Row deprives regulars at Kerala House of their 'beef fry'

Known among city residents from Kerala for giving authentic cuisine from the southern state, Kerala House is suddenly in the middle of a row over serving buffalo meat listed as ‘beef’ on its menu.

A complaint over serving ‘beef’ had led to a ‘raid’ by Delhi Police at the government canteen on Monday.

“I am disappointed by what happened yesterday. Beef is a staple food in Kerala. If they are targeting this place for serving beef, then they are targeting our food choices and our culture,” said Anup, a software engineer from Kerala living in Delhi for the past two years.

The repercussions of the incident were immediate: Kerala House management removed ‘beef’ from the canteen’s menu for a while.

“We have decided to stop serving beef for the time being. The situation is not conducive right now to continue with it. Maybe in future we will decide to start it again,” said a staff member of the canteen who didn’t want to be named.

However, after the intervention of Kerala MPs, the canteen management decided to bring the dish back on the menu.

Kerala House has been serving ‘beef fry’ in its staff canteen, which is also open to members of the public, for many years. Never had they faced any kind of issue until Monday.

According to a staff member, non-vegetarian items on the menu costs only Rs 50, which is one of the reasons why the place is popular among people from Kerala living in Delhi.

“People particularly like the beef fry served here,” a staff member said. “We procure buffalo meat to make beef fry. Cow meat is illegal in Delhi, so the question of using it doesn’t even arise as this is a government-run canteen,” the staff member said.
But whether it’s cow or buffalo meat, the larger question in the mind of people coming to have food at Kerala House is how they can be dictated by someone else in matters as personal as eating habits?

“We have the right to eat what we want. For 22 years of my life, I have lived as a free man, doing what I felt was right, but today people are imposing their belief on us. We are forced to not eat something which we want to,” said Sudesh, a student from Kerala who came in Delhi to prepare for an engineering exam.

“If people have problem in eating something, they should not eat it. But how can they compel us to not eat something which we want to? Aren’t we living in a democratic country?” Sudesh said.

Kerala is among the few states in the country where slaughtering cows for meat is legal. 

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