I know I'm not the only American who has found herself eating at McDonald's more often in other countries. It may not be healthy; it may not even be delicious, but it's familiar. Mostly. Here it is: The Maharaja Mac.
You probably thought I made that up, but that is actually what it's called. Most Indians do not eat meat, and even those who do eat meat don't usually eat beef. Although beef can be bought at a butcher shop, most “nonveg” restaurants only serve chicken, fish, or mutton. Pork is even more difficult to find here.
I am not a Big Mac fan, and prefer to eat off the Dollar Menu in the US. So, I'm not exactly sure, but I think the Maharaja Mac is like a Big Mac, only with curry-flavored chicken patties instead of hamburger patties, and a different kind of spicy sauce. It also has American cheese, lettuce, tomato slices, and red onion.
The french fries and the chicken McNuggets are exactly the same. We order barbecue sauce and mustard (it's like yellow mustard) to dip our McNuggets in, but there are 8 other dipping sauces they only have in India. Some of them are mint mayo, chili, tomato mayo, and Szechuan.
Here is a look at the menu (click to enlarge). You can tell how often we visit; Dalton is in training to be assistant manager. The exchange rate is 45Rs to $1US. The Maharaja Mac meal is $2.77. A medium fries is $1 and is about the same size as the Dollar Menu fries in the US. The chocolate-dipped cones are only 44 cents and are really good.
The McDonald's above is in the food court of the business park where my husband works. We eat lunch in the food court nearly every day. Here are some of the other options.
The Subway has some of the same sandwiches (“chicken ham” instead of pork) as in the US, and all the same toppings. It is kind of expensive. We usually eat there on Mondays when the Sub of the Day is the Chicken Teriyaki. The Sub of the Day is a pretty good deal – 6″ sub for $1.67. We don't buy the $3 Snapple they sell, though.
There are two Indian restaurants, a chinese restaurant, an organic Indian cuisine place, and a couple other places which sell wraps and smoothies. There is also a Booster Juice and Baskin Robbins, which are both pretty expensive. We've decided we aren't going to Baskin Robbins anymore. We also eat at Au Bon Pain – bagels with cream cheese and soup – and Crepe Connection, which sells delicious waffles and crepes, and decent pasta. Those places cost a bit more as well.
Other fast food chains in Bangalore include Taco Bell, KFC, and a lot of pizza places. We haven't tried Taco Bell. KFC was ok. The chicken strips tasted exactly the same, except I think they dipped the chicken in chili powder before the batter – ack! We've had Pizza Hut and Dominos, and there's also Papa John's, which we haven't tried. It's about $10-12 for a medium pizza if you want pepperoni, even with the coupons and specials. So, a rare treat, but it sure does taste good! Here's a picture of the Dominos menu.
And here are the delivery motorcycles.
We do eat out a lot, but we are still trying to save money. I bring a cold bottle of water with me when I head over to the food court to meet John so we don't have to buy drinks. When we eat at McDonald's, the meal is about 3 Rupees (6 cents) more than buying the sandwich and fries separately. The last time I tried to not get the drink, it was almost more hassle than it was worth. It wasn't the 6 cents, we just didn't need the drink!
We don't buy ice cream every day. And lots of times we get free dessert because John's coworkers love to bribe our kids with chocolate so they can hold them. We are used to eating leftovers for lunches, so now we eat them for dinner the next day and spend less on groceries. On days we don't have a driver, I walk home from lunch with the kids rather than pay for an autorickshaw.
But most importantly, we love eating lunch together as a family, and if it costs 250Rs a day, we're willing to pay that. We've made a conscious decision to enjoy our time here, even if costs a little bit extra.