The famous butter chicken in Ludhiana, immortalised by Pankaj Mishra, has lost its flavour as prices of spices have surged due to a supply crunch from flood-hit Kerala. Prices of some ingredients like cardamom (elaichi), nutmeg (jayphal) and mace (javitri) have seen a whopping 100% jump.
Traders say they do not see any immediate relief from the price spiral as crops in Kerala have been severely hit due to the flood.
Housewives are worried about the rising kitchen budget, especially when the approach of the festive season. They have already restricted use of spices to save on the cost, affecting demand, say retail traders. 'I have bought a small packet (of spices) and kept it reserved for special occasions,' said Sugandha of Kitchlu Nagar. Food preparation, particularly in Punjab is not complete without 'garam masala', a heady mixture of species.
Prices of nutmeg, mace, cardamom, clove and melon seeds have skyrocketed in just a fortnight due to the supply crunch, the traders said. 'More than half of the crop has been damaged in the cardamom-growing districts, as a result their prices have seen an upward revision,' said Siddharth, a retail trader'.
Cardamom, nutmeg and mace, which were earlier sold at Rs 800 per kg in the wholesale market, are now priced up to Rs 1,600 per kg, he said. Melon seeds, which were sold at Rs 500 per kg, are now priced at Rs 800 per kg. Clove is priced at Rs 1,200 per kg, a sudden jump of Rs 200 per kg.
Kishori Lal, a wholesale trader at the Kesarganj market, says prices of other spices have also increased. Dry ginger powder is now available at Rs 250 per kg as against Rs 170 per kg, black pepper at Rs 500 per kg (against Rs 350 per kg) and cinnamon at Rs 250 per kg compared to Rs 180 per kg sometime ago.