Gusht-e- Land is one of the traditional processed meats of Herat Province.
It is commonly produced by local communities in this region, but over time this method has spread to other Afghan provinces such as Farah, Badghis, Faryab and Kabul. Mutton is generally used for the processing of Gusht-e- Land. The animals are sterilised early in their lives, at the age of four to five months, and the best sheep to produce this dry meat is a well-fattened two-year-old sheep. After slaughtering, the wool is removed, the skin is burnt, divided into small pieces and the bones are separated from the meat. The different pieces of meat are seasoned with salt and chilli powder and then dried for 10 days in the sun. The dried meat has a blackish-grey colour and is dry and tough; to cook it, it must be soaked for 6-8 hours beforehand, so that it softens on the one hand and its saltiness and sourness disappear on the other; after cooking, it has a distinctive smell, a slightly salty taste and a relatively tough state.
Drying is one of the oldest methods of meat processing and dried meat has traditionally played an important role in the winter diet of local communities living in Herat province. The history of this method seems to date back to the time when Mongol tribes attacked the city of Herat. According to this story, during the Mongol invasion of Herat, the inhabitants of this city used various methods to preserve food, especially fresh meat. In particular, drying became the best method of preserving food.
Gusht-e-Land is cooked together with rice and mung beans in the preparation of a very delicious food called Kicheri Gusht-t-e Land. It is a special winter food among Herat’s local communities and is considered one of Herat’s heritage foods.
In the past, this product was prepared by locals only for their own consumption. In 2016, the Faculty of Agriculture (Fag) and the Department of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) with the Herat Association of Hoteliers (HA) promoted an exhibition of traditional foods. Following this event, the DAIL and Fag suggested that local restaurateurs add some traditional foods to the menu of their restaurants. One of the famous restaurants in the city of Herat, the Bach-e- Malang, introduced this product in the preparation of a dish called Kicheri Bach-e- Malang, made of dried meat, rice and mung beans. In addition, a person from Herat introduced this product in his supermarket/shop and exports it to Europe and the US to meet the demand of Afghan communities.
Due to the introduction of fast food in recent years in the country and changes in lifestyle, especially in eating habits, most of the younger generation no longer appreciates traditional food such as beef jerky. In big cities like Herat, many people have become more interested in fast food, because they lead hectic lives and do not have time to prepare their own food. It is important that local food actors introduce and sell this traditional processed meat, given its potentially crucial role in supporting rural food producers, as well as sustaining and preserving traditional products as part of Afghanistan’s food and cultural heritage.