Punjabi Pizza

I get a lot of questions from Westerners about the influence of Western food brands, like Pizza Hut, in India.

As you can imagine, in any cultural battle, India usually wins – and the western fast food chains all have food tailored to Indian tastes and cultural norms.

For a while, Pizza Hut had a delicious, spicy, chicked-topped pizza called their “Punjabi Pizza,” and you could see advertisements like this one:

It turns out, if you don’t know much about India, you can learn a lot from a pizza!

Here is a typical pizza menu – nothing unusual if you are familiar with India, but containing a few secrets if you’ve never been there:

First, you’ll see the different colors used to label the dishes.  GREEN is the universal color in India for a vegetarian dish, and RED is the universal color for a non-veg dish.

Second, you’lll often see a little green or red box containing a green or red dot – same meaning as above.

Finally, you’ll often be surprised because many food terms have different equivalents in Indian English.  Above you’ll see the word “capsicum” – which is nothing other than a Bell pepper.  Considering that India has around a BILLION people, and the U.S. has much less . . . I wonder how long it will be before they turn the tables and stop calling it Indian English, but rather just English?

Finally, I took this snap back in 2008 in Krakow, Poland, and it still confuses me today.

Back in 2008 there was hardly a sizeable Indian community in Europe much less Poland – was this really an advertisement for an Indian pizza? Maybe someone who can read Polish can let me know!


As seen from my hotel room, this is the famous “Palace of Culture and Science” in Warsaw, or rather, how it looked about a decade ago:

At least when I visited, it looked like the building was mostly empty.  And here’s the same building, that I captured from the street level:

Smiling Lion and Rotary Dial Telephone

Warsaw, Poland, is an amazing place, filled with lots of old stuff.

The lions at the presidential palace, in Warsaw, Poland, date back to the year 1821:

Probably, the telephone in my hotel room dates back even longer:

Interestingly, if you’re like me the sight of an old rotary dialphone immediately brings back the sound I used to hear when I dialed it.  If you are interested in more “obsolete sounds” like this, there is a fabulous website called the Museum of Endangered Sounds that tries to record and store sounds like this for posterity.