KHICHDI BE­COMES FOD­DER FOR DE­BATE ON SO­CIAL ME­DIA

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - AYE­SHA SINGH @ New Delhi

Har­sim­rat Badal said her in­ten­tion was to re­place ‘curry’ with khichdi as the quin­tes­sen­tial In­dian dish

The move threw so­cial me­dia into a frenzy, with some even ask­ing: “Do I have to stand up when I eat khichdi now that it is a na­tional dish?”

IT’S not of­ten that a com­mon man’s food be­comes fod­der for de­bates on so­cial me­dia. But that’s ex­actly what the hum­ble khichdi has done these past few days.

A day af­ter Union Food Pro­cess­ing Minister Har­sim­rat Kaur Badal chris­tened khichdi as the Brand In­dia Food on Novem­ber 1, it be­gan top­ping Twit­ter trends and be­came a much-searched word on the In­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to Google Trends. Heated de­bates started on the el­e­vated sta­tus sum­mar­ily thrust on the dish as well as the point and rel­e­vance of do­ing so.

But as this khichdi was cook­ing, Ex­press was left won­der­ing whether an over-am­bi­tious at­tempt had been made to de­fine In­dia, a land of over 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple with widely vary­ing taste buds, by a sin­gle dish.

UNION food pro­cess­ing minister Har­sim­rat Kaur Badal’s an­nounce­ment set off a flurry of heated de­bates, un­end­ing spec­u­la­tion and con­flict­ing opin­ions over the culi­nary iden­tity of In­dia and the uni­lat­eral at­tempt to de­fine its food by just one dish — Khichdi.

Re­gard­less, khichdi basked in its new-found glory as the PM in­au­gu­rated World Food In­dia on Novem­ber 3.

In the last few days, khichdi has pos­si­bly been spo­ken of more than it has been eaten.

“While I en­joy khichdi, to make it a Brand In­dia dish is an over­es­ti­ma­tion. It is a cer­tainly a com­fort food, but not In­dia’s favourite com­fort food. Such gen- er­al­iza­tions are in­ac­cu­rate and take away from our plu­ral­is­tic essence,” said Gau­rav Pathan, a rice mill worker whose fac­tory is on the out­skirts of Delhi, near Soni­pat.

So­cial me­dia, mean­while, went on over­drive. “Khichdi to be na­tional dish. Why? Is the na­tion ill?” said one. An­other said, “Do I have to stand up when I eat khichdi now that it is a na­tional dish?” was an­other. “Why khichdi? I would want aloo me­thi to fi­nally get its due.”

Raju Mo­ha­p­a­tra, a di­a­mond sorter in Karol Bagh, said, “I don’t un­der­stand how one per­son in power sud­denly gets up and starts de­cid­ing things on be­half of the whole coun­try. Was there a poll, a study… any­thing done to con­clude that khichdi is the most-liked com­fort food?”

Two days af­ter el­e­vat­ing the khichdi from a sick man’s food to a na­tional del­i­cacy, Har­sim­rat said her in­ten­tion was to re­place the ‘curry’ with khichdi as the quin­tes­sen­tial In­dian dish.

But isn’t re­plac­ing one dish by an­other fatu­ous? “In a few years, khichdi will be­come the new curry. Will we once again think of some­thing new?” asked San­tosh Ku­mar, a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive with an elec­tron­ics com­pany.

“It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that the dish doesn’t re­main in its hum­ble form in ev­ery re­gion, and there­fore, can­not be the sta­ple. Besides, has ev­ery­one for­got­ten that dal, a main com­po­nent of khichdi, is of­ten out of the reach of the poor?” asked Ku­mar.

“Khichdi has united In­dia in ge­o­graph­i­cal ex­panse with its flavour and recipes through dy­nas­ties and is def­i­nitely one of the most loved dishes in In­dia and the world record only aims at mak­ing it pop­u­lar on an in­ter­na­tional level. There­fore, its dec­la­ra­tion as the Brand In­dia food is fair,” said chef San­jeev Kapoor.

I don’t un­der­stand how one per­son in power sud­denly gets up and starts de­cid­ing things on be­half of the whole coun­try. Was there a poll, a study… any­thing done to con­clu­sion re­gard­ing? Raju Mo­ha­p­a­tra, a di­a­mond sorter in Karol Bagh

SHEKHAR YA­DAV

A Guin­ness world record was set in New Delhi on Saturday, when 918 kg khichdi was cooked by a team of 50 peo­ple led by celebrity chef San­jeev Kapoor |

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