Beef ban hits Mumbai's famous food joints

Beef ban hits Mumbai's famous food joints

A month after the cow slaughter ban came into force in Maharashtra, famous hotels of the Maximum City have been hit hard as they took beef off the menu.

Famous painter the late Maqbool Fida Hussain and actor Sanjay Dutt often used to visit Noor Mohammadi Hotel at Bhendi Bazaar for “nalli-nihari”. At the Sarvi Hotel at Nagpada, writer the late Saadat Hasam Manto used to sit at one corner and often relish his naan and kababs. At the Leopold Café and Bar at Colaba, one of the targets of the 26/11 terror attacks, writer Gregory David Roberts, who penned “Shantaram”, is often seen. The joint is famous for beef-chilli fry. Sneha Restaurant at Mahim is known for the Kerala-style beef fry.

The ban on beef has affected not just the big restaurants that have figured in international media, but even the small hotels that are not really famous. Five-star and three-star hotels too have taken out beef from the menu, hotel industry sources said. Deonar, which houses Asia’s biggest slaughterhouse, wears a deserted look.

“There are several places in Mumbai where commoners and celebrities rub shoulders. The list is quite long. But now, it is not the same. The beef ban has really affected several restaurants,” says Rafique Baghdadi, a veteran journalist, writer, film critic and an expert on Mumbai.

“Muslim-owned hotels in Nagpada-Bhendi Bazaar-Minara Masjid area as well as Christian-owned hotels in Dhobi Talao have been badly affected. In Sarvi, chicken kababs are being served now and the business has come down drastically,” he said.

“We had beef in our menu besides chicken and mutton. I can say, we have been affected to the extent of 50 per cent, but there are hotels which only sold beef-items and these has been affected to the extent of 70 to 80 per cent,” said Khalid Hakim, who runs Noor Mohammadi.  “Actually, in my hotel, more non-Muslims came for nalli-nihari than Muslims,” he said.

“The hope is that the society overcomes such abuse of ‘identity issues’ for political goals and lets the people make their choices in matters of food habits, and let those who are making their living from this trade do so peacefully,” points out secularist Ram Puniyani, who is associated with All-India Secular Forum, Center for Study of Society and Secularism and Act Now for Harmony and Democracy.

Pappu Ustad, one of the expert beef-cooks of Mumbai, said: “One has to look at the issue in totality….chicken cannot be compared with mutton or beef. Moreover, beef is cheaper than mutton. One has to look into social and economic issues as well,” he said.

“This law will not just hit us and render people unemployed, it will also push up prices of other meat, mutton and chicken,” said the president of Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association Mohammed Qureshi.  

Traders have decided not to slaughter water buffalos, which is allowed as per the new law, as a mark of protest.

Around 8,000 butchers, caretakers of cattle at slaughterhouses, beef dealers, packagers and farmers participated in a protest gathering organised by the Sarv Shramik Sangh recently.

Sangh secretary Vijay Dalvi said the government did not take into consideration all the aspects before imposing the ban. “This ban affects not just Muslims, but a larger community too, including Hindus, who are involved in meat packaging, and manufacturing cosmetics made from cattle parts,” added Dalvi.

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