This article is a follow up to Is It Safe for Tourists to Eat Beef in India?

Beef is banned in Delhi, but my friends keep telling me it’s possible to find it, so I went out looking.

I started with Google but what most of these articles fail to mention was that when an upmarket place like Chili’s or Lady Baga lists beef on the menu, it’s actually buffalo if you ask them (I did). There’s no chance big restaurants like these would flaunt the law.

Offline, people told me to try around the Nizamuddin Dargah. I passed two drug addicts hiding behind a bed sheet smoking crack as I entered Nizamuddin’s cobblestoned streets. It was a Sufi saint’s birthday today, so everyone was lining up for free kachori and daal. Cute kids, wearing their taqiyas (white caps), were having fun climbing the fence to beat the line.

From the colours, clothes, Urdu writing, and the beautifully shaped windows you know you’re not in a Hindu area anymore.

Kids swimming in an old step well at Nizamuddin. Photo by jacob jung (
Kids swimming in an old step well at Nizamuddin. Photo by jacob jung (

I knew I had to be careful with who I asked about beef (or in Hindi, bada maas literally ‘big meat’). Since Narendra Modi’s BJP Hindu party has been in power, they’ve banned the sale of beef in markets nationwide. This has resulted in many Muslims being beaten or killed by morality policing mobs for eating or carrying beef (usually it’s found to be Buffalo).

Why is BJP focusing their effort on controlling what minorities eat and not more pressing matters? And why is BJP ok with India being one of the world’s largest beef exporters? If you really love the cow, then stop killing them for export too… but you know, $$$$$ over integrity.

The Constitution of India says India is a secular country. I guess BJP missed that with this religious law.

Green and white, the colours of Nizamuddin. Photo by Varun Shiv Kapur (
Green and white, the colours of Nizamuddin. Photo by Varun Shiv Kapur (

Back in Nizamuddin, I had found a quiet restaurant to enjoy some Afghani Chicken and Mutton Biryani. The waiter was friendly and could speak English, so I whispered to him, “Bada mass kaha mileaga?” (Where can I find beef?) He gave a nervous laugh and started looking around. He didn’t speak, he just stood in nervous silence. So I reassured him, “Where I’m from we eat it a lot, and I miss it…”

He took his time to reply, “It’s a big problem for us in Delhi,” referring to the lynchings of beef eaters. “You can only find it in Kerala and West Bengal.” That’s when I realised there was no way anyone, besides a local Muslim friend, was going to tell me where it’s available. It’s too risky. He had to be careful what he said. I felt sorry for having asked him because he was worried.

So the answer is, no there’s no beef in Delhi, especially for an outsider like me. I, like the man I met, wouldn’t want to risk it anyway; carrying buffalo around is risky enough in India!

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