No Tomatoes In Burgers: Is India Really Missing It?
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No Tomatoes In Burgers: Is India Really Missing It?

No Tomatoes In Burgers: Is India Really Missing It?

The food industry is one of the worst hit when it comes to seasonal inflation. And when tomato prices go north, it goes missing from some of the most popular dishes. For decades, the humble tomato slice has been a staple garnish of the American style burgers. But as tomatoes became expensive and the prices touched over Rs 250 per kg, many fast food chains decided to let go of the tomato from the garnishing. Last month, fast food giant McDonald’s dropped tomatoes from most of its northern and eastern India outlets. They attributed the decision to quality concerns, not the price surge. And now, arch rival Burger King too decided to send the tomatoes “for a vacation.”

But does India really miss tomatoes in its burgers? Here is what burger lovers say.

While biggies like McDonalds and Burger King cited quality as the reason for “missing” tomatoes, other players said that it becomes difficult to procure good quality tomatoes at reasonable prices especially during monsoons. Sahil Arya, Co-Founder & Director, Fat Tiger said, “Amid rising tomato prices, an unexpected shift is taking place in the culinary landscape, particularly in the beloved realm of burgers. As tomato prices continue to rise, the bright red slices are gradually disappearing from buns and changing the classic burger experience. The tomato, once a staple in this iconic fast food favourite, is becoming an elusive ingredient, leaving a noticeable void in both taste and appearance.”

Arya added, “The juicy flavour and bright colour of the tomato have long been a crucial element in perfecting the burger experience, providing a refreshing contrast to the savoury elements. However, with tomato prices on the rise, restaurants and eateries are faced with the difficult decision of keeping tomatoes affordable while providing the flavour that guests expect. Even the mighty McDonald’s has cut tomatoes from its burgers and wraps in some of its restaurants, citing supply shortages and quality issues. Since at Fat Tiger our menus are fixed and prices cannot be changed weekly, profits have dropped significantly. We cannot compromise on food quality, so we only buy hybrid tomatoes since these are essential elements, no alternatives can be used. We have to cut back on our income and spend the food almost for free, because not only vegetables, but also spices and flour have become more expensive. Currently, budgets have increased by 35-40 percent, leaving very little room to manoeuvre.”

Shaan Gidwani, Founder of Kokum Bar and Lounge and Founder and managing director of Acapella Hospitality said, “Burgers are something that are universally loved and have also made a strong mark in the Indian F&B Market. At Kokum we seek to take a popular dish like a burger and adapt it and tailor make it in a method that forms a synergy with our brand direction, cuisine and local market. With regards to preparation style, without going into too much depth, expect our offering to be unorthodox and unique.”

However, India’s burger lovers really don’t miss the tomatoes. A big chunk of people prefer not to have tomatoes on their burgers. Delhi based entrepreneur Tanu Ganguly said, “I have always hated tomatoes in my burgers, so always took them out earlier also. Not really missing them.” Indore based food enthusiast Siddhant Chopra said, “I don’t think tomatoes were the essence of burgers, I always considered them red flags.”

Shabnam from Chennai said, “I hate tomatoes and always ask for customisation of removing them. If not I physically do the honours of removing them. So, burgers without tomatoes would be my choice for sure.” Dushyant Chillale from Bengaluru too feels that tomatoes have no place in burgers and he doesn’t miss them for sure, while Sheetal prefers a slaw over tomatoes, anyday. Kolkata based Madhushree Basu Roy too can let go of tomato from her burgers. Agra based digital creator Sanchit Khandelwal said, “Honestly, no, I don’t really miss tomatoes in my burger when prices soar. To me, tomatoes seem out of place in American burgers. I relish a flavorful patty, and delicious sauces. Tomatoes find their perfect spot in Bombay-style sandwiches, adding the right touch there.”

Yet, tomatoes do find some love too. Mumbai based Muhammad Abdullah said, “I’ve loved the tomatoes in my burgers, especially the Mc Aloo tikki, since I was a kid. I remember back in 2010 when I first had it, it came with a tomato slice.” Delhi based communications professional Vishakha Talreja said, “I miss tomatoes in burgers for my child. At least it gave that false feeling that he is having vegetables and not just junk burger.” Food critic Anjana Gopakumar from Kochi said, “I love Tomatoes, I love sliced round juicy tomatoes.”

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