Das Sreedharan opened his first restaurant in 1994 in London and called it Rasa to represent all the senses involved when eating. Now, 19 years and seven restaurants later, Sreedharan has opened his first restaurant in India, Rasa India in Bangalore. “When my mother served me food, she would hide and watch my expression from the next room. My expressions were her compliments,” he says. Sreedharan, who will divide his time between London and Bangalore, has lofty plans for his Bangalore branch, including starting a weekly farmers’ market. He has written four cook books on Indian cuisine and is now working on a fifth one. We spoke to him about his new venture after an incognito meal at Rasa India. Edited excerpts:
What prompted your entry into India after a successful stint in London? Is the menu very different from Rasa in London?
Rasa has been a successful restaurant brand in London for the past 20 years, bringing the brand home has been in the dreams for some years. As a city, Bangalore offers the best of India in terms of culture and success, I do feel the young population of this city will have a lot to do for the future of this entire country. We have our farm in Chalakudy (Kerala), which will be supplying our main ingredients directly along with the support of small local farmers.The mission behind Rasa is to simplify eating, make food healthier and lighter, be responsible to customers by taking more care, and make them feel a sense of belonging and feel at home.
What are you plans for the Bangalore restaurant?
The items on the menu will be changing every so often based on the seasons and availability. We are keen to recreate tried and tested recipes of Rasa in London. Among many plans we have for Rasa Bangalore, we would want to bring about quality, variety and, most importantly, consistency of food. As much as the food, we would also like to create a strong and ambitious team of work force to transform the very future of this industry. From a dish washer to chef, a waiter to restaurant manager, we would like them to achieve something special in this job. We also want to promote domestic cooks to have an exposure to promote their talent through working with us in the restaurant. We are working with two charities to encourage children from underprivileged backgrounds to take up catering as their future profession. In October we are starting a farmer’s market just outside Rasa India to support organic farming and everything organically produced, hopefully that will generate a new interest for the public and their lifestyle.
You also own a farm in Kerala. Tell us about your plans with that.
Our farm in Kerala is called Rasa Gurukul which is 10 years old. We have been growing organic vegetables and spices. Our idea of the farm is to develop a holistic centre around a kitchen, both for local cooks and passionate visitors to India to have short cookery holidays. We will have music, dance, yoga and meditation as much as cooking and farming. Slowly we want to create an old village where life will be simple and natural. It will change the way we are looking at life today. Rasa Gurukul will be a model institution supporting elderly and young people alike, will bring together all ingredients which will play a part in the positive change that has to happen in our society
Bangalore is bursting with new restaurants. Is there the fear of being just another restaurant?
As a proven brand from London where modern Indian food was born and made a name with world audience, we are very confident about our role as a restaurant. Rasa will make a difference for people who are looking for quality food and service. Our mission is to change the way people look at food and to add elements of respect and love. With all the good reasons mentioned above, I’m sure Rasa has a big role to play for all the good changes in Bangalore and be a part of its continued success.
Rasa India is now open on CMH road, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Look out for a review of Rasa India in this Saturday’s Mint Lounge.