Britain's retail giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) has been accused of “lazy product development” by some leading Indian food experts in the UK after a new vegetarian biryani wrap hit the market as part of its Plant Kitchen range. M&S was accused of using popular terminology to suit its marketing without proper research, with Indian food experts taking to social media to point out that biryani comes in a bowl and not in a wrap.
Mallika Basu, UK-based author of 'Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living' said, “I started the row last year with the ridiculous Bengali Turmeric Kit by M&S so it's good to see more food writers and chefs getting involved in this debate.” The row was triggered when another Indian-origin chef in the UK, Maunika Gowardhan, took to Twitter to slam the new wrap.
“There is a giant post-colonial hangover hovering over the Western view of Indian food anyway, but it's simply not good enough to be commercialising our flavours and historically significant dishes without proper research and due diligence. Hopefully, this will send a loud and strong warning to other retailers and businesses. The Indian community is not going to take lazy product development lightly.” Gowardhan, author of 'Indian Kitchen', tweeted, “Thanks but I like my biryani with rice in a bowl not a wrap. Seriously M&S!?”
She questioned, “No problem with a twist! Call it an Indian Spiced burrito but please don't make assumptions that using Indian terms loosely doesn't imply the dish does require certain ingredients to feature in them. Let's just call hot water tea then shall we.” Other chefs however, jumped to the defence of the retailer saying it was responding to demands for vegetarian options with the Sweet Potato Biryani wrap. Marks & Spencer said, “M&S is famous for its food innovation and our developers use a fusion of different flavours and ingredients to create an exciting range of products to appeal to customers' tastes.”