Breakfast, to many of us, means a bowl of sambhar-vada, a plate of idlis, or that delicious disc from the heavens – the dosa. Whether it be prepared at home, eaten hurriedly besides a food cart, or enjoyed over a piping hot cup of filter coffee at an Udipi restaurant, there’s no doubt that South Indian cuisine has been most of working India’s favoured choice of breakfast food for as long as mankind has woken up in the morning with that familiar empty feeling in the pit of the stomach. Chances are you’ve eaten a dosa at some point in the last two weeks at the very least. And why wouldn’t you? Dosas are divine!
It’s only natural then that food giants are rushing to incorporate their own versions of the iconic dish in their own localised version of the menu. So why, then, has Twitter flown into a frenzy over the McDonald’s Masala Dosa Burger? You’d think a nation that takes pride in adding our own unique flavours to global cuisine would be a little more open to the idea of outside entities adopting the local flavours we love so much.
What’s All The Fuss About?
In an interview with the Economic Times, Amit Jatia, vice-chairman of Westlife Development, which runs McDonald’s restaurants in the west and south, said that McDonald’s would “continue to look at inspiration from Indian cuisine and bring it as a McDonald’s format which will give you flavours from the west but the familiarity of India.” This is in line with the global fast food giant’s attempt to disrupt the branded breakfast segment through a new branded breakfast menu that takes inspiration from some staples of Indian breakfast foods, such as anda burji and masala dosa.
However, this decision didn’t set too well with the Indian Internet. There seems to be some small pockets of support for this bold move, but for the most part criticism and ridicule have been the presiding reactions to the announcement. Social media, in particular, had a field day lampooning the burger and its maker.
Meanwhile, others just sought to jump onto the bandwagon in the hope that someone would take notice of them within the veritable windfall of jokes that came of this decision.
— Modern Interior (@moderninteriorc) January 11, 2017
The Case of The Missing Curiosity
The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time someone’s tried to integrate Indian cooking with cuisine from elsewhere. Lest we forget, we’re the country that came up with the abomination of a Biriyani-Pizza lovechild that was the Birizza. Yet, for every Birizza there are plenty of Indian versions of popular foods that we just can’t seem to get enough of – Gujarati Pizza, Indian Chinese and adding paneer to literally every kind of cuisine there is in this world (why?) have been mainstays of what’s considered popular Indian foods for many years now.
But the one thing that everyone seems to be missing is that this isn’t the first time McDonald’s has localised their menu. After all, they’re the inventors of the big daddy of fast food localisations – the humble McAloo Tikki Burger – and we’d be lying if we said that they didn’t hit it out of the park with that one, because those burgers aren’t flying off the shelf without reason. So maybe it’s just a matter of giving them a chance to see what they can do with a potato patty slathered in a special molaga podi chutney mayo and placed in a rich French Brioche? Perhaps a Masala Dosa Burger wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, after all. We can’t really know until we try it. And with that ingredient list, the worst thing that can happen is if it turns out to be a slight variation on the already wildly popular McAloo Tikki Burger. Sounds like a win-win situation to us.
The Udipis Are Not Under Attack
Relax. Take a deep breath. Your favourite Udipi restaurant won’t even notice the difference once McDonald’s comes out with their all-new breakfast menu. The same Economic Times article points out that only two percent of the eating-out market is organised with national and international food retail brands. India seems to have its priorities in place when it comes to how food ought to be consumed and smaller restaurants still appear to be the go-to option for most of the nation’s diners.
Which leaves the burden of choice on you as a consumer. And that’s precisely what it boils down to in the end – a choice. Some may choose to get their dosa fix purely in the traditional sense, while others might be more willing to try out its latest burger avatar. And that’s okay. To each their own. And as with most internet outrage, eventually the jokes will dry up and people will just come to accept the Masala Dosa Burger – begrudgingly or otherwise. And if you think India will outright reject this fusion burger, then allow us to remind you that the Schzewan Cheese Dosa is still, contrary to all good taste, immensely popular.
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