Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

To Curry Favor in India Debut, McDonald's Sells Maharaja Macs

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

To Curry Favor in India Debut, McDonald's Sells Maharaja Macs

Article excerpt

Move over tandoori chicken and mutton curry, the Maharaja Mac has finally arrived.

The double-decker, 100-percent beefless burger in its perfectly toasted sesame-seed bun is now the pride of McDonald's first venture in India, a sign of the country's recent interest in welcoming foreign firms.

Situated in a trendy New Delhi suburb, the restaurant, which opened on Sunday, has been doing a roaring trade serving thousands of lamb and vegetable burgers a day to a hungry clientele queuing up for hours to taste the once-forbidden fruits of the world's largest fast-food chain. After years of careful planning, McDonald's kept its launch deliberately low key to avoid protests from animal-rights activists and militant farmers' groups who oppose the entry of multinational fast-food chains. The burger giant has been warned that it will face the same music as India's first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in the Indian city of Bangalore, which has been attacked several times since it opened. But so far the barricades outside the restaurant have been used for crowd control. "These people are coming for the unique McDonald's service," says the company's managing director in India, Vikram Bakshi, as he flicks a speck of dirt from the stairs of the two-storied, jam-packed restaurant. "You will find the same quick and friendly service here as in any McDonald's restaurant in the world." To appease Indian religious sensibilities, the restaurant is the first in the 19,400-strong McDonald's chain not to offer beef and pork derivatives on its menu, which also features a large vegetarian spread. The majority of Indians are Hindus who consider cows to be sacred. Many are also vegetarian. Muslims, who make up around 12 percent of the population don't eat pork. For 39 rupees (a little over $1 or around twice the average daily wage of an Indian worker) a McBurger Meal combo consists of lamb-burgers instead of hamburgers along with the usual soda and fries. …

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