Hunting for 'batair' in the garrison city

Hunting for 'batair' in the garrison city

Once an exclusive meal, batair is now served at many streetside eateries in Rawalpindi
26 Oct, 2015

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.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2015


SKZ Oct 26, 2015 12:23pm
Batair or Quail Farming in now common. Meat for Most of the Batair Dishes served at Restaurants and frozen meat sold at Superstores comes from these Farms.
Usman Ahmed Oct 26, 2015 12:24pm
Quails sold at local eateries in Rawalpindi are terribly small in size, and deep fried in over-used cooking oil, which resembles more like used motor oil than cooking oil. Wild quails are larger in size and much more delicious than the farmed quails that are being sold. There is nothing attractive about unhygienic food.
ed Oct 26, 2015 12:30pm
one little correction though. Hate to burst the bubble for a few but the batairs being served by their dozens in restaurants are not "game" game - there are farms rearing them now.
Avijit Roy Oct 26, 2015 12:47pm
If it is a wildlife, stop hunting.
AYK Oct 26, 2015 01:27pm
A very nice article....As a hunter I would like to make a small rectification....Batairs served in restaurants mainly come from specialized batair farms....they are quiet different in taste from wild ones...Wild batairs are more juicy and more tastier and you can hardly find them in restaurants.... Batair is a migratory bird. Its hunting is seasonal hence supply of wild batairs all year long is not possible...
Badar Oct 26, 2015 03:41pm
Wonderful write up but I think the writer really does not know about huge battair farming in Pakistan. Punjab govt supported it in the last decade. Now there are many farms
Rao Oct 26, 2015 08:51pm
@ Usman ... Wild quails are smaller in size than farmy quails and tastes absolutely wonderful rather better than partidge and see see.
Omer Kayani Oct 26, 2015 10:43pm
If fried properly it is indeed crisp and juicy whether it is wild or farmed,all that matters is skill of the chef.
Insanely Atheist Oct 26, 2015 10:54pm
Spare the sparrows.Is there anything which non vegetarians don't eat?
kAptslim Oct 27, 2015 05:07am
I belong to Rawalpindi and never tasted this delicacy. After reading this article, which suggests that quail or batair is a must try thing, I will definitely try this dish next time. However one thing is very evident from the pictures as well that is that such shops care least about the hygiene. It wont be surprising if you end up with food poisoning / diarrhea after eating from these roadside stalls.
Billo_Pardesan Oct 29, 2015 08:36pm
Farmed Batairs Do Not Taste Good.