In India, Momos have become the street delicacy King, served with spicy red chutney and thick creamy delectable mayonnaise. There is no denying the fact that these Tibetan dumplings are the most cherished street snack across northern and eastern India.
In Delhi, the momos makers start their preparation with fine chopped vegetables, shredded chicken and sliced paneer pieces. Chanakyapuri, Lajpat Nagar, Majnu Ka Tila and Chirag Dilli Village are amongst the well-known places in the city and emerging as a ‘momo hub’ for their customers. Earnings of thousands of natives’ depend on making and selling of their daily plates of momos. “I daily put up my stall around 6pm, whatever I earned from this small business, it helps me to send some to my family living in Manipur but the fear of MCD workers who take away our stalls keep frightening us,” Said Ram Kesari, 32, who has been selling momos for years in Paharganj.
He further said, last month while frying momos, a scooter hit my stall and the hot burning oil on gas felt over my body due to which my lower body got scalded, therefore risk of life is also involved.
But the recent announcement by the BJP MLC in Jammu and Kashmir Ramesh Arora, seems to creating a hole in the pockets of several momos sellers like Ram Kesari. According to Arora, momo is a Chinese food, posing dangerous health implications for its consumers and so far, it has negatively influenced our Indian food culture.
While speaking to media, he said, “Makers use an extensive amount of tastemaker ingredient called monosodium glutamate, commonly known as ajinomoto, which is added while stuffing momos. This ingredient makes consumers addictive and it has been researched and found out that these dumplings are more dangerous than alcohol and drugs.
On June 4, Arora and his supporters even organised a seminar attended by officials from the Food and Drug Control Department, doctors, district administration officials, academicians, businessmen, etc., along with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, all of whom, who he claims, agreed that momo are indeed dangerous for consumption. The other important factor is, we cannot be 100% sure about the hygiene with which the food is prepared by the vendors. Mostly the vegetables and chicken used for making momos are stale and not washed properly.
He also said that even the ‘desi namak’ couldn’t be a substitute of ajinomoto. Even doctors and dieticians believe that food items which are deep-fried made from bleached maida are not good for health; they can be had in moderate measures of around once a week.
In a study, it was also found that these bleaching chemicals cause a lot of harm to the pancreas, hampering the insulin-production capability of the organ. In a laboratory testing, bleaching agents were able to cause diabetes in the rodents.
Arora’s reasoning against momo is also hygiene. “The refined flour used in making the foods is unhygienic and that it is just steamed makes it difficult to be digested. There have been several cases when doctors have had to operate upon youths for 25-30 times to cure an intestinal problem,” he said. “Our food culture did not just develop overnight. It takes hundreds of years to develop a food culture and these Chinese foods have been trying to destroy that from the past 30 years or so,” the BJP legislator said.
According to his surveys and experiments, Chinese foods aggravate mild headaches to migraines, results in intestinal colitis in which the lining of the large intestine and the rectum gets inflamed. He is happy that the sale of momo has now gone down by 30-35 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir and inspite of momos people are now selling nutri-kulchas.
Dieticians are now considering Indian chaat as a healthy option because it has protein, curd and fruits.
An upsetting fact was revealed by a study conducted by Institute of Hotel Management Catering and Nutrition, Pusa. It showed that most of the Delhi street food, particularly, samosas, golgappas, burgers and momos contain ‘faecal matter’ and these bacteria are responsible for causing diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, typhoid and severe food poisoning.
So, it’s not right to say that only ‘Chinese food’ is bad for health because many Indian delicacies starting from samosa to bhature have affected human health negatively, if they are eaten regularly.
Ban on momo is not justified because eating fast food once in a while doesn’t have bad impact on health. But if your momos consumption exceeds thrice a week, that too without exercising for an hour then it must have turned disastrous for your health.
And yes!, if you’re a lover of momos, then the best option is to find a fine restaurant which serves good quality food and if not then you better prepare them at home without using ajinomoto.