Warning: If talk of non-traditional Indian foods, offends you, please take your outrage to Twitter
Nothing says Main Street America like strip malls and chain restaurants (see: Applebees, Chilis, Subway, Burger King, McDonalds and so on. During my pre-FOB days (mid to late 90s), McDonalds was the new “in thing” in India. Heck, one of my farewell parties was at the Mickey D’s on Linking Road in Bandra, Mumbai.My next brush with American chain restaurants in Mumbai was in ‘06, a Subway and a *bleeping* Ruby Tuesday in Mumbai. Apparently, this was just the beginning of a trend. [WaPo]
The picture (left top) was taken during my October 2010 trip to India, and if you click on it, it opens up in a larger image that shows the menu pricing in Indian Rupees. Have fun converting.
NEW DELHI – A group of hungry college students crowded around the newest food stall in an upscale market here: the American Hotdog Factory. Its sign proudly announced, “real American hotdogs for the first time in India.” But these “hawdawgs” – the Indian pronunciation – aren’t exactly what they would find on the streets of New York or at ballpark concession stands across America. Where’s the beef? The only concession here is to Indian tastes. Cows are considered holy by many Hindus, India’s majority religion. So the top-selling item at this stand is the “American Desi,” a mushy, green log of spicy potatoes, soy beans, peas, garlic, chillies and onions held together by a fat hot-dog bun and topped with raw onions and thick mayo chutney.
My first reaction is to drool, masala bhaji in a hoy dog bun with mayo chutney, brilliant! Like I mentioned earlier, if non-traditional desi food is not your thing, outrage on Twitter.
So, what other American chain restaurants have crossed over to the good side and what else is on their menu?
Subway’s six-inch Veg Shammi, a kebab made of lentils, garlic and onion.
Cinnabon, offers an eggless Indian sticky bun,
Starbucks said its offerings would include many local and American treats, such as samosas next to muffins and spicy chai alongside skinny cappuccino.
But not all restaurants have switched their menus to exclusive Indian versions, TGI Friday’s, for instance.
“They have to buy into the culture before they will buy the food,” Rohan Jetley, vice president for marketing for TGI Friday’s, said from a plush booth at his flagship restaurant. The room was filled with decorative Americana: a bust of Elvis, a “Charlie’s Angels” movie poster, a surfboard, a disco ball and a statue of a U.S. astronaut.
Jetley’s insistence on keeping the food authentically American has made him a maverick in India. He even flies in official tasters from the TGI Friday’s Dallas headquarters to make sure its signature Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce tastes the same in Bangalore as it does in Baltimore.
So next time you’re in India and, for some weird reason, have the yearning for American food, try TGI Friday’s.