Any American chain that seeks acceptance abroad knows it must do at least a little surface tweaking to appeal to local tastes. And India might just have the most un-American menu of all since roughly 40% of the country’s population doesn’t eat meat and there are both Muslim and Hindu dietary practices to consider. Restaurants are forced to get creative with non-beefy-and-porky options that translates to a lot paneer, chiles, potatoes and a little chicken and lamb.
For example, Dunkin’ Donuts, which only arrived in 2012, has seen success with its yam, corn, potato, and chicken Tough Guy burgers (and recently introduced an insane line of donut flavors for Diwali, including guava and chile, rice pudding, and saffron cream and pistachios).
It’s arguable whether or not a Whopper is still a Whopper when formed from vegetables, chicken or lamb, but that hasn’t stopped Burger King from taking on India with its first store of 12 opening in New Delhi over the weekend. Burger King certainly had time to benefit from the lessons of those who went first–McDonald’s and its beefless Maharaja Mac have been in the country since 1996
As is the way of the internet, there are detractors on the brand’s Facebook page that, well, have a beef (sorry) with the lack of red meat. Burger King in Spain already got into trouble back in 2009 for being insensitive to Hindus, so playing it safe is probably wise.
There doesn’t appear to be an India-specific Burger King site yet, but based on Facebook the most localized items besides the Whoppers look like the Spicy Bean Royale, trying to draw in newcomers with a scattering of dried kidney beans…
and a series of Melts and Cheezos. Yes, Cheezos.