A lot of us are accustomed to eating a very specific range of meats. This might include beef, pork, lamb and various types of poultry. For the slightly more adventurous, there are gamey meats like venison, pheasant and duck but these are still relatively common.
However, there are some types of meat that aren’t as common in places like the USA yet in other parts of the world, they are a staple food. This includes goat meat. But you won’t always hear it being called that so what is goat meat called?
The general term for adult goat meat is “chevon.” But different cultures refer to this meat by different names. For example, in India, they call goat meat “mutton.“
If you want to spice up your cooking and try out a recipe that’s a little different to what you’re used to then goat meat may be an option. Of course, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with it first and this guide will become your go to goat meat reference.
The common term for goat meat is exactly that: goat meat. This is what a lot of people use to refer to this type of meat.
However, if you want to use the correct term then you would call it chevon which is the proper word for goat meat. This refers to meat taken from an adult goat. If you are referring to meat taken from a young goat then you would use the term capretto which comes from Italian or the word cabrito which comes from the Spanish and Portuguese languages.
The word chevon actually comes from the French language. The word is a portmanteau of the French words for sheep and goat; chevre and mouton. This term became popular in the 1920s and is largely preferred by English speakers compared to just goat as it feels more palatable.
In India, there are restrictions on certain types of meat because of religious beliefs. For example, did you know that out of the 29 states of India, 20 prohibit the slaughter of cows? This means that beef is not available and when you couple this with many Indians’ belief that pork should not be consumed, the available meats aren’t as vast as the western world.
However, Indians replace this meat with goat which is as common as chicken is in the US. You’ll find goat in a whole host of Indian dishes including medicinal soups, curries and kebabs. But we will look at the recipes in a little more detail later on.
For anyone living in India, it is common to refer to goat meat simply as mutton. However, you have to be mindful that people here use this term to describe both sheep and goat meat. That said, Indians prefer to use goat meat as it’s much more tender and flavorsome than that of a sheep.
Goat meat is a common component of many dishes throughout the Caribbean nations. Just like in India, people here refer to goat meat as mutton. What’s interesting is that while the uber famous Jamaican curried goat might be synonymous with the country, it’s believed that the recipe was brought here by Eastern Indians many moons ago.
When you think of goat meat, your mind may instantly drift to Caribbean or Indian cuisine but these aren’t the only countries that favor this deliciously lean meat.
In Africa, goat meat is well loved and in Tanzania, it’s something of a ceremonial meat. Here, the locals refer to goat meat as ndafu. People will use an age old recipe of gutting and roasting a goat to celebrate a wedding. In fact, where we might go for a large wedding cake, it’s the ndafu that takes center stage at a Tanzanian wedding!
Down there in Mexico, goat meat is just as popular as it is across the sea in the Caribbean. Here, people use the Spanish term for a baby goat which is cabrito.
In this area of the world, they may also use the culinary term chevon which we discussed earlier on.
What’s more, the use of goat meat in Latin America extends far beyond Mexico. You’ll find cabrito dishes in places like Peru, Argentina, and Brazil which are all incredibly popular.
When you take meat from a sheep, it’s often referred to as lamb. This is something we are all familiar with and a term that probably doesn’t ignite too much thought. However, when you begin thinking about how interchangeable certain terms are when it comes to goat meat, it’s not hard to see why things can get confused.
So, while Indians and other cultures might use the term mutton for sheep and goat, there is a clear difference. Let’s simplify it!
Lamb is a term that we use to refer to the meat taken from a young sheep. This is often what you’ll find on the shelves at grocery stores and butchers.
Lamb is normally taken from a sheep that is no older than one year. The benefit of this is that lamb is generally a lot more tender. However, since the animal has not had time to mature, you’ll find that the flavor is not quite as potent.
Mutton is used around the world to describe both goat and sheep meat collectively. But this is not the correct use of this term. Mutton actually refers to meat taken from an older sheep; usually one that is no younger than three years.
Unlike lamb, this meat has had longer to develop so tends to have a much richer flavor. However, since the connective tissues of the animal have also had longer to develop, mutton is usually a lot tougher so is better suited to slow cooking.
Goat meat is the common term for chevon and refers only to meat taken from a goat. The flavor of goat meat is markedly sweeter than that of lamb which is why a lot of people prefer it. It may not be as naturally tender but it’s far less fatty and, since most recipes call for slow cooking, it ends up being a lot more tender than most lamb dishes.
Goat meat is bursting with nutrients and it’s super tasty so it comes as very little surprise that there are tons of delicious chevon recipes from around the world. From slow cooked roasts to curries and even soups, it doesn’t matter what you’re into, there will be a goat meat dish that you fall in love with.
Our Indian friends have been eating goat for centuries. The leanness of this meat is perfect for the Indian palate as they’re not fans of chewy or fatty meats. What’s more, as we discussed earlier, there are limitations on what meats are available in this country so goat is the perfect alternative where we might eat pork or beef.
However, what we have to keep in mind is that goat meat doesn’t come cheap in India. Here, it is far less expensive to rear chickens and so the cost of goat is relatively high. Still, it features on the menus of homes and restaurants across the nation.
Mutton, as it is known locally, is used in a whole host of dishes. India is famous for its curries and if you visit the country, you’ll find that goat is used in many of these. Things like biriyani, which is a rice dish, often feature goat as well as many other types of mutton curry.
But one of the dishes that really gets people going is mutton paya soup. This is a type of bone broth and is hailed, by Indians, as not only tasty but also one of the most beneficial dishes for your health.
It is thought to relieve joint pain and build muscles. On top of this, many believe that mutton paya soup will contribute to weight loss, as part of a healthy lifestyle, of course. Another reason that this bone broth is so popular is that it’s thought to strengthen the immune system and fight inflammation. If that wasn’t enough, a lot of Indians swear by mutton paya soup to promote healthier skin and improve the function of the gut. All of that and it’s bursting with nutrients!
It’s probably also worth noting that, while we are focusing on Asia, goat meat is also popular in many other Asian nations. In South Asia, it’s eaten everywhere from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh. In Nepal, goat meat is considered to be a delicacy and is used ceremonially in many cases. During the annual festival of Dashain, goats are sacrificed as part of the celebrations. Here goat meat is known as boka-ko-masu.
In Indonesia, people go gaga for goat meat and enjoy eating it on skewers. But it is also a popular choice for curries and soups.
Move further east and we get to Japan where goat isn’t what you’d call a staple food but it certainly features on a lot of menus. The most popular way that Japanese chefs prepare goat meat is in the dish yagisashi where goat meat is served raw. Note that you’ll be hard pushed to find this dish outside of Okinawa.
We’ve talked a lot about how goat meat, or chevon, is used around the world in places like Central America, Africa, and Asia. But there hasn’t been much talk about how it’s used in Europe.
Some parts of Europe don’t regularly eat goat meat, much like the USA. However, there are parts where goat meat is not only well loved but even used ceremonially.
For example, in places like Serbia and Greece, chevon is roasted and served as a celebration of Easter. In other places, such as Portugal, it’s not uncommon to see a joint of roast goat on the table for Christmas Day.
Mexico is well known for churning out chevon dishes so if you’re headed south of the border then you’re probably keen to find the best restaurants for goat in Mexico.
While there are a lot, El Rey Del Cabrito is perhaps one of the most well loved chevon restaurants in the country. It has received rave reviews on Trip Advisor and a whole host of other internet review sites.
El Rey Del Cabrito currently has more than 36,000 check ins on Facebook and attracts everyone from tourists to celebrities. It has won awards from around the world and the popularity of the restaurant looks as though it is set to continue sky rocketing.
Located in the heart of Monterrey, El Rey Del Cabrito serves everything from legs, filets, tortillas and so much more. You’ll enjoy your hearty goat meat meal in vibrant kitsch surroundings that have to be seen to be believed. Plus, while this is an internationally acclaimed restaurant, the prices are anything but what you’d expect. For a single meal, you’ll only expect to pay around $14!
If you travel to South Asia, Central America, or Africa, you’ll find that goat is a staple part of the local diet. In fact, more than 70% of the entire population of the world includes goat in its everyday diet. So, while we here in the States might think of it as an exotic dish, it’s a lot more common than we probably realize.
Up until very recently, goat isn’t something that most Americans would ever have tried. The same can be said in places like Canada, the United Kingdom and other parts of Northern Europe. However, since there is more movement around the world, immigrants are bringing their recipes for the rest of us to enjoy.
Not only this but more and more Americans are understanding the versatility and tastiness of goat and this demand has led to more restaurants opening that serve this meat.
In fact, goat meat has become so popular in American culture over the last few years that we’re even taking it on as something of our own. Down in Texas, there is now an Annual World Championship for BBQing goat!
This is hardly surprising when you think that, compared to other red meats, chevon is far less fatty and doesn’t have as much cholesterol. That said, it’s not quite as high in protein as some other red meats so if you’re looking for a high protein diet then this might not be the right meat for you.
If you are going to give goat a try then always make sure to slow cook it as this will make the meat as tender and juicy as possible. Cook on a low heat for several hours to reveal the moist and tasty flavor that so many of our international friends are enjoying.
There are so many meat options that it can be confusing to choose one for your next meal. However, in America and Europe, most of us choose between a very small selection of meats.
But if you go further afield, you will notice that things like goat meat are much more popular. While you can use the term goat meat to refer to this, most people use the culinary term chevon as this just sounds a lot nicer.
But how goat meat is described largely depends on where you are in the world. If you’re in a Spanish speaking country, then you’ll probably call it cabrito whereas the Italians refer to goat meat as cabretto.
Over in India, where goat meat is super popular, people usually call it mutton. But this can get confusing as they could be referring to either goat or sheep meat.
But as Shakespeare so eloquently put it ‘a rose by any other name still smells as sweet’ and that’s certainly fitting where goat meat is concerned. No matter what you call it, this is a tender, rich, and versatile type of meat that is becoming more and more popular here in the USA. You no longer need to travel to get a taste of chevon, there’s probably a restaurant serving it in your local city right now. Bon Appetit!