Offal Dishes Of India – Delightful Delicacies For Meat Lovers
Image Credit: Boti in Mysore

For the sake of sustainability and taste, offal meats are used worldwide to create delicious dishes. Each of our regional cuisines in India has a vast repertoire of offal dishes, cooked using various cooking methods and delicious Indian herbs and spices.

Wherever I travel in India, it’s not just the prime cuts of meat that impress me but also the unique Indian cooking methods that give shape to offal dishes, which in many cases, are considered delicacies worth gorging over.

A hardcore Punjabi meat eater would vouch for the recipe of a mixed offal dish cooked on a tawa in a semi-dry spicy gravy, elevating the flavour of ‘Gurde – Kapoore - Kaleji - Bheja’ to another level altogether. Or the taste of the winter delicacy ‘Kharode’ soup, or Paya soup, my father never missed enjoying it to the fullest, with extra servings of the soup to cope with the harsh Delhi winters.

‘Bheja fry’, the squishy brain of goat, cooked well scrambled on a tawa with green chillies and a pinch of pepper, is a delicacy a true lover of offal can appreciate and enjoy with crisp tandoori rotis. Punjabi neighbourhoods of West Delhi are an ideal place for you to try out the best flavours of offal dishes cooked on Tawa. The rustic-looking carts, often placed near a wine shop, serve to a large number of people asking for the delicious ‘Gurde – Kapoore Taka Tak’, a name derived from the voice of a ladle beating on the griddle, an essential style to prepare diced offal at such carts or food joints. ‘Khalsa’ (Street Cart) in Punjabi Bagh, or various shops in Jail road and the Rajouri garden area of Delhi, are the places which come to mind as soon as the mention of Offal dishes.

For a delicious ‘Liver Dana Kaleji’ cooked in goat fat, visit Khalsa Parivaar restaurant in Mayapuri, New Delhi. It will not only make you experience this delightful preparation but also the Punjabi obsession with Offal. The trick of cooking offal is to consider it a prized delicacy, not an inferior piece of meat. The different styles of cooking, the fat, and the gravy will make it a dish worth enjoying.

In the royal city of Lucknow, ‘Bheja fry’ at Alamgir hotel is a must-try. The texture of the goat brain suits the delicate use of flavourful spices lucknawi cuisine is known for. Try it with the luscious ‘Mughalia paratha’ to enjoy its delicate taste and exquisite texture. Hyderabad, another city which competes head-to-head for the coveted title of the royal culinary town of India, Bheja reigns supreme over the heart of food lovers. Nayab Hotel is where one must try the ‘Kalimirch bheja fry’, arguably the best bheja dish I have tried across India.

The story of the Famous Paya soups of these two cities (Hyderabad and Lucknow) is not hidden from anyone; however, in Mysore, you must try the ‘Kaal Soup’ (Trotter soups) at various messes dotted across the city.  If you are in Bangalore, try the ‘Kaal Soup’ at Shivaji military hotel. If you are offered ‘Boti’ in any of Mysore’s mess, then be ready to treat your taste buds with the ‘lamb intestine dish’. Trust South Indian masalas to lend this rare preparation a delectable flavour.  The liver is an equally worthy dish to try. Hanumanthu Hotel, Tegu Mess, Ruchi Mess in Mysore, or the various military hotels in Bangalore are your ideal places to try out the offal dishes of Karnataka. In Mangalore, one can try the ‘Pork Raghti’ or ‘Kaliz Ankiti’, offal delicacies from India’s rich culinary coastal town.

‘Pork Sorpotel’, a legendary dish in Goan and Mangalorean cuisine, uses Pork meat and liver (and often other pork innards). Cooked with generous use of spices and vinegar, this hot and sour pork preparation has its lovers worldwide. You can find ‘Ox Tongue’ being cooked in Parsi cuisine for a dish called ‘Masoor Ma Geeb’. However, their love for offal is also well represented by ‘Aleti Paleti’. This mixed goat offal preparation often finds its place in Parsi wedding spreads, using all the offal from the goats used for other critical dishes on the menu.

North East India, with many unexplored tribal cuisines, is a treasure trove of non-vegetarian dishes. Offal meats are used to create delicious dishes and aid sustainability. Meghalayan Pork and Rice dish ‘Jadoh’ uses pork blood for cooking. Pork is the preferred meat across North East Indian States like Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya etc. Thus, you will find Pork offal (Intestine, Liver etc.) used to create various dishes. 

Offal meats are highly nutritious and, if cooked well, make delicious and inexpensive dishes (compared to prime cuts). Across the world, offal meats are used to create classic dishes like ‘Foie gras’ (Fattened good liver) or ‘Haggis’ (Savoury Pie made of Offal); however, In India, a country known for the usage of flavourful spices, offal dishes are cooked with a great penchant, inspiring the world to give offal a more respectable space on the culinary map. With chefs in India and worldwide looking for newer cooking styles, offal has certainly caught up on their imagination and increasingly found space on the delicious menus of the top restaurants in the country. 

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant.