In 2019, in an attempt to cash in on the phenomenal success of paratha rolls, KFC introduced the Zingeratha, a combination of KFC’s Zinger Burger (spicy chicken, breaded, crispy fried) and paratha. Early television advertising placed it carefully as the solution for younger consumers who weren’t sure if they wanted to eat “desi” or “Western” food. “It’s not confusing. It’s fusion,” KFC announced. But when Pakistanis tried it, the answer was short. Paratha rolls were meant to be a combination of the way of eating two beloved Pakistani foods – not a hybrid between local and foreign flavors.
“KFC tried to jump on the bandwagon by launching their Zingeratha [but] it didn’t work to capture the essence of our favorite paratha rolls. [It was] a soggy, thick paratha [with] too much mayonnaise and sweet sauce instead of spicy sauce. We think KFC should stick to its classic bucket of fried chicken,” said Zulekha Ahmed, founder of a food blog @karachifood adventure. “Authenticity [our] Rolls come from the chutney prepared on the street, onions roughly cut by the street vendor, marinated chicken boats [small chunks of grilled meat) barbecued live on the charcoal with its smoky smell and melt in the mouth experience. The cleaner, fusion version in the form of Zingeratha was too far from that authentic feel.”
Zia Tabarak, who runs the YouTube channel Street Food PK, agreed. “[It’s not just] “Zingeratha’s name is foreign,” he said I don’t know what of the paratha roll of the street.
Putting a positive spin on things, he said, “I think this is an achievement for the paratha roll, that a food chain like KFC has imitated it. But the original will remain as it is, and it can never be fully imitated.”
BBC.com’s The World Table “Breaks the kitchen ceiling” by changing the way the world thinks about food, through the past, present and future.
If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly newsletter on bbc.com called “The Essential List”. A selection of hand-picked stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.