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Cuisine row 2.0: Chef Sanjay Raina calls out television stars for distorting Kashmiri ‘Nadru Yahkni’

Srinagar: Forget vegetarian ‘wazwan’, Kashmiri ‘Nadru Yahkni’ is at the heart of the controversy after television stars cooked the iconic dish without yogurt on a television channel.

Celebrity chef Sanjay Raina has called out Epic Channel and television stars after a clip of distorted Nadru Yakhni went viral.  In the show, television star Sakshi Tanwar of ‘Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii’ and ‘Bade Achhe Lagte Hain’ fame is seen preparing ‘Nadru Yakhni‘ without yogurt.

“Anyone who can make Kashmiri Yakhni without yogurt can only be a magician, and than top it up with a pyaz ka tadka. As if the #VegetarianWazwan saga wasn’t enough for us. Spare the cuisine or research and get it right before you televise this. You made a joke of it,” Chef Sanjay tweeted.

Chef Sanjay has posted a video of the original `Nadru Yakhni’ to prove his point about the original recipe of the iconic Kashmiri dish. “When one is being specific about a region and its cuisine, then the word doesn’t remain generic. Yakhni in Kashmiri cuisine is only used as Yakhni. It is perfectly ok to call a spade a spade instead of just letting it pass on. People watch and learn from TV channels,” he said.

Talking to The Kashmir Monitor, Chef Sanjay said it is not about Pandit or Muslim cuisine, it is about Kashmiri food. “When you twist Kashmir cuisine it hurts me a lot. They have messed it up. First, it was vegetarian wazwan and now Epic Channel is cooking Nadru Yakhni without yogurt,” he said.

Chef Sanjay, who is credited with popularizing Kashmir cuisine across the world, said Epic Channel had chosen Hareth (Mahashivratri) to cook Nadru Yakhni. “Little did they know that Kashmiri Pandits eat fish on Hareth,” he said.

The celebrity chef said people have been distorting cuisines of every region and they get away with it. “If I have to cook, say a Bengali dish, I will go to Google or Facebook to find out authentic Bengali chefs. His dish will be authentic and 99 percent close. But here everybody is doing something without any research or expertise,” he said.

Chef Sanjay said it is very important to point it out so that people realize that it is not authentic cuisine. “People learn from television. If we do not point it out now, three years down the line we may have to live with the fact that Yakhni can be prepared with yogurt. We need to create awareness,” he said.He is not alone in flagging the channel for distorting the dish. Several Kashmiris have joined the chorus to pinpoint the distortion.
“I don’t like being a Food/ Recipe Nazi! But I believe that traditions of dishes should be respected. I’m all for tweaking recipes and experimenting, but this is a bit of a curveball. TV channels truly need more research AND a Kashmiri Pandit food consultant,” tweeted Chef Sandeep Pandit, MasterChef Australia Contestant 2019.

The fresh row comes weeks after filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri tried to give multi-course mutton Wazwan a vegetarian twist.  “Nobody knows how to make a vegetarian Wazwan in Kashmir. But I am here to bring about a change. #TheKashmirFiles,” he tweeted only to receive a social media backlash