The National Museum in Delhi has barred “meat dishes” from being served at the ongoing Historical Gastronomica - The Indus Dinning Experience, an exhibition-cum-event on culinary history, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The event, which is being held on the museum lawn from February 19 to 25, promises to offer India’s ancient food through an “ethno-archaeological kitchen of the Harappan culture”.
The event is jointly organised by the National Museum, the Ministry of Culture and private firm One Station Million Stories. The menu, mentioned in an invitation for online booking as well as publicised on the museum website, included vegetarian and meat dishes. However, on Tuesday, the museum cited unspecified rules and asked the private firm to not serve meat dishes.
Unidentified officials in the Ministry of Culture said that “a couple of MPs” reacted to the menu shared by the ministry online. Additional Director General Subrata Nath confirmed that “meat dishes” have been removed from the menu, but denied any “external interference” in the matter.
“Actually, there is no rule as such,” he told The Indian Express. “But we have to respect the museum’s tradition. So we emailed the private organisers yesterday [Tuesday].”
However, Nath later told ANI that non-vegetarian dishes were never part of the museum’s menu.
The dishes that are no longer available include fish in turmeric stew, quail/fowl/country chicken roasted in Saal leaf, offal’s pot, bati with dry fish, meat fat soup, lamb liver with chick-pea, dried fish and Mahua oil chutney.
The weeklong exhibition will demonstrate how human beings evolved due to food habits, learnt to distinguish edible from non-edible substance, food processing techniques and related architecture of the Harappans. It will also show how climate change continues to define food security, according to PTI.
Nath pinned the blame on One Station Million Stories for putting meat dishes in the menu without discussing it in detail beforehand. “Their Harappan menu is very well researched but they should not have opted for the non-veg dishes,” he said. “In any case, we had a discussion and were able to avoid just in time what could have become an embarrassment.”
When pointed out that other museums do not have such curbs, Nath refused to comment. “This museum has so many idols of gods and goddesses, and a relic of Lord Buddha,” he added. “International dignitaries visit this museum. We have to consider these sensitivities here.”