Srinagar: Mutton crisis has hit restaurants and eateries in Kashmir with most of them changing menu and serving only white meat dishes.
Restaurant owners say they are losing business and incurring huge financial losses. Most of the restaurants are now serving chicken, fish, and vegetarian dishes to survive in the market.
“For the past few weeks, we have been unable to serve mutton dishes due to shortage of meat. Off late, people had been avoiding chicken due to bird flu. There was an increase in demand for mutton burgers, mutton patties, and other mutton specialties. Now, many customers just walk away when they do not find mutton specialties on the menu,” said Sajad Hassan, General Manager, Modern Sweets at-Karan Nagar, a popular eatery that serves bakery and fast food items.
Restaurants that only sell ‘wazwan’ and other mutton dishes are badly hit.
“Initially, I would buy mutton secretly for Rs 600 to 700 per kilo but now I am unable to get any. This has badly hit my business as people come to my restaurant mostly to eat ‘wazwan thali’. Earlier, we were hit due to the successive lockdowns in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 from August 5 in 2019 and then the Covid lockdown last year. Now, when things started looking better, this mutton shortage hit our business,” said a restaurant owner wishing anonymity.
Customers too are complaining as they are unable to find mutton dishes at the restaurants.
“Previously, whenever there was a mutton shortage, restaurants would somehow get their quota from butchers. However, of late the restaurants too are not getting mutton from the retailers. Now, eating out has become boring in the absence of mutton dishes. And even if restaurants serve mutton dishes these days, one wonders if it is mutton or beef!” said Arif, a foodie.
Mutton crisis has been lingering on for the past few months in the Valley after the government fixed the retail rate at Rs. 480 a kilo.
General Secretary All Kashmir Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association Mehraj-u-din Ganai said It was not possible to sell good quality mutton for Rs. 480 and that the fixed rates were ‘unrealistic’.
“We have already made it clear that the present rate is not acceptable. The government should propose realistic rates. Good quality mutton cannot be sold for these rates,” Ganai told The Kashmir Monitor.
The government had recently proposed to hike the retain mutton rate to Rs. 515 per kilo but the dealers had rejected the same too and continued with their strike.