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KFC vs. McDonald's in India


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I stumbled across this Indian Web site, and noticed a short piece about McDonald's and KFC in India. Of course, I knew they were there, but I kind of got distracted for awhile by all the talk here about the magic of Indian cuisine. So, how about it, do Indians like this stuff? What's the lowdown on Western-style junk food in India?

http://www.connectmagazine.com/JUNE199....nd.html

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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like all McD openings in countries where such things are alien, the opening of the first store brought huge crowds who queued peacefully for a slice of american life ( Lamburgers?) Same in China.  Same in Moscow ( I was in Moscow when that happened, very bizarre.  The average queue for a burger was three hours and there were 50,000 applications for every job )

The growth of fast food outlets has grown with the growth of the indian middle classes.  It is not uncommon for both parents to work etc etc so a fast food meal is often a boon and for the children it is a slice of Americana on their doorstep.

The ones in Delhi are run in exactly the same way as all McD but with a local twist ( in this case a small shrine, I think to Ganesh ) and with some local produce.  I think they serve Limca and Thumbs Up Cola.

It is, I guess on the one hand producing local employment.  On the other hand it is a sign of increasing globalization in a country that fought against it for so long.

And, let us not forget, that the fastest of fast food is street food and no one does that better than the Indians.  What I would give for a bag of Luchee ( Sp?) and Tamarind water right now

S

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Besides bad publicity and being the target of political groups with their own agendas, KFC is up against the local variation of fried chicken (chicken pakora) that has been around for a long time. It is tastier (usually made of marinated chicken) in my opinion. McDonald's, on the other hand, does not have to face any local fare as direct competition. From my limited experience New Delhi outlets of both, McDonald's has done a much better job of customising its menu to local tastes as well. Just my impression.

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I don't visit McDonald's when I travel for the same reasons I don't patronize it here. Thus I can't speak about it in general, but I know people who seem to enjoy eating at McDonald's wherever they go and they seem to enjoy spotting the differences. Perhaps ultimately globalization has it's own builtin localizations.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I am like Bux.. and if I do go to a McDonalds,.. which happens on occasion.. I would rather go to one here.. to the real thing.

And India does have great and varied street and fast foods.. it would be a shame to go to India and not indulge in those great foods.

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My god. Chicken pakora. I've never had that. I want some. Now.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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They are great.. as are most Indian street foods.. and if you stay away from fresh fruits and veggies.. the fried and cooked street foods are relatively safe for a tourist to eat.

I will someday do an extensive book on street foods of India.  Since they are as different as the many dialects seen in India.

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While there (.IN) last month, I did not particularly notice hugh crowds outside these two

establishments. There have been many fast-food type of places in BOM/DEL for decades.

I remember in the late '70s Nirulas opened in my neighborhood in DEL and was instantly

populated by nearby University crowd. Similar clones were to be found in many parts of

South Dehi. Same was true in BOM

anil

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Nirulas serves the best Hot Fudge Sundae.. I crave it all the time.  The owner, a classmate of my dad in school in India, came to study at Cornell and went back to start it.  He has found great success and done it without the ugly madness that comes with the multinationals.  

And yes, we have so many different chains similar to thse two that already exist.. It is a shame that just for them being American, people get swayed in, and then, most never go back, but some that need to be seen in an American place, will venture another time...

I grew up with many chain options around India.  But these did not have the marketing power, or the cultish baggage of these two giants.  But still, they were very successful and very good.

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  • 2 years later...

This discussion should be good since so many of us have just returned from India. What did you all think. My son loved the Aloo Tikki (Potato Pattie) Burger....

did anyone try McDonald's?

My dad was telling me that the Indian Subway sandwiches are wonderful. Has anyone tried those? What did you think?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Monica - Subway in India is great - They have amazing selection -fresh breads and even choices like Hummus and Falefel that aren't available here. McD"s in India I"m not such a fan of except their spicy fries...

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like all McD openings in countries where such things are alien, the opening of the first store brought huge crowds who queued peacefully for a slice of american life ( Lamburgers?) Same in China.  Same in Moscow ( I was in Moscow when that happened, very bizarre.  The average queue for a burger was three hours and there were 50,000 applications for every job )

That may have been the experience in Moscow, but in general it has not been the experience in India. That _is_ how KFC opened in India - lots of hype, premium location in Bangalore, quite high prices and lots of stuff from the KFC people about how finally you could get this great bit of America right here in Bangalore.

And they got creamed. First of all they became the natural target for every anti-American demonstration in the city and at least twice I think the place was ransacked. Even worse, as Simon says, lots of people came once and quickly decided that the food was crap and if they really wanted unhealthy ways to eat chicken, there were plenty of places in Bangalore that could provide just that.

McD was studying the market at the same time and they took on board on all the failures of KFC and came up with a strategy that has become a business case studies standard. I don't have any great liking for their stuff, but their approach to India was brilliant. First, they were very low key. Didn't come into high profile downtown locations from the start - they started in the suburbs, not much hype, just some local media.

Second they positioned themselves as a family restaurant in every way. So it was all designed to be non-intimidating and welcoming to everyone, even if they weren't particularly cosmopolitan. It was all very child friendly - they have special packages for hosting birthday parties and I know this comes as such a boon to many parents with kids, they quickly swallow their anti-McD feelings. (There's also very little Americana on display).

And they were also superior to Indian restaurants in one way - hygiene. The McD places are spotlessly clean and I know Indians like a Jain friend of mine who would not eat in other Indian restaurants, but will eat in a McD simply because of the hygiene levels. (To reassure strict vegetarians like my friend the veg food is cooked strictly separately from the non-veg food).

Most important of all, they got the prices and the menu right. McD in India is not expensive - in fact I think I've seen tables that show its the cheapest McD in the world. That is still not dead cheap by Indian standards, but its affordable. Take into account all the value meal combos they advertise and its pretty good value. There's a McD close to my office opposite VT Station, the big train terminus in Bombay and you can often see two types of people eating - foreign backpackers because its cheap and safe and familiar, and Indian travellers, because its cheap and safe and close to the station.

The real masterstroke has been the menu which is VERY Indianised. First of all, absolutely no beef and they say this repeatedly and loudly. There was a Maharaja Mac made of mutton, but if I'm not wrong, this is also being phased out. So the only meat options are chicken and, sometimes, fish. In contrast, lots of vegetarian options lead by the McAloo Tikki, a spicy ball of mashed potato dipped in batter and cooked and served in a bun - an international version of the vada-pau that's Bombay's most favourite streetfood. There are wraps that use lots of cheese and spicy tomato sauce, stuff like that. And of course, there are french fries by the ton, and yes, I admit it, I like their french fries.

McD has done its job so well, its now really well established, its opening more restaurants, more rapidly now. Its becoming more high profile - I guess now it feels it can take the risk. KFC, if I'm not mistaking, has shut shop.

Vikram

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  • 2 months later...

Fat Guy,

KFC has two new items on their menu:

Chicken Thali

Veg Thali

From the glossy transperencies it looks like a little mound of Rice, a spoonful of Raita and a small bowl of veg/chicken curry.

You all will may probably not believe me and I would have posted images but these guys are big guns and I don't have a battery of Lawyers. :hmmm:

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/a...004/metro12.asp

There’s a lot more variety on the menu now, from classic burgers to juicy wraps.

In the ‘Meal Steals’ section, one can choose from Kentucky Burger, Veggie Delite and Chicken or Veg thali. The Chicken thali here includes a portion of rice, spicy curry, a small portion of salad and a piece of the crispy chicken.

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There’s a lot more variety on the menu now, from classic burgers to juicy wraps.

In the ‘Meal Steals’ section, one can choose from Kentucky Burger, Veggie Delite and Chicken or Veg thali. The Chicken thali here includes a portion of rice, spicy curry, a small portion of salad and a piece of the crispy chicken.

in our last trip to bangalore (last month),

we were all very curious and walked down

to the new KFC on 100 Ft Rd to try it out.

Got takeout; 2 kinds: Veg thali

and some kind of Veg roll (will explain).

The Veg Thali had a veg cutlet (rather pedestrian);

some rice (unremarkable veg pulao) and a little

container of "spicy curry" which was a cup of gravy

that tasted like nothing on earth. Very baffling.

The Veg roll was a rather good paneer tikka roll

wrapped in a chapati style thing, with a good dipping

chutney, salad, etc. This was rather tasty, but every second

dhaba does this equally well, if not better.

Other than the curiosity of going to a KFC overseas,

and seeing what they make of veggie food, there's nothing

at all to make one go out of one's way to eat at KFC India....

Milagai

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Other than the curiosity of going to a KFC overseas,

and seeing what they make of veggie food, there's nothing

at all to make one go out of one's way to eat at KFC India....

not even pressure to get the latest freebies?!gosh-you're doing something right! :wink:

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Naturally, being Indian I prefer the McD offerings in India to what we get here. I was particularly thrilled with the chilli sauce. I don't like cabbage as a substitute for iceberg, but I can live with it.

Suman

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