about NH4 near Kamshet, Maharashtra 3 comments:
The emu looks like a kidsmenu version of the ostrich, but is apparently only distantly related (not even the same continent). I had seen a hundred emus from faraway in Karjat and three up close in a resort in Hampi (one wanted to befriend my shoe). A friend told me that it has a reputation for being stubborn, (but I think that’s before being cooked). And I knew they had three toes (ostriches have only two) - basically, I considered myself an expert on emus.

So this emu expert was driving through the old NH4 highway, looking for some dhaba named after Toni. Signs for the dhaba peppered the highway once we were past Lonavala, and eventually we were informed in warm tones that they accept all major credit cards, do come on in.

Toni da dhaba wasn’t exactly tony but it definitely was well-known - teeming as it was with people. At the back right where we parked the car was a cage full of emus. Not only that, the massive menu had menu scattered all over it, including a section of Toni specials that focused heavily on the bird. My mother, instantly suspicious of anything that wierd-looking, ordered a tandoori chicken (it was a dhaba, after all). I was keen on dipping a toe into emuland, maybe something safe like trying an emu omlette, but the waiter put paid to my hopes (and that, I later found out, was quite a lifesaver. An emu egg is the size of 10 chicken eggs and not even Australians think much of the taste). Finally, I ordered emu masala dry.

Emu meat, I must say, was interesting. Firstly, it is red meat – as dark as mutton, and with a taste that’s not dissimilar. Stringy, but not chewy, the pleasant texture of a well-cooked brisket springs to mind. And of course, given the size of the bird, the bones were huge and hard. Overall, quite pleasant, but smothered in a generic masala difficult to be be excited about except as a novelty. It had enough favour that something interesting can possibly be made from it with a good cook and some experimentation, but till then do go to Toni’s Dhaba and use any credit card.


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