Nando’s Cataplana Algarve is the latest Portuguese dish in their repertoire which they define as a medley of flame-grilled peri peri chicken thighs, tossed with spicy rice, grilled peppers, chickpeas and a dash of parsley served with Rosa Fresca drink.
Now we are big fans of not only Nando’s tongue-in-cheek print ads but also their exotic dishes purportedly originating from Portugal and how they go about marketing them.
This time however, they’ve taken things a bit too far. Cataplana Algarve is a Portuguese dish alright, but what Nando’s Pakistan is offering under the guise of Cataplana Algarve is something far removed from the real deal.
Cataplana is the name of both the recipe and the utensil in which you cook it, Algarve being the region in Portugal where this dish originated. While the utensil used by Nandos is the real one, nowhere in the original Portuguese recipe or even in its many variants are chickpeas and ‘bhagrey huay chawal’ used.
In fact the original Cataplana comprises mainly of seafood, since Algarve is in the Western part of Portugal near the sea coast. Even in its variants, rice is seldom used and chickpeas never. So where does the inspiration for Nando’s Cataplana Algarve come from.
We all know that advertising exaggerates the features of a product.
But it goes beyond exaggeration when there’s a world of difference between the actual product and the advertised product.
Just look at the advertised photo and the actual photo we took of it. What comes to mind?
The ad showed a ‘karhai gosht’ type dish with a few grains of rice thrown in between for good measure. The actual dish was oozing with rice beneath a handful pieces of chicken all crowded on top.
Even the glass used for the drink doesn’t match. Look closely at the glass in the ad, it’s a narrow tall glass with a slight taper. Now look at the glass in the actual picture. It’s your standard wide-mouthed glass. It’s not such a big deal but if you want to get your communication right, you better tend to each and every small thing.
Now we come to the taste test. The chickpeas were hard as a rock and the paprika which the ad claimed to be grilled tasted raw, not even stir-fried.
What’s more, the effect of peri peri sauce on the ‘bhagrey huay chawal’ was like consuming ‘achar gosht aur chawal’.
If a Portuguese was to taste it, he wouldn’t have any idea himself where this dish came from.
We can safely conclude this recipe is the brainchild of a Pakistani which is being marketed as a Portuguese dish.
Not only the actual product the weak part of the deal but the marketing itself isn’t good either. One of the most effective tools of branding is storytelling which Nando’s capitalized on beautifully in its marketing of Espetada Rustica where they told the story of Christopher Columbus having an affinity for this dish back in the 14th century Whether Mr. Columbus even tasted this dish is a different matter altogether but at least the story got you captivated. No such enticement in Cataplana Algarve.
Finally the price. It costs a whopping Rs.600 which with tax comes out to be Rs.696.
Fusion of cuisines is good, but you can take too far as witnessed here. The problem with Cataplana Algarve is not that its bad. The problem is that it tastes very much like a ‘ Chana aur Shimla Mirch ka Pulao’ with no semblance of a foreign dish. And when you’re charging this much amount of money, you better make sure that the customer has something which is either better or differentiated enough so much so that he can’t have it at home on his own.