Thursday, January 8, 2015

08/01/2015: Farmed Bengali fish are fed on … biryani

--> Freshly cooked or stale, the biryani continues to serve the Bengali taste bud in unexpected ways, the Telegraph India reports.

Much of the fish in Calcutta’s markets owe their allure partly to the truckloads of unsold biryani from Hyderabad’s restaurants that is fed to them in Andhra Pradesh’s aqua farms every day.

“Biryani makes my fish shine and weigh more,” said Dayakar Naidu, a fish breeder from Rajole in coastal East Godavari district.

From a little after midnight till daybreak, a fleet of designated trucks does the rounds of Hyderabad’s 1200-odd eateries that produce about 500 tonnes of biryani every day, albeit a variety different from the one most favoured by Calcuttans.

These trucks, which had brought fish from the coasts to Hyderabad’s markets during daytime, load the leftover biryani, which can reach 50 tonnes, into huge cans cushioned with iceboxes.

They then ferry it 300-400km to the fisheries of Krishna, Guntur and East and West Godavari, which are key suppliers to Calcutta’s fish markets.

Residuary Andhra and newly born Telangana may face potential tussles over the sharing of many resources, but this is one exchange that entertains no shadow of a disagreement.

A plate of biryani (250gm to 350gm) costs 150 to 200 rupees (US$2.37 to US$3.16) while the leftover biryani lightens the fish breeders’ pockets by only about 50 rupees a kg (US$0.79), making it some 12 times or so cheaper.

“The practice started two to three years ago, when the eateries and the fish farms realised they could both profit from it,” a source in a city restaurant said.

Fisheries department officials said that Andhra bred some 160 species of fish: 53 carnivores, 26 herbivores and 81 omnivores. The biryani — basmati rice cooked with meat or chicken and a range of spices — is given only to the carnivores and omnivores.

Andhra’s fish farmers supply some 500 tonnes of rohu and katla, both herbivores, to the eastern states every day. A smaller community of farmers breeds carnivorous and omnivorous fish like the catfish, tilapia, tuna and certain carps.

Naidu, the farmer from Rajole, said the biryani is mixed with other kinds of feed and given to the fish as their afternoon meal.

Another breeder said the carnivorous fish are also fed animal remains from abattoirs, which speed up their growth.

“Fish that normally take 10 to 12 months to reach the necessary weight can do it in eight to ten months if fed animal waste or biryani,” said Ramakrishna Naidu, a fish breeder from Eluru.

The truckers too are happy.

“The fishery owners pay us months in advance,” said Syed Mohammed Sabri, a truck operator who brings fish to Hyderabad’s main fish market and returns with biryani.

Read more HERE.

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