Kabab prices soar in city of Nawabs

‘Poor man’s kabab’ in Lucknow hit hard by shortage of buffalo meat even as lions in Kanpur and Lucknow zoo lose appetite and refuse to partake goat meat

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee

Biswajeet Banerjee

For the first time in 105 years, Lucknow’s Tundey Kababi on Wednesday failed to serve its famous Badey ka kabab (kababs made of buffalo meat), because of paucity of buffalo meat following crackdown on illegal slaughter houses.

“We are not getting adequate supply of meat (buffalo) because of the crackdown on slaughter houses. Thus, we are forced to sell kababs made of chicken and goat meat. Many of our customers are not happy but we have no other option,” said Raees Ahmad, the owner of Tundey Kababi, the outlet at Chowk in old Lucknow.

Kababs made by Tundey—called Tundey Kabab—are a gastronomical delight made with herbs and mix of spices which are said to be a family secret. Two kinds of kababs are sold in the city—bade ka kabab and chottey ka kabab, made out of buffalo and goat meat respectively.

“The shortage of buff meat hit us very hard and we were forced to close this shop on Wednesday. We opened it on Thursday but the business is dull. People come here specially for bade ka kabab, which we are not able to sell,” Ahmad said.

The second outlet of Tundey Kababi is in Aminabad, which serves more delicacies and has a more diversified menu. Usman Bhai, who runs the outlet, said that they were not affected because they have a varied platter of chottey ka kabab in their menu.

“Those who are serving only badey ka kabab have been affected,” he said. “This kabab is also called ‘poor man’s kabab’ because it is cheaper. People from lower classes are used to eating badey kabab but they are missing it now, he said.

Tundey Kababi at Chowk has put up a notice pricing mutton and chicken kebabs at ₹70 and ₹50 per plate (including two parathas) respectively while ‘Badey ka Kebab’ used to be sold at ₹30 per plate, including the parathas.

The rates of raw buffalo meat is around ₹180-200 per Kg, while that of goat varies between ₹450 and ₹500 per kilogram.

At Chowk there are also several outlets serving ‘Paaye Ki Nihari’. The shortage of meat has affected their sale as well.

Even animals have started feeling the pinch. The Zoological parks in Lucknow and Kanpur have sent an SoS to the government informing that lions had stopped eating goat meat.

“In Lucknow zoo we used to get 150 kgs of buffalo meat every day but since Tuesday the contractor is not able to supply buffalo meat. Now, we serve goat meat but the animals are not eating it to their fill,’ Dr Nasim Zaidi informed. Similar information has been received from the Lion Safari in Etawah.

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