Almost every time we think about Fast Food, American chain restaurants come to mind. Fast food restaurants have been springing up across the world for decades now and are an integral part of the culinary scene in most countries. In India, the fast food industry has had a hard time getting going because most people had their own way of cooking and were not ready to change their habits. But nowadays, the industry is growing rapidly as more and more people (especially among the youth) become passionate about fast food.
International chains such as McDonald’s, have adapted their menu to the Indian populace’s taste in order to thrive. They spiced their dishes up, added more vegetarian options and adapted their prices to the population’s regular cost of living. Certainly, Indians have developed a taste for western-style fast food but they have different sensitivities so the chains have to “Indianise” themselves.
Doing so, McDonald’s took into account that Indians don’t eat beef or pork because of their religion or beliefs, hence the creation of special dishes including the McSpicy (a spicy paneer burger), the McVeggie (speaks for itself) and Aloo Tikki (North Indian snack).
That’s all very well and thoughtful but people might wonder why they should eat spiced up versions of western food when they have Indian fast food offering Asian dishes. Indeed, reviews of the McSpicy suggest that it is not that spicy for the Indian palette. So what about home-grown alternatives?
Traditionally in India, fast food can be found on the road side and most of the outlets in India are independent establishments not chains or franchises.
But still, some chains are quite famous such as Darshini. In the mid-80’s, Darshini was set up in Bangalore City. People have to eat while standing and they have to buy a coupon before eating. Today there are more than 5,000 Darshinis in Bangalore. There are also food courts where small fast food outlets serve many different cuisines under one roof.
So the success of McDonald’s lies in reproducing their menu everywhere in the world. They can create the exact same burger in the UK as in India but with Indian dishes, it is different. It is almost impossible to recreate the same curry twice – even if you follow the same recipe, the result won’t be exactly the same at the end, there are too many variables. This might explain why they are not so many chain restaurants in India. And long may that continue!