Kolkata: To digest heartily the contributions of Dr B V Rao, the parent of organised poultry farming, November 16 is celebrated as National Chicken Day in India. While tempted to dive romantically into some glorious dishes, from plates old and new, I will actually settle my thoughts on the connected palate of diversity.
Persuasive data points suggest that over 70% of Indians are technically non-vegetarian, confirmed by Swiggy's validation of chicken biryani being the most ordered dish. But observationally, we do know many friends and colleagues who can't bear the sight, forget bite, of the fleshy matter. Yet a certain equilibrium has gradually emerged in hybrid tables, which leads to cohesive coexistence and subleasing a valuable lesson.
Leading this task of adhesion is the boneless chicken ensemble, whether Chinese, Italian or Tandoori. The dismemberment of the limbs offers spontaneous visual equality, feeling no different from soya or even paneer. Thus, offering an acceptable environment for even the most die-hard naysayers, the odourless construction further aids the integration. Over time, a few courageous souls are tempted to try a bit, usually after a prodding tipple, and soon became OOH (out of home) 'chickenatarians', breaking a significant cultural barrier.
Being a unifier of tables is perhaps a superordinate role of the chicken, free range or caged, but it serves a routine purpose as the default non-veg, HCF or LCM as per your selection. This is true for airlines, canteens, jails, food courts and most other cauldrons of mass and selective creation, as it comes without the complexities of fish, an acquired taste, and the perils of red meat, for health alarms and religious variances. Its diversity in application makes it an effortless integrator for noodles, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, curries, kebabs, bakes and so much more - smoothly enhancing the foundation flavours.
It is also a learned hunch that this recent affection for plant-based meats may well have a connection to the formats of chicken consumption, replicated sharply in these rather overpriced innovations. While this faux experience is designed to fuel denial for non-veg, it may actually act as a decoy instigator as a few may be tempted to turn the tide. Especially those interested in bashing preservatives, surely a significant territorial nuisance for packaged products.
But as we celebrate the feats of the founder of Venky's (Dr Rao), the chicken lobby must invest in some further innovations to aid greater adoption. The live murder of the bird in most local outlets is both gruesome and unhygienic, and this must happen out of eyesight, as in the case of goats. A serious analysis of antibiotics boosting the bird's weight must be commissioned, with acceptable alternatives implemented.
Prices vary quite like stock markets and a control regime must be put in place, to ensure its permanent occupancy in middle-class budgeting. Furthermore, healthier formats must be conceptualized to engage with early users, potentially vegetarian, and packaging technologies can surely help. Also, quite the NECC campaign on eggs, a similar exercise with cross-cultural influencers may be useful, to help folks bridge the nutritional gaps.
Just recently when England lifted the T20 crown, the customary spraying of champagne was deferred by moments, to permit Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to be part of the team photo and then leave the stage. As societies get both multicultural as well as sensitive, the need for viable equilibrium will catapult and this is a role that can be performed splendidly by chicken, inspiring arenas beyond dining eventually.
In Maharashtra, today's chicken prices have been lowered as a celebratory gesture, while in your city the Licious premium may still persist. Either way do consider munching a juicy chunk with fellows who will lovingly indulge and or simply observe, as chicken fulfils its potential as an inspired unifier, driven by choice. Not quite the green or white revolutions in scale, but the pink evolution is rather remarkable as well.