WORLD LARGEST DISH (MIDDLE EAST)
Some people believe it to be just a myth, but the Guinness Book of Records has the “stuffed whole camel” listed as the largest single food item on any menu, and there are even a few photos of Bedouins feasting on it doing the rounds on the internet.
The official name of this traditional Bedouin dish is unknown, but most people refer to it as a “camel Turducken”. According to most sources it’s sometimes prepared at wedding feasts and special parties in Arab countries like Saudi Arabia. Basically, they get a full-grown camel, take out the insides and stuff it with a few sheep or lambs which are in turn stuffed with about 20 chickens and full of fishes. This calorie atomic bomb has to be boiled then cooked over a pit of burning charcoal until the camel meat is brown and crispy.
I can’t imagine what the pot that can hold a whole camel looks like, but apparently the entire cooking process takes about 24 hours. However, the time period might differ and can take up to more than 24 hours. It needs to be slowly cooked as this meal consist of many meats so that all the meats can be tender. The camel is then served on a silver platter and the wedding guests attack it with knives or their bare hands, leaving only the clean bones.
According to myth-busting website, Snopes, a recipe for stuffed camel actually appears in a cook book called International Cuisine, where it’s listed as a Saudi-Arabian dish. It has all the necessary ingredients and cooking instructions, if you’re looking for a dish that serves between 80 and 100 people. The site also references the introduction of Richard Sterling’s book, The Fearless Diner, where he tells of his meeting with Sven Krause, executive chef at a high-class Bangkok restaurant, who actually cooked a camel Turducken for a sheik’s wedding banquet, while working in Saudi Arabia. He described the process in detail, down to how the wedding guests descended upon the meaty treat and ate the whole thing.
One of the most popular variations of this dish is in the cookbook ‘International Cuisine’, 1983. This particular version of the recipe says you first skin, trim and clean a medium-sized camel, lamb, and chickens and boil them until tender. Precook the stuffing: peel hard boiled eggs, cook fluffy rice and mix it with fried nuts. This stuffing goes into chickens which together with more rice go into a lamb. Finally, the whole camel should be stuffed with the stuffed lamb and even more rice, wrapped in palm leaves and broiled until brown over large charcoal pit 3 feet in depth and served with rice. I’m still figuring how would they fit a whole camel into a pot, perhaps all the big pots were invented by the Arabs in conjunction to this dish. It is to be said that this humongous dish can feed as many as 80 people. However, if this dish were to served for Malaysians it could feed as many as 200 people approximately as we Asians are not as heavy eater as the Arabs.
- Camel meat has been eaten for centuries. A whole roasted camel was recorded by ancient Greek writers as a dish in ancient Persia at banquets. Camel milk is rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins with less fat and cholesterol than cow milk. Also, camel’s blood is sometimes consumed as a source of iron, vitamin D, salts and minerals.
- One of the most popular stuffed recipes in North America is Turducken – a boneless turkey stuffed with a boneless duck that’s stuffed with a boneless chicken; the gaps in between are filled with cornbread, oyster and sausage. The dish is an American invention by the southern chef Paul Prudhommes.
- Among the most bizarre dishes in the world is a balut which is a 15-16 day fertilized duck or chicken egg with an embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. This item is also known as ‘the treat with feet’ and commonly sold as a street food in the Philippines.
- If you’ve ever thought “real” Chinese food was disturbing, perhaps it is because, classically, Chinese chefs had the mantra: ‘Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies with its back to heaven, is edible’.