Jain sadhus have started advising their followers to avoid eating naan, kulchas and rumali rotis over concerns that vegetarian restaurants might be usingz eggs to increase the popular breads’ softness and texture.
The spiritual gurus are urging community members to stick to the plain roti if they want to sincerely follow the core Jain principle of ahimsa.
“The plain roti is the best choice,” Hemchandra Surishwarji Maharaj, a Jain sadhu for 43 years, told.
“It has been debated for long whether eggs are vegetarian or non-vegetarian. In our religion, we consider them non-vegetarian food. There is no guarantee that vegetarian restaurants will never use eggs as softening agents for breads.”
Hemchandra maharaj has forwarded messages on the issue to more than 500 followers. Similar chain messages and mails by other leaders are also being circulated in the community.
“As Jains, we walk the path of ahimsa and eating eggs knowingly or unknowingly is simply not right for us,” he said.
Concerns over naan, kulchas and rumali rotis were first raised in the community two months ago when a member circulated a message claiming that even vegetarian restaurants use eggs to prepare the breads. The member said that a chef had revealed the practice to him.
“I then made enquiries and found that the member’s suspicion was not unfounded. I started telling my followers to avoid restaurants. If that is not possible, then they should avoid ordering naan, kulcha and rumali roti,” Hemchandra maharaj said.
Television chef Saransh Goila said that many cooks added eggs to the mixture of the breads to enhance their quality. “But it is not a necessity. A mixture of buttermilk and baking soda gives you the same result,” he said.
Vijayratna Sundar Surishwarji Maharaj, a sadhu for the past 49 years, said that community members had been asked to be cautious as there were considerable doubts over the practices followed by different restaurants.
“Do all vegetarian restaurants stick to the no-egg rule? We don’t know, and that is why we are telling our followers to choose wisely,” Vijayratna Maharaj said.
“Adulteration is another major concern. We are asking community members to think twice before ordering anything while dining out.”
Food writer Vinita Bhatia said that vegetarian restaurants were unlikely to take a risk and add eggs to their preparations. “In our country, religious sentiments are taken very seriously, so it is unlikely that pure vegetarian restaurants will use egg,” she said.
But not everyone is convinced. Kurla resident Ramesh Chheda, a Jain, gave up eating naan, kulchas and rumali rotis after reading a forward on the issue. “I don’t want to do anything that is against my religion,” said Chheda, who is a criminal lawyer.