Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Indian cuisines are supposed to be sought after in many countries and presence of ethnic restaurants in every part of the world is cited as evidence for this tall claim. How ever the reality is that all these restaurants are patronized by spice starved Indian immigrants who  become miserable if their native food is not consumed for 2-3 days. If one critically looks at the customers in any of these restaurants less than 5% are non-Indians, reflecting the reality that there are few takers of Indian foods from citizens of other countries. When Chinese and Mexican foods are being walloped without any reservations by millions of customers in thousands of restaurants specialized in these foods, why no major initiative is forthcoming from the much vaunted Indian entrepreneurship, known world over during the last two decades, in this area?
One of the drawbacks commonly noticed in Indian eateries is the low priority accorded to presentation and cleanliness which Indian customers may accept but not others, used to ultra clean food outlets and ambiance which are standard features of such eateries. If customers flock to McDonald's, Pizza Huts, Taco Bells, KFCs and other eating chains in USA or Europe it i only due to the confidence on the foods served by them, especially the consistent quality and safety associated with them. Another aspect which deserves attention is the high degree of standardization achieved by these food chains that ensures assured patron ship from discerning customers. But Indian foods widely differ in quality from one restaurant to another affecting the the expectations of customers causing disappointment and reluctance in trying them again in future. The reported success of more than 10000 pubs in UK where papads and similar products are commonly served does not say anything because liquor guzzling customers cannot be connoisseurs of good food.
There is an urgent need to look into the above aspects and take up work to evolve a distinct Indian eatery model similar to Taco Bell set up which involves, product identification, recipe standardization, standardization of the preparation mode, equipment design suiting the requirements of eateries, short term preservation, serving mode and presentation for both in place and take out customers. It should be possible to coin a name reflecing Indian origin such 'Roti Pan' or 'Roti Dhaba' or 'Roti Bowl' or 'Roti Nest' or 'Tandoor'  or any other suitable one. Roti is Indian in every respect and products built around roti similar to tortilla based Mexican foods can form the basis for the venture. There can be products like Roti Beans, Roti Alu, Roti Cheese, Roti Curry, Roti Subji, Roti Dal etc. A standard restaurant model will have to be evolved with minimum real estate requirement. Exiting players like ITC, Taj, Oberoi etc can go for larger models while others with experience but with lesser resources may adopt smaller models. The question is who will bell the cat? Why not the Ministry of food Processing Industry or APEDA?      
Late Mr Abraham, the founder of famous Bangalore based Bolsts Condiments was able to promote a series of Bolsts Curry House eateries in Japan in eighties but it is not known whether they are still surviving to day. If a single entrepreneur can succeed, why not others with far more resources than him? Walking into an Indian restaurant with out trepidation about the food and the environment in a foreign country and sharing with citizens of other countries, should be a pleasant experience. This will make Indian food universally accepted and sought after, about which every Indian could be proud of.   

No comments: