20 March 2018 09:50 AM



Ramdev Stirring the Pot Has Put Me Off Khichdi For Ever!

Rashmi Oberoi on the Khichdi controversy

NEW DELHI: PM Modi and gang are always cooking up something… And the ‘Khichdi’ just got thicker!

It looks more of a ‘hotchpotch’ than anything else right now… But in this khichdi controversy what stands out unfortunately for me is the repulsive sight of Baba Ramdev stirring the khichdi pot and that is enough to make me and many others go off eating khichdi forever.

Apparently on the evening of November 4, India made food history by setting a new Guinness World Record. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his team, in partnership with the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, successfully cooked up 918 kilos of khichdi in a massive pot in front of a live audience.

But what stood out and was noticed by many… Including me… Well, was the hairy image and it was such that it hit you smack in the face… The final tempering to the khichdi was given by a rather unkempt Baba Ramdev whose hairy chest and open beard was a sight for sore eyes and the vision of him stirring the pot had many feeling queasy – a rather hairy issue to say the least.

The significant food safety violation was noted by many…any sane person would have noticed it immediately in my view. There is a reason why we have an agency like the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which has established clear guidelines about human hair as per Schedule 4 of their regulations. The regulations clearly state that human hair must be controlled from falling into exposed foods in eateries as well as in food processing and manufacturing plants.

The reason behind this is a report published by the National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development Studies, New Delhi, which indicates that human hair can carry a number of toxic contaminants.

No, it's not just about the disgusting part about finding hair in your food, but also about sanitation and hygiene. Human hair naturally carries protein keratins; and adds sweat, oil, and shampoo residues to this equation, and you have a cocktail for disaster. Human hair is one of the leading physical contaminants in food, along with stones, metal pieces, insect parts, rodent droppings etc. All of these can cause physical harm as well as result in foodborne illnesses like cholera, typhoid, jaundice etc.

Now wasn’t this just a recipe for disaster?? The hairy feat was witnessed by an audience comprising ministers, delegates, ambassadors and foodies. The rather humble khichdi suddenly came into the overbearing bright lights…overnight stardom and the hairy, fraud Baba declaring that “This is India’s gift to the rest of the world.” Well, shiver me timbers!! Ramdev had earlier announced on Twitter he would be at hand to temper the khichdi with his Patanjali ghee. “Swasthya ka naya mantra: Bharat ki Khichdi.” (The new trick to health: India’s khichdi + his hair + his highly suspect product of ghee!).

People have been in a tizzy ever since there were rumours floating around of Khichdi being our national dish and would be promoted as a ‘brand India food’ at a global event. Apparently khichdi is a symbol of unity in diversity as it is a wonder staple food eaten across the country by the rich and the poor.

If that is so, then shouldn’t the government be concentrating more on feeding the poor and ensuring proper nutrition and good health services for all our masses? The government’s lack of clarity in its policies is getting more evident day by day. Knee-jerk reactions and on the spot baffling ideas is what more like it!

I always thought khichdi was comfort food – for the sick…or baby food…or for those days when you felt like eating light… Unless PM Modi realises that our nation is quite sick thanks to his merry band of men/women and their hair-brained schemes and diktats and a dose of khichdi is much required… Then let’s give the devil his due!

It’s the Khichdi King’s own doing of course and he needs to straighten out the hotchpotch he’s created as it is his own doing and it would be best if he fixes things asap!