Dried salted mutton ‘Landi’: A special cuisine in freezing cold

Rafiullah Mandokhail

ZHOB: The centuries-old tradition of ‘Landi’ is still alive not only in rural but also in urban Pashtoon dominated areas of Balochistan. Landi has now gained popularity in other parts of the province. The special salted mutton is called ‘Landi’, also known as ‘Parsanda’. It is liked to provide warmth, strength and comfort during the entire chilly winter season.

Landi is actually dried mutton – the only favorite cuisine in chilly days of winter in highly mountainous areas including the historic district Zhob that shares borders with Afghanistan and tribal region. The tradition of Landi emerged when the residents of remote and cut-off hilly areas needed fresh meat and their areas were disconnected with cities due to heavy snowfall and it was difficult to approach the bazaars and get fresh food items including meat and vegetables. Slaughtering a sheep or lamb is common but a cow is quite rarely slaughtered. The selected animal is especially fattened for the purpose. Grazing in the grass besides additional amount of grains, wheat and wild olive are also provided.

Usually, after slaughtering the animal, the family members including children and women start plucking the hair from the lamb skin, so that all hair is completely removed. Sometimes the hair is removed with scissor before slaughtering. The viscera is removed from its abdomen and then sewn. An open fire using bushes of twigs is now ready. The carcass is then singed by flame of bushes and cattail locally known as ‘Lukhay’. After the singeing the skin often becomes a crispy layer on top of it. Then it is washed outside and inside to remove the blood, dirt, ashes etc. The bones of the carcass are removed in a very artistic way that the meat remains in the carcass. The carcass is cut in pieces, salted and pierced by a wooden stick or rope and hang on wooden bars to dry in the mid of the yard that is shady, airy and dry place. The pieces are hanged and exposed to the air. It is also rubbed with pungent-smelling asafetida, which is a little like garlic and serves as a preservative, a much-needed additive in those areas where electricity and refrigerators are unavailable. It often takes about a month for the meat strips to dry throughout, but some people start eating the meat before it is fully dried. It is normally eaten when it is extremely cold. The dried pieces are taken out for cooking according to the need and offered to the family members and guests. It is served as special winter dish.

The cooking method or recipe is very simple. The meet is boiled in hot water for a while to wash the additional salts used for preservation. Later on it is cooked in a muddy cooker locally known ‘Kataw’ or pressure cooker. The meat is boiled in water and some herbs and spices are also added. The soap of Landi meat is prepared from boiling and it is used to soak the bread pieces. The Landi meat is also prepared with rice.