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Crows, foxes, and pizzas

Pizza Hut has introduced Chettinad variants. What next? Andhra-style pizzas with avakkai accompaniment?

WHENEVER IT rained even as the sun shone, we used to sing a rhyme back in my grandmother's village about the wedding between a crow and a fox. Lines from it crossed my mind when I heard that Pizza Hut is coming up with Chettinad variants. Strange bedfellows — an almost forgotten Kannada rhyme and Pizza Hut! But then, so are Chettinad cuisine and the Italian food that's gone all American.

Pizza Hut has done it before. It came out with masaledar and tandoori variants in its Pan Hindustani series to "customise international food to Indian tastes". In other words, the global food chain realised that most Indians like a bit of fire in anything that goes down their gullet. And if you want the cash registers ringing, better acknowledge it and do something about it.

Under the newly launched Chettinad range, you have four choices — Veg Nilgiri and Dakshin Panner for vegetarians and Deccan Chicken and Southern Supreme for non-vegetarians. All the things that go into a regular pizza — lots of cheese for one thing — is very much present in this too.

The special ingredient is a thick layer of what it calls Chettinad sauce — pretty potent with lots of pepper and red chillies. And by your plate is Chettinad sprinkle, along with the usual pepper 'n' salt. This sprinkle is interesting, somewhat like karibevina chutney pudi, made with curry leaves in many Kannadiga homes. Those who swear by the "authenticity" of specific cuisines may have their share of quarrels with this very mixed marriage. Those who basically like the crunchy pan crust pizzas, but always wished it came with more spices, may just like it, though.

If you walk into the Pizza Hut outlet on C.M.H. Road you notice some change in dιcor — a rangoli at the entrance and bandhni duppattas strung around. The menu card has acquired a touch of Tamil too: "Every bite is sheer bliss, machan!" and "Hottest topic on your lips since Thiruda Thiruda". On the plates are imitation plantain leaves — made of plastic. The music is still Western. But going by the signs, we might soon be listening to some Indipop and fusion.

Looks like the age of glocals — the all-new breed born when strains of the local are selectively married to strains of the global — has truly arrived. First the Spice Telecom ads and now this.

As someone said, don't be surprised if Pizza Hut next comes up with an Andhra menu and decides to place gunpowder and avakkai by your plate!


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