The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 1 , 2013

Emu lands on dinner table

- Move over chicken, exotic birds are now available in city meat shops

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 30: Non-vegetarians have reason to cheer with a range of exotic poultry meat surfacing in the city markets.

From the gawky Australian emu to the quintessential Thanksgiving turkey, delectable birds are flocking to dinner tables in the state and their demand seems to be soaring.

“We introduced emu meat about three months ago and it has caught the fancy of non-vegetarians here,” said Manoj Sahoo of Manoj Meat Centre at Patia, who is said to have started the emu meat business in the city by procuring the birds from a farm in Ganjam district.

Priced at Rs 400 a kg, emu meat is a favourite among select hotels and an increasing number of general customers. Apart from its taste, the six-feet birds weighing around 45 to 50kg, also have a nutritional value. The low-calorie and high-protein meat make it a popular choice for the young and health-conscious. Among the middle aged and the elders, the meat sells for its low cholesterol and sodium levels. Manoj sells at least one emu a week at his outlet.

“People who have tasted it elsewhere, came looking for it. So we decided to start selling emu meat. After it entered the Bhubaneswar market, many people purchased it on an experimental basis and liked it. They have now become our regular customers,” said Sahoo, adding that the best thing about emu meat is that it stayed fresh for about a week.

“It tastes similar to mutton, but takes less time to cook,” said Pitabash Tripathy, who has tasted the meat.

Businessman Bobby Mahapatra said: “My friends and I decided to try the new meat during a feast. We loved the taste and now we buy it almost every alternate week. Many people I have hosted at home also loved it.”

Emu meat is roasted, made into kebabs and also cooked in curry style with Indian spices.

“It’s a low-fat red meat and gets marinated easily. It becomes very tender when cooked. Although it goes well with local spices, one can also experiment it with different sauces to bring about a Chinese flavour,” said Abdul Ansari, chef at a local hotel.

Apart from the meat, there is also a huge demand for emu eggs. Though an emu egg is sold for anything between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200, it is known to cure arthritis, muscle and joint pains.

Meat sellers are also selling Japanese quail (locally known as gunduri) and turkeys. “While quail is in demand round the year, turkeys sell the most in winter,” said Sujay, owner of a meat centre in the city. While quails are procured from Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO), which breeds the bird in the city, the turkey is brought from Kerala.

The guineafowl, also supplied by the CPDO, is also emerging as an appetising option for gastronomes. Guineafowl and turkey cost Rs 300 a kg, while the quail is priced at Rs 400 a kg.

“Our prices are lower than what they are in other parts of the country. We have intentionally kept the rates low to make such meat more popular,” said Sujay.

For tourists visiting the Nandankanan zoo, nearby hotels that serve various kinds of bird meat are attracting a large number of non-vegetarians. “Tourists, especially foreigners, keep asking if we have any special meat on our menu and the sale of a variety of bird meat in the city has made things easier for us. Earlier we used to procure exotic bird meat from Calcutta and elsewhere. Our customers demand a variety of preparations and the feedback is quite encouraging,” said Pratap, who works in Jungle-View hotel.