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What Is Stuffed Camel?

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  • Written By: Elizabeth West
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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Whole stuffed camel is rumored to be a Bedouin wedding feast consisting of a whole roasted camel, with a nested stuffing of various smaller animals, eggs and other ingredients. It remains unclear whether stuffed camel is a real dish or simply an urban myth. While camel is eaten in some Middle Eastern cultures, Arab cuisine generally centers around lamb and chicken, vegetables and rice, that are all heavily spiced. A similar dish of stuffed poultry called a turducken is served in regional American cultures.

To roast an entire camel would be an enormous and challenging undertaking. The amount of food involved would preclude its preparation in anything other than outdoor pits, cooking the entire beast along with its stuffing. According to one written recipe, 20 roasted chickens are stuffed with 60 eggs. Then a sheep is stuffed with the chickens and rice, and then stuffed into the camel with more rice, various nuts and spices. The entire camel is then placed on a bed of rice and it’s time for the guests to eat.

A whole stuffed camel would typically be more than enough for a large gathering such as a Bedouin tribal wedding. These celebrations often last between two and five days, and many family members gather to partake in the celebration along with local townspeople and visitors. In keeping with Arab cuisine, stewed vegetables, breads and many types of drinks such as tea, coffee and fruit juices accompany the camel.

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Bedouin people are very welcoming of guests, as they are considered to also be guests of Allah. This belief is comparable to the Christian idea that loving treatment of others honors God. While there is no hard and fast record of Bedouin hosts serving an entire stuffed camel to a guest, they often cook whole goats in an underground oven known as a zaarp.

Turducken is a smaller version of stuffed camel, using a chicken inside a duck, inside a turkey. This dish is popular in American Southern cuisine. Cooks often use cornbread stuffing between the birds, rather than using a layer of rice. Variations include a pigturducken-- a turducken inside a boneless pig, using game birds instead of domestic fowl as well as the hotchken, or poor man’s turducken, a chicken stuffed with hotdogs. There are many varieties of this type of layered meat that can be cooked in similar fashion.

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