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Mutton is back but ‘bheja-fry’ disappears from market in Kashmir

Srinagar: Meat lovers had heaved a sigh of relief when retailers called off three-month-long strike last week, but foodies are now missing ‘kode’ (brain of lamb/ sheep).

‘Kode’ used to be the favourite dish of many but it has almost vanished from the markets in the Kashmir valley of late. Usually sold by the butchers selling ‘kal-maaz’ (head-meat) and sheep totters, they say it had a huge demand outside and it fetched better rates when exported.

“We only sell ‘kal-maaz’ and ‘pacheich’ now and we have stopped selling ‘kode’ altogether. In retail, we would sell it for Rs. 20-30 per piece locally but it fetches better rates when exported. It has a huge demand outside. It is even served in restaurants there and dishes like ‘bheja-fry’ are very popular,” said a retailer at Saraibala area of the city.

All J&K Mutton Dealers president Khazir Mohammad Regoo said retailers dealing with head-meat had yearly contracts with the exporters of ‘kode’ due to which it  has become scarce locally.

“Those retailers who deal with head meat have yearly contracts with ‘tuj’ (barbeque) sellers, ‘paacheih’ and ‘kal-maaz’ sellers, etc. There is a big demand for sheep brains outside. Now, they also have contracts for an entire year with those who export ‘kode’. It fetches a rate of Rs.40-50 per piece. As a result, ‘kode’ is not easily available here anymore,” Regoo told The Kashmir Monitor.

Omar Rather, a popular Valley-based food blogger, said ‘kode’ was rarely available now-a-days and he too was receiving complaints from foodies over its scarcity.

“Kashmiris would love to eat ‘kode’ especially for breakfast. I know people who used to buy it very often and then make a ‘bheja-fry’ and have it with ‘roti’ particularly in winters. But, it is hard to find now. If you are lucky, you may find it at places like Hazratbal market but it is not freely available anymore,” Rather told The Kashmir Monitor.

Sajad Ahmad, who loves eating ethnic food, said he was lucky to find ‘kode’ at the Batamaloo market recently.

“I used to buy ‘kode’ for Rs. 20 a piece but now it is hard to find. I had been searching for it for months and recently I found it at Batamaloo. I brought three pieces for Rs.100 but could not find it again when I went there today. ‘Bheja fry’ is served at dhabas and restaurants outside Kashmir and is the favourite dish of many but unfortunately, many have stopped eating it altogether. And those who eat it cannot find it freely,” he said.