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If you're a serious carnivore, seriously hungry, and in Delhi, raan, the signature offering at Maurya Sheraton's Bukhara, is to die for:

'A veritable mountain of cinnamon-fragrant, soft meat sliding off the bone, raan is one of the planet's higher forms of life on the food chain. First, it's considered a kebab because it's char-grilled, though it doesn't come on a skewer. Second, raan is customarily translated as leg of lamb, occasionally mutton, when it most certainly isn't either.

This verbatim exchange with an experienced waiter at Bukhara, the Maurya Sheraton's legendary outlet for "frontier" cooking—as in British India's former northwestern frontier with Afghanistan—tells the whole story.

Q: You call the raan a leg of lamb on your menu. Is that correct?

A: True, sir.

Q: But I was led to believe there is very little lamb in India.

A: True, sir.

Q: So what is it?

A: Lamb for international standard.

Q: But it's really goat?

A: True, sir. A baby lamb goat.

Q: But lamb and goat are different animals, no?

A: Yes, sir. In India, lamb is goat. A young one.

Q: So the menu isn't correct?

A: For international standard, sir.'

'According to Jiggs Kalra, a leading Indian food authority and consultant, raan can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road-era game of buzkashi—where horsemen played polo by tossing about the head of a sheep.

While sometimes marketed as Punjabi, the dish's true origins lie in what is now Pakistan. The Kashmiris who lived in this territory preferred to make their raan with lamb, which has more fat and tastes gamier.

However, says Mr. Kalra, the Punjabis—who occupied the region in northwest India and northeast Pakistan—were more finicky about their meat. And as the dish traveled southward and westward toward Delhi, they replaced the lamb with the leg of a kid goat. (This may be because lamb wasn't as available, and goat meat tastes less strong, more delicate.)'
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