A BJP lawmaker in Jammu has now declared war on the Momo—the king of street food which is giving a tough fight to other street foods in several cities in the north.
MLC Ramesh Arora calls the dumplings both addictive and dangerous and believes they need to be banned immediately. “Our teenagers are getting addicted to the dumplings like drugs. It’s spoiling their health. We have to stop it,” Arora preaches emphatically in public functions.
He also seems to be wary of “foreigners including Bangladeshi and Burmese” engaged in the business of making and selling momos, adding an element of xenophobia to his campaign.
Arora even organised a seminar on the subject in Jammu which was attended by senior members of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, doctors and academics besides officials from the municipal corporation, Drug and Food Control department and the district administration.
Arora’s dislike for the dumpling apparently stems from his belief that Ajinomoto, the salt used in momos, is not only harmful but dangerous. “Momo is a killer and we cannot allow a killer to grow in a civilised society. Ajinomoto is dangerous for health,” he maintains.
Ajinomoto however is used in oriental food all over the world and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that regulates and supervises food and drugs in the United States claims on its website (www.fda.gov) that the controversial Ajinomoto— trade name for the company’s original monosodium glutamate (MSG) product—is “generally recognised as safe”.
Momo, which is native to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim state and Darjeeling district of India, is similar to Chinese baozi and jiaozi, Mongolian buuz, Japanese gyoza and Korean mandu.
In India, many believe that Indian Gujia provided inspiration for momos as Buddhist scholars from Tibet and China would travel to Nalanda University for higher education.
But momo today has become more Indian with its several versions such as fried-in-tandoor, curry-fied, stuffed-with-paneer, aloo, or simply cabbage dished out as vegetarian momos.
Maintaining that momo has probably travelled the farthest of all foods, a NDTV blog post about the journey of Momo: “One of the ways this percolation could have happened is through the Monpa and Sherdukpa tribes of Arunachal Pradesh”.
Another explanation is that when Tibetans left their homeland in the 1960s, they brought their food, culture, and lifestyle along with them to India. As they settled in the hill towns of West Bengal and the North-Eastern states, momos were not only accepted gradually but also were relished in these places.”
Closer home in Jammu and Kashmir, momo is staple food in Ladakh region, where it is stuffed with the seasonally chopped mutton. Another theory says that momo entered Jammu due to Nepal royals’ connection with rulers and Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, a picture of local MP and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh wherein he is seen gobbling down momos—apparently somewhere outside Jammu and Kashmir—has become a fodder for humour on social media. Referring to the picture of union minister, many quipped if momos act as killers in Jammu only?