Marks and Spencer has been accused of cultural appropriation over its vegan biryani wrap.
The wrap, which costs £2.80 and is part of the supermarket’s new Plant Kitchen range, is made out of sweet potato, spiced basmati rice, buckwheat and roasted red pepper.
A top chef and an Indian restaurant are among those to describe it as inauthentic on social media.
“Thanks but I like my biryani with rice in a bowl not a wrap. Seriously M&S!?” wrote Maunika Gowardhan, author of the cookbook Indian Kitchen.
The Mumbai-born chef went on to argue that M&S’s offering completely went against the traditions of Indian cuisine, given that biryanis typically contain either meat or fish.
“Just to put it in perspective, in India firstly there is no such thing as a veg biryani,” she told The Times.
“Most places will serve mutton or chicken or even fish. It’s wrong on many levels when people will assume this is what a biryani looks like! Biryani needs rice, isn’t stuffed in bread and doesn’t include lettuce.”
She added that biryani is a dish, not a flavour.
Her comments were echoed by a spokesperson for Darjeeling Express, an Indian restaurant in Soho, London, who tweeted: “This is so wrong at SO many levels — who are you paying to design your wraps @marksandspencer?
“You seriously need to rethink your ‘exotic’ wrap selection. That is not biryani — you do not appropriate names from a cuisine without even bothering to do any research on that dish.”
Other social media users accused the supermarket of misspelling, given that the wrap is being marketed as a “Sweet Potato Biriyani”.
“Biryani – how is this a biryani?” wrote one person on Twitter.
“How have @marksandspencer managed not only to mess up the spelling, but make a biryani without rice and meat? IT NEEDS MEAT! Just because you put a sauce in it that maybe tastes like a ‘generic curry’, doesn’t mean you can call it what you like!”
Another person said they were “just confused” by the wrap, writing on Twitter: “What part of this is biryani? Biryani is a rice based dish, traditionally with meat that most certainly doesn’t have sweet potato, so it’s not right on any level???”
Responding to the criticisms, an M&S spokesperson 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.”
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