There’s curry – and there’s M&S curry: Indian food writers’ outrage at meal kits

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‘Cultural appropriation’ claims over Marks & Spencer products, said to be based on traditional recipes

When Marks & Spencer introduced Indian ready meals to British supermarkets in 1981, few might have predicted that the pioneers of mass-market tikka masala would one day be called out for creating dishes “bastardised to the point that they are unrecognisable”. Yet the Indian food writer Mallika Basu, author of Indian Cooking for Modern Living, says M&S’s curry kits are “at best upsetting, and at worst, offensive and callous”.

Basu caused a stir last week after she tweeted from an M&S food hall: “I grew up in Bengal, head back regularly and I have no idea what Bengali Turmeric Curry is. With celery seeds, tamarind and coconut no less. Can someone please enlighten me?” She also had harsh words for the Punjabi Pilau Kit. “What nonsense…” she wrote. “My dead grandmother just turned in her grave.”

I grew up in Bengal, head back regularly and I have no idea what Bengali Turmeric Curry is. With celery seeds, tamarind and coconut no less.

Can someone please enlighten me? pic.twitter.com/YVNuS6ccqK

Related: The Guardian view on food cultures: sharing, not snatching | Editorial

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