Pakistani charity serves ostrich curry feast ahead of month-long Ramadan fast

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A Pakistani charity in the teeming coastal metropolis of Karachi is serving up a rare treat for the city’s Muslims ahead of their fast for the holy month of Ramadan — ostrich meat.

Key points:

  • Ostrich can cost up the 2,200 rupees ($15.50) per kilo
  • The charity also plans to offer deer and other expensive meat
  • Muslims abstain from eating, drinking or smoking in daylight hours during Ramadan

Expensive and seldom eaten in Pakistan, ostrich is deemed exotic in the mainly Muslim nation of 208 million people.

“In this city, there are big billboards about costly iftar [meal to break one’s fast] and buffet dinners which even a middle-class person can’t afford. Keeping this problem in view, people supported us and, like previous years, we are offering dishes that even middle-class people can’t afford, let alone the poor,” said Zafar Abbas, the general-secretary of the Jafaria Disaster Management Cell Welfare Foundation.

The flightless birds were brought to the venue in Karachi on Monday, before they were slaughtered and cooked.

The meal was dished out in the early hours of Tuesday, before dawn broke, when Pakistani Muslims began their month-long Ramadan fast.

Volunteers stewed the red meat, said to resemble lean beef with a gamey flavour, in cauldrons and served it in a chickpea curry to more than 500 residents.

Mr Abbas said the plan was to offer deer and other expensive cuisine in the coming days during Ramadan, when practising Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours.

People eat charity food prepared with ostrich meat and chickpea

Ostrich meat costs more than mutton and chicken in Pakistan, selling for 1,200 rupees ($8.50) to 2,200 rupees ($15.50) per kilogram, compared to chicken which costs about 300 rupees ($2.10) per kilogram and mutton at 950 rupees ($6.70) per kilogram.

“It felt very nice. I had never eaten [ostrich],” said van driver Mohammad Hussain.

“It was so wholesome that I don’t feel the need to eat for the next two days.”

With food prices generally rising during Ramadan, handouts from the wealthy serve as a major source of relief for those living in poverty.