How Maggi Created a Generation of Experimental Cooks

The iconic instant noodles packet turns 40 in India, its biggest market, this year. Here’s how Maggi, despite a 2015 ban in the country, reshaped snacks and meals forever.

Shirin Mehrotra

March 2, 2022

How Maggi Created a Generation of Experimental Cooks
An Indian youth prepares Nestle Maggi instant noodles at his makeshift roadside food stall on the outskirts of New Delhi on June 3, 2015. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

I consider myself a Maggi purist, if such a thing exists. I prefer it soupy, but not too much — just the right amount that would stick to the bowl at the end. Throw in a handful of fried peanuts and that’s as far as I will go. When the brand of instant noodles — ready in about five to seven minutes if not two as promised on the pack — entered India in 1983, it targeted children and working mothers who needed a quick, hot snack for their kids. In the early years, soon after its launch, the experiments with Maggi were limited to adding vegetables, as depicted in the first Maggi television commercial in India, or scrambled eggs. 

But, in the past 40 years, Maggi has evolved into something more than just a pack of instant noodles. It has turned into an ingredient that inspires people to demonstrate their culinary skills — ranging from palatable dishes to complete wackiness.