“I am despondent. A truly good burger simply cannot be made with buffalo meat,” says meat-lover Dhiraj Sanghvi, 26, an entrepreneur based in Khar. “The only thing that might taste the same is a ‘well-done’ steak, because then the meat is cooked to that level of toughness anyway.”
Sanghvi says that he will miss his beef cheeseburgers, bulgogi and carpaccio. “Beef carpaccio is made with super tender strips of beef cooked in the acidity of lemon and olive oil,” he says. “It’s impossible to recreate that with the tough, sinewy buffalo meat.”
For fellow foodie Kamini Masturdarh, 34, a Fellow with NGO Teach For India, beef was what she went looking for when dining out, since she didn’t know how to choose good cuts or cook it well at home.
“Most south Asian dishes require the beef to be very tender, as do Japanese-style marinades, and the Italian carpaccio,” she says. “Now, all these will no longer be viable.”
The thin silver lining is that a majority of mid-level restaurants won’t be impacted since they were serving buffalo meat anyway. “What will be impacted will be the high-end restaurants which were importing beef, as well as the poor, who would eat the bull meat that was usually a byproduct of the leather industry,” says Nachiket Shetye, chef at 36 Oak and Barley and co-creator of Restaurant Week. “The truth is, Indian chefs are very good at creating great food with subpar ingredients.”
The ban could impact restaurant entrepreneurship, adds food critic and writer Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi.
“This will become yet another battlefield for chefs and restaurant owners, when it’s already an uphill battle to be in the food and beverage business in this city.”