Taco Bell invades… India?
In a marriage of spicy food cultures, Taco Bell has invaded India.
Yum! Brands has targeted the subcontinent for an aggressive growth campaign: 100 new Taco Bells are planned for India in the coming years.
The first Taco Bell branch in India opened on March 16 in a Bangalore mall and has attracted more than 2500 customers daily.
So how are Indians taking to Americanized Mexican food?
There are changes. A look at Taco Bell India’s web site gives a hint. The standard-issue taco comes with fried potato (pictured), instead of beef. For that matter, beef is not on the menu at all. Chicken is the lone meat on the menu and vegetarian options are abundant. The “Fajita Veggies Quesadilla” is “filled with fajita veggies, lots of cheese and jalapeno sauce.” French fries are served, as are “Twistease” – “corn twists sprinkled with a tangy cheese and tomato seasoning.” The nachos are topped with ground chicken. There is even a “Potato & Paneer Burrito” filled with Mexican-spiced paneer (Indian cottage cheese) along with nacho cheese sauce.
Yes, Mexican paneer.
Other new menu items are less exotic: Indian Taco Bells offer soft-serve ice cream for dessert and a “chocodilla,” a tortilla filled with chocolate spread and placed on a quesadilla press.
The customers at Bangalore’s Taco Bell come from all cross-sections of Indian society: Hindu and Muslim, Westernized and traditional, rich and poor. As part of Yum! Brands’ strategy for India, tacos and quesadillas are priced for the same amount as dosas or parathas from outdoor street stalls. Taco Bell’s advertising slogan for India is “Visit Mexico for 18 rupees.” 18 rupees is approximately 40 cents. The customers seem to like it:
Praful Desai celebrated his 65th birthday last weekend by doing something special with his family.
Desai, a retired chemical engineer and an avowed vegetarian, took his two brothers-in-law, their wives, children and grandchildren to Bangalore’s latest hotspot — the country’s first Taco Bell.
“I’m trying Mexican food for the first time in my life,” Desai said, adding, “Never too old to try something new.”
But one thing is for sure: Late-night nachos and burritos from a dicey fast food restaurant can bridge any cultural divide.