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National Museum drops non-veg dishes from food menu of event thanks to ‘sentimental’ reasons

NEW DELHI: Non-vegetarian food has been dropped from the menu of the National Museum's week-long exhibition-cum-event on India's culinary history, Historical Gastronomica, thanks to an "unwritten policy" supported "sentiments", a senior official of the museum said on Thursday.

The organisers came under attack after the event's menu comprising non-vegetarian dishes was put abreast of the museum's website. Shortly afterwards, it had been decided that only vegetarian food would be served at the exhibition which can get on till February 25.

The food event is being organised jointly by the National Museum, the Ministry of Culture and One Station Million Stories (OSMS), a personal firm.

The additional director general of the museum Subrata Nath told PTI that OSMS didn't discuss intimately the non-vegetarian a part of the menu with the museum officials. "They (OSMS) got our approval but the non-vegetarian a part of the menu wasn't discussed with us. We assumed that they might know that we don't serve non-veg food here given the policy of the institution. Just 10 days back we had a Nanak festival and that we never had this controversy," Nath said.

"It (non-veg food items) was on the location for each day and that we withdrew it as soon as we realised the difficulty ," Nath added. However, Nath said that the "policy" of not serving non-vegetarian dishes wasn't a written one, but a "sentimental one".

"The museum is filled with idols of several gods and goddesses, we've to respect the emotions of the people that visit us. We cannot serve non-vegetarian food here. it's an unwritten policy supported sentiments which we thought they (OSMS) knew," said Nath.

When asked if this was straying from the culinary history of ancient India where non-vegetarian dishes were common, Nath said that visitors will just not be served the food, but are going to be briefed on them. "We aren't serving the non-vegetarian food, but we'll brief visitors on the historical dietary practises of ancient India, so it's wrong to mention that we aren't giving a real picture of the food in past ," he said.

Some of the non-vegetarian dishes on offer were 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.

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