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‘Beef seekh kebabs without beef?’ Customers, owners fret

The ban leaves only carabeef and buffalo meet on the table, for now.

Mumbai |
March 4, 2015 3:54:58 am

By: Rohit Alok

Of the 12 marble-topped tables at the century old Sarvi, a grubby-looking eatery in Nagpada, seven tables are occupied though it’s just 10 am on Tuesday. And all the seated customers are waiting to be served beef kebabs, the soft, melt-in-your mouth delicacy that’s one of Sarvi’s best known dishes, as popular for its taste and after-taste as for its cost — Rs 36 a plate. On Tuesday, several customers were ordering more than one portion, some as takeaways. After all, as one waiter said, “They expect their beef-eating days to be numbered.”

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, nearly 19 years after the state Assembly passed it during the earlier BJP-Shiv Sena rule in 1995. As a result, in addition to the prohibition of cow slaughter, which is included in the the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, the slaughter of bulls as well as bullocks, previously allowed based on a fit-for-slaughter certificate, will now be banned. This leaves only carabeef and buffalo meet on the table, for now.

Among the first to notice that their business will be badly hit are restaurants such as Sarvi.

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“This is purely political,” grumbles Ali Raza, the owner. “There are various criteria to be met before slaughtering of any animals. Milch cows are not killed anyway.” He adds that among his clientele, the ones who specifically prefer beef are the labourers around the Nagpada area. “Beef is the least expensive of all meat that we sell. The cobblers, traders and porters in the area prefer beef. It costs them the least and is quite filling,” a waiter says.

“Just two kebabs with bread is a filling meal and costs me only Rs 36. Lasts me for at least four hours and I prefer it to vada pavs,” says Mohammed Mulla, a taxi driver from Ratnagiri.

Talib Virji, a marketing executive, says foodies like him are needlessly caught in a political crossfire. Virji likes to eat red meat and prefers beef at least three times a week.

Another restaurant with popular beef items on the menu is the simple Al-Rehamani, a 70-year-old restaurant opposite JJ flyover.

Owner Yasin Sheikh says his beef dishes are a mixture of buffalo and bullock meat. “One of the most sold items is the Seekh Parantha, but it is not pure beef. I have two distributors and I still do not get enough meat of one kind. This ban will hit my business hard.”

Ameen Khan, an Agripada resident and part-time porter who’s eating at Al-Rehamani, says he understands the religious significance of the cow for Hindus. “But why bullocks too?”

Sheikh says the prices of carabeef and of other meats would go up, and not marginally. “I will have to make my beef Seekh Parantha in chicken.”

Bucylla-resident Adnan Thambawala says he prefers beef because it’s available in boneless form readily. “In the other meats I have to ask for it separately. Fish, chicken, mutton and then beef, that is the descending order of how expensive meat is. Mutton has too many bones, don’t think I can resort to it,” Thambawala says.

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