Patthar Ka Gosht: A culinary myth debunked

In this age of internet and our erroneous beliefs that anything online is gospel truth, we are often fed with misleading pieces of information that get entrenched in our mind. This is all the more glaring about different cuisines and their so-called origins.

A piece on the origins of Patthar Ka Gosht (https://361degreeshospitality.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/history-origin-of-patthar-ka-gosht/) states that Patthar Ka Gosht is a Hyderabadi preparation that came into being in 1884!

Sorry, I can’t buy it. Patthar Ka Gosht or slab-meat (meat roasted and prepared on a stone-slab) is culinary concept that is way older. Maoris (the natives of New Zealand) have been roasting lamb and fowl and relishing the meat since nearly two millenniums.

Having spent my formative years in Central Asia and Arab Peninsula, I daresay that this preparation is very old. Despite being a vegan, I don’t entertain silly reservations about non-vegetarianism.

Once I was having dinner with my dreamboat in an Iranian dehaat (Persian word for village). The server asked her whether she would like to try lamb-chunks flattened and fried on a heated stone-slab. Being game for all culinary innovations, she readily agreed.

What came next on the platter were lamb-fillets, well-roasted and marinated and singed on a stone-slab! I had already heard of Hyderabad’s Patthar Ka Gosht. I asked the server whether it was Hyderabadi stone-slab meat.

He replied that it was an Iranian mofussil (yet another Persian word for a village, now incorporated in seven Indian languages) dish, in existence for centuries!

That was a culinary revelation for me. He further enlightened me that stone-slabs cut from river-rocks were being used for this purpose for many centuries. River-rock slabs get heated very quickly and uniformly roast the flattened fillets.

Zoroastrian Iranians (Parsis of Iran) were preparing meat prior to CE. In fact, Parsis of Iran and Central Asia, introduced slab-meat to the world in its modern avatar. There are still a couple of Iranian restaurants in Calcutta, run by Parsis, that serve stone-slab-meat.

Their bawarchis (cooks in Persian) still follow their hoary-old trade-secret of centuries. Arab bedouins of Najaf and Kufa have been roasting the meat of baby camel on a stone-slab since time immemorial.

It wasn’t a primitive way to cook meat, but an innovation to enhance the taste of the singed or roasted meat because ancient Iranians, Zoroastrians and Arabs knew that meat roasted on a stone, emanates an aroma that’s hard to describe. Iranians call it Ittannaz and Arabs define it as Birazid.

The old Parsis (they spoke Persian when they came to Gujarat nearly a millennium ago, having been driven out of Persia by the marauding Muslims) still use the word Itnaaj for Patthar Ka Gosht.

So, Hyderabad or Telangana’s claim that it gave the world Patthar Ka Gosht doesn’t hold water. By the way, I’m told, the meat of a wild boar roasted on a stone-slab tastes divine. Culinary history needs to be re-written with a proper and unbiased research.