The bird flu threat over India has raised serious doubts about consumption of chicken in Punjab, commonly known as the land of butter and tandoori chicken. Sales of chicken has already dropped by 30-50% over the past three days.
Punjab is known for its famous chicken tikka butter masala, rated as the most popular dish in the country. The state stands unparalleled in retaining this glory for the past five years. Sadly, there has now been a drastic change in the eating habits of the Punjabi's. The sight of marinated chickens grilled over iron rods in local dhabas no longer appeal to the customers. Sales of roadside eateries in Chandigarh and rest of Punjab has already started to decline.
Mixed reactions have been observed in response to the bird flu outbreak in Maharashtra.
'I don't want to take any chances. It's better to wait for some days rather than be affected by the disease,' said Kulbhushan Sharma, who stays close to one of the city's popular chicken joints. 'There is no reason to be afraid if the chicken is well cooked. Anyways, people are going to eat it. I can't imagine Punjab going chicken-less because of the scare,' said Amar Bedi.
Doctors have warned that cooking of chicken in an earthen oven (tandoor) may not eliminate the associated bird flu risk. It is further recommended that chicken should be cooked to 70°C to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Butter chicken may be more favorable than tandoor chicken as it is cooked at a higher temperature and in hot gravy.
Customers who yield to the temptation are bothered about in finding if the chicken is safe to eat and properly cooked. In response to the above situation, Surjit Singh, general secretary of the North Zone Broiler Breeders Association has stated that there is no reason to worry as chicken in Punjab is well cooked as is completely safe.