It's not often I get invited to eat stuffed pigeon for lunch. The day the invitation was extended I was slightly hesitant. Exactly which kind of pigeon were we talking about? In my mind there are only 2 types of pigeons. (I'm sure a pigeon expert could rattle off numerous varieties of pigeons that exist but that doesn't mean My Mind would be any better off for the effort).
|Kiwi Wood Pigeon|
In New Zealand we have Kereru, the Maori name for our Wood Pigeon, a colorful, berry eating and endangered bird protected under the Wildlife Act. (As a heads up, should your neighbor tell you he has a footless chicken in the freezer he means illegally caught pigeon!).
|Pigeons on a local Riyadh farm|
It turns out the latter version is the one on the lunch menu today, though I shouldn't think so negatively about pigeons. According this website, Deterapigeon, pigeons have been an important part of human existence for centuries, only becoming much maligned in recent times. Humankind has also been eating pigeons for more than a few years.
Hamam Mahshi, as the dish is locally known, isn't uncommon in these parts. Googling 'Stuffed Pigeon' brings up about 2,440,000 results, in 0.29 seconds, mostly of recipes. The Apple and Raisin stuffing sounded deliciously sweet while the Roasted Morrocan style filled with couscous made my mouth water. Apparently, the more traditional method is to stuff the pigeon with Freekah, a cereal used in many dishes throughout the Middle East.
It isn't necessary to chase your pigeon through the park to catch it either. For the raw materials simply head to the Pet Souq on Riyadh's outskirts and you'll find plenty of caged pigeons for sale, though they are still alive which means someone will have to kill the bird in order for you to stuff it.
If popping off pigeons isn't your thing but you'd still like to tick 'I ate pigeon in Saudi Arabia' off your bucket list, then the Mirage restaurant in Takasussi St is known to have pigeon on the menu. Our pigeon meal was delivered to our door, wrapped in tin foil. It was surprisingly nice, though it's easy to see why the bird has to be stuffed. Without all that extra filling they are rather scrawny!
If you've ever been a pooped on by a pigeon and retribution is in your nature, perhaps this could be payback - put stuffed pigeon on your dinner plate tonight.