A Week of Indian Food: Day 7 – McDonald’s

And on the seventh day, we took a break from Indian food. On our last night in Delhi, T-bone was craving a Big Mac, and no amount of naan would pacify him. We headed over to the McDonald’s in Connaught Place (Delhi’s central shopping area), where we discovered that half of Delhi had the same idea. This meant that we’d be waiting forever, because Indians simply do not line up – they shove their way to the front at all times and in all places. Depending on your perspective, this can be really fun or really irritating. The best thing to do is to shove back, or follow the advice of my friend Jenny and bark “Mind the queue!” I sometimes got into a good shoving spirit, but Todd found it frustrating at all times.

The McDonald’s line had its usually cheery effect on Todd, but when he finally made his way to the cashier, he had an even worse shock: McDonald’s in India serves neither beef NOR pork. No Big Mac, and no bacon to make the chicken burgers palatable.

Instead, you can enjoy a large crowd with a side of anger!

This way, they avoid offending Hindus (holy cows) AND Muslims (unholy ham). Not sure where this leaves Brahmins (no meat and no garlic) or Jains (no meat, no garlic, no onion, and no root vegetables), but I guess you have to draw the line somewhere. Instead, McDonald’s offers chicken, paneer (soft cheese) and egg options. We both went with the chicken.

They do not lie – the McSpicy chicken was plenty spicy

Todd’s “burger” was the usual mound of compressed chicken bits. Mine actually contained real meat, but instead of the widely advertised breast meat that North American McDonald’s uses, this one trumpeted its THIGH meat. So this is where all the non-busty bits go to die!

It’s enough to make a grown man cry

It was a pretty sad experience overall. We clearly didn’t learn our lesson, though, because the next day, I tried to purchase a coke at the airport McDonald’s. After shoving my way to the cashier, I asked for a coke. He informed me (and I am not joking), that McDonald’s does not sell fountain drinks that are not part of their combos. I asked if I could buy a canned drink instead, and sadly, those too were off limits. So strange…

Lesson learned: always eat curry instead of McDonald’s. Curry will never let you down.

It may, in fact, make you feel very “up”

A Week of Indian Food: Day 2 – the Thali

Like chai, the thali is a long-standing Indian tradition. Thali means “plate” in Hindi, and what a plate it is. Essentially, it’s comprised of a mound of rice on a steel plate surrounded by a variety of dishes. Depending on the region and the price, it could include any number of things. A cheap northern thali might include a few chappati (flat bread), some dhal (lentil stew), and a cooked vegetable. Southern thalis are more likely to include rice, sambar (spicy lentil/tomato soup), and coconut-based curries.

We ate several thalis in India, but unfortunately I only took photos of one. Todd ordered this in a Jaipur restaurant, and it is on the fancier end of the thali spectrum.

Taadaa!

Taadaa!

It includes rice, naan, roti (flat bread), dhal, malai kofta (potato-cheese dumpling), a paneer (soft-cheese) curry, pappadum (a lentil crisp), raita (yogurt and cucumber), a vat of salty, spicy pickle, and gulab jamun (deep-fried milk ball soaked in syrup). Oh, and intriguingly enough, an entire bowl of purple onions.

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Some restaurants will continue re-filling your dishes until you beg them to stop, but at this particular joint, Todd had to make do with the original portions. Poor boy. He really didn’t get enough food.