HYDERABAD: It’s quite difficult to think of a city without its culinary blueprints especially in times of uncertainty. Hyderabad, with its gourmet history interwoven with the recipes from the kitchens of the Nawabs and Nizams, is said to have boasted of 40 types of biryanis in the times gone the cooking methods of which have almost disappeared.
The trail, however, hasn’t completely disappeared. That’s how no feast in the city can ever be complete without biryani especially Chicken Biryani and the several other delights that are made from the meat of the bird.
Amid the scare of bird flu with 2,000 chickens found dead in a Mandal of Nizamabad along with bird deaths in Nalgonda, Warangal and Peddapalli, rang the alarm. Despite the fact that many of the samples tested negative and Talasani Srinivas Yadav the Minister of Animal Husbandry said that there is no bird flu in the State, people are hesitant to savour chicken dishes.
Ups and downs
There has been a decline in the sale of poultry products. “It’s the small-time traders that are suffering. There have been no reports of deaths due to bird flu. Nowhere has anyone got infected with it. It doesn’t get transferred through food. Chicken when it’s well cooked on high temperature is safe to eat,” says Suresh Chitturi, the chairman of the International Egg Commission and the vice-chairman of All India Poultry Breeders Association.
He adds, “The Indian style of cooking anyway uses high temperature and several boiling methods which is quite safe in itself.” At the same time, many restaurants are facing a challenging situation given the less demand for chicken dishes in the midst of a pandemic. But most of the eateries have been taking the proper safety measures while preparing the items.
Shares Shaaz Mehmood, a partner of Olive Bistro Hyderabad, “We have been taking all precautions and measures for a secure and a safe dining experience. Poultry as always is being sourced from vendors who maintain high hygiene and strict standards. Our food is cooked at 70 degrees and above and we are not using eggs in cocktails and desserts which are not cooked at the right temperature.”
Restaurants are also keeping the stocks limited and claim to have been sourcing only the fresh stock. Informs Sampath Srinivas Tummula the owner of Spicy Venue, “We keep the vessels sterilised and avoid touching the raw stocks directly.”
He adds, “The proper sourcing of stock from the trusted vendors is important. We have been using the method of slow cooking at high temperature as the same keeps the food safe.” Surojit Dhal, an IT professional living in Madhapur is being cautious. He says, “Ever since I heard of the chickens dying in large numbers I have stopped eating any poultry items. I have been cooking and eating fish and lamb. Who wants to invite additional trouble in the middle of a pandemic? Who knows what can happen in such uncertain times!”
Like him, several other denizens have also switched to lamb and fish and do not want to consume chicken even if the same is home-cooked. This has affected the home chefs, who prepare food in their own kitchens and offer door-to-door delivery via a delivery partner. But they have not stopped preparing chicken dishes. Shares Rizwan Farooqui who runs Shahi Makhsoos, “We have been cooking the meat for long hours and taking all the precautions required. Some of our customers have started re-ordering chicken dishes.”