KOCHI: As the threat of avian flu looms large over central Kerala, the restaurants where mostly chicken dishes are being served have literally become deserted. Some restaurants that are best known for chicken dishes have reportedly changed their menu to beef and fish.
In a reputed restaurant at Kaloor, where chicken biryani was the favourite pick for the foodies, there were no takers for it for the past couple of days. “We used to sell around 200-300 plates of biryani during lunch time apart from parcels, but for the past two days, the sales have shown a severe dip. Currently we have only the option to replace it with beef or fish items and hopefully the ongoing ‘scare’ will fizzle out soon,” said the owner of the restaurant on condition of anonymity. Similarly, in a premier branded chicken outlet based in Kerala, the customer walk-ins considerably went down after the news spread. “As we are using specialised and sterilised chickens for preparing the dishes, there is no room for any panic. Moreover, our customers value and believe in our food,” said an employee of the outlet.
“Not only me, many Keralites are chicken lovers. Now we have to depend on red meat or vegetables. But in my view, the media exaggerated the news and created panic. “Of course there are some cases in some districts, but it escalated to a level that destroyed an industry,” said Kiran,a hard-core chicken lover. Meanwhile, Jose Mohan, general secretary, All Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association, told Express that 50 per cent of the non-vegetarian restaurants across the state were facing the threat of closure. As chicken was a prime dish for Keralites, no dish can replace it. Not only the restaurants, the markets also look deserted. So our association urges the government to immediately intervene in the crisis being faced by restaurants and poultry farmers,” he said. The flu outbreak was a result of over-dependence on chickens from the neighbouring states. The government should open its eyes and act to achieve this,” he added.