SRINAGAR: Indians are known to burn effigies of politicians who are out of favour. But Jammu today broke new grounds with an effigy of a momo — Tibetan dumplings that have become a hugely popular street food.
Carrying an effigy with the bizzare message “Momo kills slowly” written on it, Jammu’s BJP legislator Ramesh Arora solemnly marched down street with a dozen followers this morning. The effigy of momo was then burnt with all ceremony.
Mr Arora had first made news with his warnings about momos a couple of weeks ago. That time, he had called it a “health hazard”. In the intervening weeks, the danger level of momos appears to have gone up.
So how the dumplings — which are flour casings stuffed with chicken, prawns or vegetables and mostly steamed can be fatal to humans? Turns out that the legislator’s real objection is not to momos per se, but MSG or monosodium glutamate, which, he thinks, is added to the stuffing to enhance taste.
Ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate) used in the recipe for making Momos to enhance its taste is harmful to health and can even cause cancer. They have been found to be the root cause of several life-threatening diseases,” Mr Arora was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
A couple of decades ago, a pinch of MSG, widely known as ajinomoto, was a must-add in Chinese cuisine, whether it was cooked in restaurants or at home. But its use dwindled after it came be widely believed that the chemical carried health risks.
The website on Food Safety Helpline run by the food safety regulator FSSAI says, “It is popularly believed that large doses of MSG can cause headaches, nausea and other feelings of discomfort collectively known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, although controlled studies have failed to identify such symptoms. The USFDA, the premier regulatory body in USA, considers MSG to be “generally recognized as safe”.