KFC in India’s fiery tomato based masala tantalizes the taste buds of a visiting American

Eight years ago, I pleasantly sampled KFC in India and my view of the universe was permanently altered. India has been in a rut for the last ten thousand years. In the old days you could go to the forest wearing a loincloth and meditate, hang out with monkey gods, and learn to levitate. Then, India became less spiritual, after a few more hundred years, the Muslims took over large portions of India, and the caste system persisted.

Local Deshis have a repetoire of 10 dishes
Most people in India have a repetoire of ten dishes that they eat from the day they are born until the day they die (unless they are fed on an IV.) The Northern Moghlai cuisine has more diversity of spices while Maharashtra specializes in brown sauces and Kerela has coconut and ayervedic spices in their food. The high point of Tamilian cuisine is sambar while the Andhra Pradeshis have a mentally obtuse dish called “dumb biryani.” With all those high tech parks I’m sure they could innovate a smarter version of that dish and call it “smart biryani.”

India’s culinary rut finally altered
In the last ten years, India has really opened up culinarily. The 10,000 year old rut they have been in has lifted — at least for now courtesy of the influence and money brought in by multi-national companies, high tech firms, call centers, etc. Now you can get Indianized Chinese food anywhere. Yes, India’s Chinese food has too much basmati rice, too much black pepper, is too heavy on overly liquidy sauces, etc. India needs to learn that Chinese food is not Indian food and doesn’t come with twelve ounces of curry sauce. Chinese food normally comes in a light sauce and should emphasize Chinese flavors of which there are many, and not reflect Indian tastes so much. But, surprisingly Chennai has the best and most authentic tasting Chinese and Malay food in the country if you go to the right places. Additionally, now you can get dosa in the North and Punjabi butter chicken in the South. You can get Kerela paratha in Tamil Nadu and kim-chee in Bangalore. India has turned over a new ayervedic leaf it seems.

KFC in India came up with their own masala
When I travel, it is always interesting to see how a culture will assimilate another culture’s cuisine. I tasted a croissant in Germany (terrible,) had Chinese food in Italy (not bad,) and had Italian food in Andorra (excellent.) As far as I’m concerned Indians have ruined Chinese food, but for some reason they did a great job altering Colonel Sander’s chicken. No more 11 herbs and spices in India. Kentucky Fried Chicken in India came up with their own masala using — get this — tomato sauce, sweetener, and a lighter version of the herbs and spices, undoubtedly a completely different mixture.

The irony is that Indian KFC isn’t spicy
The irony is that Indian food is known for being spicy — and so is KFC. However, KFC in India spices their chicken in a very similar way to a popular variety of potato chips in India that Lays and/or Ruffles and other local manufacturers make which is a sweet tomato flavor. Indian KFC is surprisingly and pleasantly mild, sweet and tasty. I enjoyed McDonald’s Maharaja burger, I enjoyed getting American ice cream in Bangalore, but KFC was my best experience short of dining in five star hotels.

Why can’t we have Indian KFC in Los Angeles?
My only regret, is that Kentucky Fried Chicken in India is so good, I wish we could get the same flavor in America. Unfortunately the demographics here don’t support the same culinary tastes. But, maybe one day love will find a way. While we’re at it, I sampled kung pao chicken around the world, and I want Italian, Austrian and Atlanta Georgia style kung pao available in Los Angeles. I think it won’t happen until I open my own kung pao restaurant — we do kung pao right.

In any case, I’m looking forward to my next visit to India. We’ll see what new recipes KFC cooks up in India by then!

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