LUCKNOW: An Indian vendor makes kebabs made from beef at the Tundey Kebabi restaurant yesterday. - AFP

LUCKNOW, India: An Indian restaurant has resumed sales of the beef kebabs it has been making for more than a century, two months after being forced to take the famous dish off the menu under pressure from Hindu hardliners. Tundey Kebabi in Uttar Pradesh had been unable to source the meat for its best-loved dish for two months after the appointment of a Hindu nationalist politician as leader of the northern state.

Yogi Adityanath took office in March promising tougher penalties for slaughterhouses operating without a licence and for slaughtering cows, which Hindus regard as sacred. A resulting police crackdown led to the state's meat-producing industry grinding to a virtual halt - even though most businesses were producing beef using buffalo rather than cow meat. For two months, Tundey Kebabi was forced to use chicken or goat meat - to the horror of its loyal customers.

But last week a court ordered the government to resume issuing the licenses that slaughterhouses require to operate legally, breaking the logjam. "I am very happy we are finally selling what we are known for," Abu Bakr, who runs Tundey Kebabi, told AFP. "It is business as usual for us." Customers have flocked to the restaurant since sales restarted this week. "I left the office a little early and went straight to Tundey's yesterday," said Salman Ahmed Siddiqui, who works in the finance industry. "I cannot express in words the sense of relief and satisfaction I had after eating those kebabs after almost two months."

The 112-year-old restaurant has had to put its prices up slightly as the supply remains lower than before, but says its signature dish is unchanged. "There was no point in having mutton or chicken kebabs at Tundey's, but now when the authentic beef kebabs are back, I will certainly visit," said local housewife Viti Kumar. - AFP