Saturday

Separate kitchen and plates for vegetarians in hotels

CITHARA PAUL

New Delhi, Feb. 1: Are you a vegetarian who loves dining out? Then the day may be drawing near when you can’t say “I smell something fishy”.

The Federation of Hotels and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has decided to make sure that “pure vegetarian food is essentially pure”.

And before you say it’s just another marketing gimmick, there’s more meat — er, food — for thought.

The federation, which had earlier announced a plan to give discounts to clients who come with their grandparents or senior citizens, says it will insist that vegetarian food be prepared in a separate kitchen by separate chefs.

The FHRAI also plans to direct hotels and restaurants to make sure that vegetarian food is cooked in separate utensils. Even the plates and the cutlery should not be mixed with those served with non-vegetarian dishes, it says.

“Most pure vegetarians cringe at the thought that meat and fish were served on the same plate barely minutes before they were served. If a hotel claims it serves ‘pure vegetarian’ food, it has to be really pure. Hence we have thought about these directives,” FHRAI secretary-general Deepak Sharma said.

The federation, Sharma added, was also planning to insist on a separate enclosure for serving vegetarian food in a restaurant that serves both veg and non-veg dishes.

“Vegans are huge in number and restaurants cannot afford to lose them. Our estimate is that at least 40 per cent of people who frequently dine out are pure vegetarians. Moreover, a good chunk of tourists coming to the country are vegetarians,” he said.

Sources in the hotel and restaurant industry said the number of vegetarians dining out increased during religious festivals like Navratri, sometimes even going up to 70 per cent of the total crowd.

Sharma said the FHRAI was planning a separate grade for hotels that meet the new directives but added that the guidelines would not be made mandatory. However, business compulsions will force restaurants to go really green, he insisted. “According to inputs we get from our state units, the number of those who ask for organic food is increasing all over the country.”

There is a plan to give hotels that prepare food without onion and garlic a separate grading. “It makes good business sense that there is a separate rating for those who offer organic food,” Sharma said.

The FHRAI is planning to initially introduce the new system in select cities. About the earlier decision to give discounts to clients who come with senior citizens, sources said the results from Ludhiana and Pondichery, where the plan has been implemented as a first step, were “encouraging”.

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