Mutton Shortage Dictating Menu Changes In Kashmir Homes, Hotels

by Parrey Babar

SRINAGAR: The Wazwan country is witnessing interesting development as the mutton moved out of butcher’s knife. Mutton consumers are either managing their Roganjosh by paying the asking prices or have simply got into chicken eating.

The shortage coincided with the onset of winter that surges the mutton consumption because of the massive Harissa consumption. This is a special seasonal dish that urban Kashmir has routinely been consuming for most of the recorded history. Initially, there were quite a few Harissa eateries but now every hotel is offering the breakfast dish.

“After mutton shortage, we got the idea of making chicken harrisa and we got very positive responses,” Roohia Naziki, the promoter of the Chai Jai said. “People who have had health issues like diabetes have started eating this harissa.” It sells at only two-third of the mutton Harissa.

The mutton shortage owes to government intervention in its pricing. The government fixed the rate of Rs 480 per kilogram of mutton. But the butcher community said it is too less given the costs of the sheep heads and the freight. They were already selling upward of Rs 600 per kilograms. After the government started filing police cases against the mutton sellers, they shut the shop and went home.

This has created a sort of a crisis in Kashmir, especially Srinagar. Home apart, it has started hitting the hospitality sector.

In Lal Chowk, Standard Hotel and Restaurant that has been serving Wazwan to his customers since 1955 has edited out various courses from the menu. It is now offering only Kabab, rista and Rogan josh and a lot of chicken and vegetable dishes.

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“We have decreased 70 per cent of dishes in Kashmiri wazwan because the mutton is not available,” Lateef Khan, who oversees the functioning of the restaurant said. “There are no options left other than chicken.”

Mughal Darbar, another restaurant chain, has prioritized party orders involving engagement ceremonies and most of these orders are pre-booked, some many months in advance. The daily wazwan serving in the restaurant are available in limited quantity for a few hours around noon. This is despite the fact that this restaurant chain owns a mutton storage facility.

Mutton is a major business activity. Market insiders said this sub-sector alone has around Rs 3000 crore turnover and most of the sheep and goat is supplied by Rajasthan an various other sheep-breeding states.

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