Guess what is discarded as waste in India and shipped thousands of miles to land up as a delicacy on dining tables in China? Chicken feet!
The feet, claws and all, as a gastronomical delight might sound comical to Indians who relish chicken legs but definitely nothing below. But hatcheries in Mangalore have found a thriving market for it in places like China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. A prominent hatchery in this coastal town in Karnataka exports 25 tonnes of chicken feet to the Far East every month.
Popularly known as phoenix talons in China, chicken feet is sold as street food, often deep fried, in other parts of Asia as well. It is a culinary delicacy in some regions, most notably in China and South Africa where every part of the bird is utilized to its fullest potential.
Lester D’Souza, managing partner of Souza Hatcheries, told TOI that they had started exports last year, though inquiries were made four years back. “Last year, a person came here, looked at the hatchery and gave us the specifications for the product to be exported,” he said. Neatly cut and cleaned without using detergent or chemicals, the chicken feet are shipped out in freezer units used for fish exports, once a month to China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Chinese restaurants in India don’t use chicken feet simply because desi palates can’t take claws on the plate. When asked, they said they never used feet for stock and they get their chicken meat without feet.