Rare all-black chicken breed could find big market in UAE, says Indian minister

Protein-rich, GI-tagged Kadaknath could be a rage in the region, says Madhya Pradesh minister


Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Mon 6 Dec 2021, 11:03 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Dec 2021, 12:52 PM

A nutrition-packed all-black chicken from the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh could soon stimulate the taste buds of residents in the UAE.

A government delegation from Madhya Pradesh is already in Dubai to explore, among other things, the possibility of exporting their indigenous protein-rich chicken variety called Kadaknath to the UAE.

The gothic bird is jet black, originally reared by tribal communities in the state's Jhabua and Dhar districts. From comb to claw, every bit of this chicken is the colour of cosmos – even its bones and internal organs.

The cause of the chicken's blackness is a genetic condition known as fibromelanosis, which is caused by a mutation that affects how pigment-producing cells work.

Kadaknath is one of just three black chicken breeds worldwide. The other two are Silkie from China and Cemai from Indonesia.

However, unlike its famous cousins, which are hailed as 'super birds' and command astronomical prices, Kadaknath languished in obscurity until 2014 when it was plucked to stardom by culinary historian Ashish Chopra who showcased Kadaknath dishes at a festival of lost recipes in Delhi.

Since then, the black-featured beauty has become a roaring hit, selling for Rs1,200 (Dh58) per kilogram in certain Indian cities.

The Madhya Pradesh government hopes the native bird will many takers in the UAE considering its penchant for luxury gourmet cuisine. "Kadaknath could become a huge rage in Gulf countries, including the UAE. The prized bird even has a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. So yes, we are indeed looking to introduce it to the UAE," said Rajvardhan Singh, the state's minister for industrial policy and investment promotion.


Singh spoke to Khaleej Times in Dubai on Saturday, after launching the Madhya Pradesh Week at Expo2020 Dubai on December 3.

He said Kadaknath not just tastes great but also has immense health benefits.

The claim is not unfounded. Independent studies suggest the rare chicken breed has 25 per cent more protein than regular chicken.  It has around 18 amino acids, many of which are essential to the human body.  Low in cholesterol, Kadaknath meat is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as C, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, calcium, phosphorus and iron. It is also said to improve libido.  The eggs of the Kadaknath chicken, too, have myriad health benefits.

Making a strong pitch for Madhya Pradesh as an attractive investment destination, Singh said they seek new opportunities across critical sectors, including textiles, automobiles, food processing, and pharmaceuticals.  "Our agriculture sector has registered an average growth of 20 per cent for the past five years. We have a favourable ecosystem for agriculture production and related businesses," said Singh.

Sanjay Kumar Shukla, principal secretary at the state's department of industrial policy and investment promotion, Madhya Pradesh has many advantages as it is located in the geographic heart of India.  "Nearly 450 trains crisscross through our state. We also have an abundance of technical and skilled workforce to support various industries," he said

The Madhya Pradesh Week runs until December 9.

Did you know?

Former Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has ventured into the poultry business with 2,000 Kadaknath chicken at his sprawling farm in Ranchi, Jharkhand, in eastern India.

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