainly Whole Foods doesn’t carry it…or does it? As it turned out my search for Goat meat was surprisingly easy – Luis Meats at the Essex Street Market had it. Then my friend Michael told me that his grocery store in Harlem carried it.
The thing about Goat Meat is that it is never factory raised. Mail goats are needed only briefly on the farm and then they become an expense (see the video I posted of Ann Saxelby talking about it) so it is a farm raised animal that isn’t shot full of drugs or feed GMO corn. Depending on where you buy it the prices can vary from $4-15 a pound. This depends on the cut of meat you buy but also where you get it from, smaller producers like the ones at the market have to charge more because the Federal government has unfairly mandated that all animals be slaughtered in a large government facilities that favor large corporate factory farms. So if you only have 20 goats to slaughter it cost way more then if you have 3000.
It was overwhelming to see how almost all of the goat cheese stands at the market also sold meat. It was one of those things that was always there in front of my nose, but because I wasn’t looking never noticed it.
So the next time you are at your local goat cheese farm stand think about buying a few pounds of goat meat. It’s delicious, not gamey, and like any stewing meat: a little goes a long way.
Here is my version of a traditional Bengali Goat Curry – sure to warm you up in the chilly autumn nights ahead.
Bengali Goat Curry
In a large stew pot over medium heat add: 1/3 cup of sunflower oil or organic peanut oil (any non flavorful oil is fine, if you wanted to be very traditional use Ghee), when it is hot, but not smoking, add 2-3 pounds of chunked up Goat Stewing Meat (preferably with bone in) and brown on both sides remove – when nicely seared remove the meat to a plate and reserve.
In the oil that you just browned the meat in add: 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Cumin Seeds and cook for 30 seconds, they should start to, ever so slightly, brown. Stir in 2 roughly chopped large onions, stir and cover for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent but not browned, remove lid and add 1 whole head of Garlic (7-10 cloves) finely chopped. Cook for several minutes until the garlic and onions start to become golden. Add 2 Tablespoons of grated Fresh Ginger, stir and let cook for a few minutes then add: 2 Tablespoons ground Cumin, 1/2 Tablespoon of ground Coriander, 1 teaspoon Turmeric, 2 Tablespoons salt** and 1 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper. In a piece of cheesecloth wrap up 15 Whole Cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks toss them into pot and cook over medium until until the oil starts to separate from the spice and aromatic mixture – 10 minutes or so. Add more oil if things start to get sticky or dry.
Add 4-6 large tomatoes roughly chopped to the spice mixture, cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have started to soften then stir in 1 cup Water and 1 Cup full fat Yogurt (you could substitute coconut milk if you want to avoid dairy). Bring to a simmer then add the browned goat meat, lower the heat and cook for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender and falls apart when you poke it with a fork. Add more water at any point if you think the curry needs thinning. 45 minutes before the curry is fully cooked chop up 4 large potatoes, toss them in a Tablespoon of oil and place them in a 400 F oven, cook them until crunchy and well browned. Give a stir every 15 minutes and make sure they aren’t too crowded on the baking sheet.
Traditionally these would be stirred into the curry just before serving I like to sprinkle them on top like croutons along with a generous handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
Don’t forget to remove the cheesecloth with the cloves and cinnamon! As the curry cooks taste it often, feel free to remove them at any point you feel their sweetness has permeated the curry enough.
Serve with Basmati rice, raita and chutney!