• Spice it up before you sell it, say Indian pizza lovers

NEW DELHI -- You can take pizza to India, but you can't expect to sell it unless you spice it up. The famed Italian creation born of a blend of tomato sauce, cheese and crust needs a little help to thrill the Indian palate.

According to a report on Navakal.com, the Indians want strong, spicy flavors in their foods, a fact which has forced multinational food giants like Pizza Hut and Domino's Pizza to kick up their offerings a notch.

"Indians are ... very particular about the flavors and the spices, so I feel the (multinational corporations) are doing the smart thing," says Lubna Khan, an expert on Indian cuisine.

"We have introduced new favors which are very popular in different parts of India," says Arvind Nair, CEO of Domino's Pizza in India.

According to Khan, a liberal sprinkling of green chilies is one uniqueness with Indian pizza, as is the use of a more cottage-like cheese, called paneer.

When major fast-food players entered the Indian market in the 1990s, it opened a new vista for Indians. Pizzas and burgers became an integral part of Indian food lore, especially for the youngsters.

But for now it appears such foods continue to be an occasional delight. For most, traditional home-cooked food is still the favorite, and competing with traditional Indian food is no easy task. Because of its price, pizza largely remains affordable to bigger spenders, though prices are getting cheaper as heat-and-eat self-assembly, home-cooked products enter the market.

At the average pizza shop, a small pie costs about Rs 200 (U.S. $4), which is much higher than aloo ka parantha, a popular Indian dish costing just a few cents.

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