Goat of The Month February 2020 The Pakistani Markhor

 

This week/month’s goat is not domestic.  I decided to include it because of some extremely encouraging conservation trends in a portion of the world that gets little credit when these sorts of efforts bear fruit. The Markhor goat, Pakistan’s national animal were once ridiculously abundant. Then came the war in Afghanistan. Not only were there goat casualties from spill over artillery fire in the war – which began in 1979 and lasted for a decade – but the inevitable influx of guns and ammunition lead which inevitably lead to increased Markhor hunting and poaching.

So, not surprisingly, by 1984, only 1,600 Markhor remained throughout their Himalayan range, where once there were thousands. Post war, a joint initiative by the USFWS and local groups like the Torghar Conservation Project, sought to restore the Markhor to nearly historic numbers in Torghar Mountains and other areas. And it worked. But the war was not the only pressure on these goats.  Poaching by some locals and many non-local border guards took an enormous toll.

Now, poaching has all but vanished, following the hiring of nearly 100 Pakistani rangers and some clever, if controversial, management decisions.

The wild Markhor population remains relatively stable at around 10,000 individuals spread over several ranges.  Not great, but better than before.  And really great news, the poaching is vastly reduced because of the efforts of several local conservancies, and additional international efforts have convinced the local people that they are better off with them, than without them.  For instance, in Pakistan, 10-12 males are allowed to be hunted every year at a cost of about $100,000 for the experience.  This money, spent on a permit, lodgings, and local guide services, goes primarily into the local community, with 20 percent siphoned off for enforcement costs.  Whether this system has worked as perfectly as they would have you believe, who can say, but the population of Markhor is rebounding rapidly.  And the grassroots efforts continue as this excerpt from today’s edition of the Dawn an Urdu enewspaper reports.

GILGIT: A three-year-old young Astore Markhor was released into its habitat here on Friday after treatment for the injuries the goat suffered when it fell from a cliff.

This young buck was rescued by locals, who took him to the proper establishment for rescue and rehabilitation.  Now that he has recovered, forest rangers will monitor his welfare until he rejoins his herd.

I find this very encouraging and also wanted to share an absolutely scrumptious recipe the locals make using goat cheese.

 

Picture1
Rice and Goat Cheese Arancini

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rice, washed and drained
  • 1 cup (100g) grated mozzarella
  • 200g goats cheese
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped
  • 100g goats cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • basil sprigs, to serve
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 basil stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

 

Method

  • Bring 1L of water and rice to the boil in a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and cook with lid on for about 10 minutes until the water has absorbed. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Combine the mozzarella, half of the goat’s cheese and rosemary in a bowl. Add the rice to the bowl and mix until combined and the cheeses have melted. Season well with salt. Place in fridge for 10 minutes until cool.
  • Bring 1L of water and rice to the boil in a saucepan with a tightly fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and cook with lid on for about 10 minutes until the water has absorbed. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Combine the mozzarella, half of the goat’s cheese and rosemary in a bowl. Add the rice to the bowl and mix until combined and the cheeses have melted. Season well with salt. Place in fridge for 10 minutes until cool.
  • For the basil oil, puree all of the ingredients in a food processor. Season to taste. Strain through a muslin cloth. Set aside.
  • Divide the arancini mixture into 16 and form into patties. Cut the remaining goat’s cheese into small cubes. Place a piece of goat’s cheese inside each patty and enclose the rice mixture around it. Set up 3 bowls; 1 with flour, 1 with eggs and 1 with breadcrumbs. Dust each patty with flour, dip into the eggs, then coat in breadcrumbs.
  • Meanwhile, add enough oil to a large frying pan to come 1cm up the side of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat. In batches, fry the patties for about 2 minutes each side or until golden. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel. Season with salt.
  • Serve arancini with tomato sauce, basil oil and basil sprigs.

This is an insanely tasty and slightly exotic appetizer if you feel it would be too rich as the main course.

Eat Hearty!

دل کھا لو


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