In India, do as Indians do. No one takes that adage more seriously than fast food companies, whipping up outlandish combinations. We have Murg Hindustani pizza (Papa John’s, with tandoori chicken, fresh red onions and tandoori sauce) and Paneer Tikka and Chicken Tikka subs (Subway).
I don’t like the sound of these, but hey, everyone else is lovin’ it! With 162 outlets in India, McDonald’s perhaps best exemplify fastfood trends. And it is clearly taking India’s ‘Our taste in your shape’ philosophy very seriously.
The outlets are not just serving aloo tikkis between burger buns but also including an idli variant — steamed veggie muffins — in their new breakfast platter. That McAloo Tikki burger is McDonald’s all-time bestselling burger in India surprised me, but not the company, says Vikram Bakshi, managing director (North and East), McDonald’s India. “People want local flavours and taste, so we kept a few iconic global products like the Big Mac, Fillet-o-Fish and Fries, but 70 per cent of our menu is Indian. The menu is the same across India, with vegetarian burgers being more popular than the non-veg, except in Punjab, where 65 per cent people prefer chicken burgers to veggie,” he adds.
India’s not alone in its obsession with all flavours local. Japan has shrimp burgers, shrimp nuggets and a green-tea milkshake, while Norway has grilled salmon and dill sauce burger and Israel has meat in a pita bread roll.
What we don’t have are McDonald’s healthy platters, which the company has no plans for introducing in the near future, too. So its premium salads — such as Fruit and Walnut Salad in yoghurt, California Cobb Salad (with grilled or crispy chicken), Caesar Salad or Bacon Ranch Salad — will remain only on Western menus. “Currently there is no market for it here. In India, people like the food served hot, so that’s what is served and sells well To make people more health
conscious, we plan to put the calorie counts of a food on its wrappings soon,” says Bakshi.
The goodnews is that we’re not likely to see McCounters in school canteens — “The food has to be made fresh and served hot, so it’s not possible” — so I guess the next best thing is that a pack of large fries that gives you the same amount of calories (see box) as a meal (an adult sedentary women needs 1,600 calories daily; a sedentary man needs 2,000 calories). So, if you get a Chicken McGrill and large fries, skip lunch and the teatime snack and you’ll do fine.