RAWALPINDI: Batair or quail may be the favoured game for seasoned hunters, but its meat has become very popular among urbanised residents of the garrison city.
In the past, it was mostly hunters who brought back quail from their excursions into the wild. Indeed, for a long time, quail remained a very exclusive meal. But now, everyone can experience the taste of gamey quail meat within the confines of the city.
Fateh Jang, Pindi Gheb, Sohawa, Jhelum, Dina and Pind Dadan Khan are known for being favoured haunts for hunters.
A visit to Raja Bazaar, College Road or Bhabara Bazaar yields many small stallholders selling fried and roosted quail. Quail meat is even available at selected shops in Dingi Khoi, Raja Bazaar and Dhoke Hassu.
The crispy and golden meat is sure to attract customers. Though the recipe for fried quail is quite similar to the way chicken is fried, quail meat is tougher and it takes longer for it to marinate.
At most food outlets, roasted or fried batairs are served with mint chutney, salad and nan. However, many prefer their batair without bread.
“We have used the same spices and recipe for the quail as we do for chicken, but quail meat takes more time to cook,” says Mohammad Raffique, the owner of a restaurant that serves quail meat on College Road.
He told Dawn that he opened the shop a decade ago after noticing how popular the dish was among locals. “Earlier, we would also prepare roasted chiray (sparrow), but those are only served between the months of December to April,” he said.
Kareem Bux, a shopkeeper from Bhabara Bazaar, said that he came here from Gujranwala five years ago and started his food stall, selling for batair, chiray and fish in the winters.
He said that batair and chiray meat was available in the local market and he prepared the dish with traditional spices.
“I usually come to have batair meat for a change of taste after eating chicken for too long. I used to go to the Soan River for hunting with my friends, but now office engagements keep us very busy and its not possible for me to spend so much time outdoors. This is the next best thing,” said Bilal Zafar, a resident of Defence Housing Authority (DHA).
He said batair meat was better than the chicken and more nutritious, as it was not reared at a poultry farm, but grew naturally. He preferred his batair roasted on coal, rather than fried.
Hamza Qureshi, a resident of Chaklala Scheme-III, said that he was fond of new things and always preferred to eat quail from shops in the downtown area. “Quail meat is better for health and most people believe that it can cure palsy,” he said.