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Friday, August 19, 2022

Ten important ideas for Indian restaurants this Independence Day

Enough of stealing foods from other cultures. Let’s shine the light on our country’s culinary traditions

Suvir Saran, Slice of Life, Independence Day, Indian restaurants, Indian food, Indian cuisine, Indian culinary tradition, authentic Indian food, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news Innovation ought to be the driving force when creating a new restaurant or hotel. Time ought to be invested in hiring the right chef, sommelier, mixologist, designer and architect. (Creative by Aamir Rabbani)

In celebration of India’s Independence Day, 10 words need to be recognised, reflected upon and grasped as paramount ingredients that drive the restaurant industry. If we do not appreciate their significance, we will not rise correctly to the call of the pandemic.

Inequity in wages paid to women compared to their male counterparts needs to be eliminated. Unfairness is injustice that harms us endemically. We need more women in the workforce and we need to provide for them appropriately. A gender-equitable employee base is a wonderful way to maintain a professional environment. Testosterone levels — and the behaviour they elicit —are easily checked when women are empowered with leadership roles.

Inequality is jarring in a restaurant setting. Diners leave with a more memorable experience when their mealtime includes verbal and non-verbal exchanges with employees of both genders. Diversity of form, colour and ethnicity also enhances the experience and gives customers greater confidence in our commitment to equality.

Inauthenticity is most incongruent to the fun experience one craves when out and about, savouring a meal with friends and family. Autochthonously curated menus of dishes, cocktails, wines and spirits give the diner a peerless sense of comfort and confidence. With #MakeInIndia and #Local being noteworthy hashtags, never has it been more important to pay attention to what items we put on our menu, what we call them and how we serve them. It pays to think about how authentic and true we are to ourselves and the broader societal ethos.

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Individuality and identity mean everything in a business where new doors open almost as often as old ones close. Gaining customers’ loyalty requires a clearly articulated and marketed character and personality. The shining outliers are those who show off their unique identity with aplomb. They distinguish their menu from others and invest in brand identity that sets them apart, making their offering unique and desirable.

Suvir Saran, Slice of Life, Independence Day, Indian restaurants, Indian food, Indian cuisine, Indian culinary tradition, authentic Indian food, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news Integrity calls us to adhere to a code of moral and artistic values. To remain unimpaired by temporal circumstances.

Inspiration ought to guide a business in creating its core offering. Uninspired offerings soon meet a sad end. Every day, COVID-19 is hastening the demise of restaurants run by operators who rushed to fill a niche and cash in on the success of others, choosing to copy rather than innovate and create something to inspire an untapped hunger in their customers. Seventy-three years after independence, India is ready to see 21st century dishes that give a beating to butter chicken and dal makhani, both in taste and their lucrative success and popularity.

Innovation ought to be the driving force when creating a new restaurant or hotel. Time ought to be invested in hiring the right chef, sommelier, mixologist, designer and architect. When circumstances and practices change, as they inevitably do, these handpicked employees will adapt and change with them. Times of crises, when most run afraid, are times when daring innovators find room to play, grow and make history.

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Intuition is the powerful cognition that can help take innovative, uncharted ideas and turn them into overnight successes. No one anticipated this pandemic, and, so, the fall of our industry has been sudden and catastrophic. The ones who will rise out of this are those who instinctively turn disruptive times into their call to action. Creating new models that will be sound for decades to come. Intuitive thinking today gives rise to ideas that matter and menus that change lives tomorrow.

Integrity calls us to adhere to a code of moral and artistic values. To remain unimpaired by temporal circumstances. To maintain a sound grip on the principles that guide us and give us reason to shine. That will keep us relevant tomorrow, even as times change. Those who ride the storm without fear for momentary safety are the visionaries who reap the greatest rewards.

Injustice is not merely the absence of justice or the violation of the rights of another, it is also an act unjust to one’s own self and one’s profession. Those operators who think small today and cheat employees and vendors, who behave like small-town crooks and go against their own moral fabric, will be irrelevant tomorrow. Judged by history as petty men and women who did disservice to the greater hospitality fraternity. Equitableness ought to drive business decisions, especially during a crisis. Today’s operator should consider the ongoing pandemic an opportunity to show solidarity to their loyal employees and vendors and to the national economy at large.

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Suvir Saran, Slice of Life, Independence Day, Indian restaurants, Indian food, Indian cuisine, Indian culinary tradition, authentic Indian food, eye 2020, sunday eye, indian express news Indian sensibilities ought to be featured with pride and confidence. (Creative by Aamir Rabbani)

Independence from the British came after a brave struggle, fought by women and men who thought beyond their years, scope and vision. Freedom fighters who were true independent statesmen, blessed with peerless foresight and rich imagination. Disposed to reverie, they imagined a tomorrow impossible to envision at the time. We need people like them today.

For Indian hospitality to remain deliciously sustainable in the post-COVID era, we must tackle inequity and inequality in business practices. Integrity and intuition must work hand in hand with innovation and inspiration to prevent injustice from creeping into our work environments. Proud individuality must protect us from the mediocrity of inauthenticity.

Atithi devo bhava is the belief that when a guest arrives at our doors, God arrives with them. The hospitality industry must strive to create that celestial abode for our customers by treating every human being who sits at our table as a reflection of the divine. But to find divinity in them, we must first see it in our team members.

India must shine through her restaurants and hotels. Indian sensibilities ought to be featured with pride and confidence. Enough of stealing foods from other cultures and turning them into gloppy horrors that rob us of our vivid imagination, clog our arteries and send us into diabetic comas. And all this as the colonised mindset succumbs to the grip that long-gone colonisers still maintain over our psyche. As we rethink food service and the restaurants of tomorrow, let us shine light upon our nation’s deeply delicious, mindfully rich and highly localised culinary traditions.

(Suvir Saran is a chef, author, educator and world traveller)

First published on: 09-08-2020 at 06:50:30 am
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