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» Hashi Burgers: When in Riyadh…
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Hashi Burgers: When in Riyadh…

By • Jul 29th, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

If you’re looking to satisfy your cheeseburger craving with the latest exotic offering, you may have to get a new passport.  Three Saudi Arabian brothers in the capital city of Riyadh have started a fast-food restaurant called Local Hashi Meals, and they’ve introduced hashi burgers to the Saudi people.

“Hashi” is the Saudi word for baby camel meat.

camels

Camel has long been a staple of the Saudi Arabian diet, but having it in burger form is a relatively new innovation in this part of the world.  Baby camels are typically used for the burgers, since a camel’s meat toughens considerably as it grows older.   And according to reports, the hashi burgers are a huge hit.  Camel meat is supposedly very light and tender, low in fat and cholesterol, and exceptionally non-greasy.  Quite frankly, based on what I saw in a short news video on MSN, they’re “non-greasy” to the point of looking a bit dry.  But when they’re dressed up in cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato,  and mayo and served on sesame seed buns, maybe they’re not too different from some of the “value menu” burgs we wolf down here in the good old U.S. of A.

camelburger

The fast-food approach may be helping the baby camel burgers’ popularity with mainstream Middle Easterners.  In some markets, hashi burgers are still a decidedly old-school affair.  First, you visit the camel butcher.  (Look for the giant dead camel head he’s hung out front to show you how fresh it is.)  Tell him how many patties you want, and he cuts away the meat on the spot.  He adds some spices, grinds it up, and hands you a bag to take to the barbeque man around the corner.  He takes your meat, fires up his grill, and emerges thirty minutes later with your hashi burgers, which are shaped more like meatballs.  (I guess it’s BYOB: Bring Your Own Buns.)

And the camel craze seems to be taking off worldwide.  Australians are now being urged to start eating camel meat. It seems the camel is a voracious eater, and is literally picking the Australian Outback clean.  So adding hashi to the menu down under may be a way to control the camel population, thereby saving the continent’s natural resources.  No word on if hashi burgers will be showing up in the States alongside the Bloomin’ Onion anytime soon.

But West Coasters are already getting their dromedary on.  There’s a place in Seattle called Ed’s Kort Haus that serves a camel burger for $10.95.  Not in the mood for a Saudi Slyder?  (Okay, I made that up.  It’s probably not called that.  But it’s catchy, no?)  The menu at Ed’s also features burgers made of alligator, ostrich, or even reindeer.  But the Blitzen Burger is available only at Christmastime.  (I made that one up, too.  I could do this all day, Ed.  Make me a job offer.)

camel

Want more of a taste?  Check out this cool slideshow I found online.  It’s about a British chef who now runs a cafe in Morocco and serves up camel burgers daily.  The burger shots are sparse, but there’s some great photography and a nice slice-of-life look at a culture that many of us will never experience otherwise.

Since the commute to Riyadh would be a killer for me, I’m not sure I’ll be having a true hashi burger anytime soon.  But it’s a good reminder that there’s a lot more out there than just beef burgers, and they’re all worth trying.  After all, if my very best burger story includes nothing more outrageous than a fried egg, I should diversify my palate a bit.

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