20 October, 2020

No Dash Of Masala

For Indian restaurants, the world is no oyster. A sameness dulls.

No Dash Of Masala
Indian friends often tell me how much interest there is in Indian cuisine in the West, and that the Indian restaurant trade must be thriving. But let me tell you, it has not been easy. When I was trying to set up an upmarket Indian restaurant for the Taj Group in London, more than two decades ago, we found it difficult to find a suitable site—landlords didn't want curry smells in their AC ducts! It was only after the Taj acquired the Baileys Hotel that we were able to open the Bombay Brasserie on the premises.

We had other problems too. Guests said the food was expensive "for an Indian restaurant". But just because we were an Indian restaurant, no supplier was charging us less for good quality ingredients. Influenced by food critics, who wrote that beer went better with Indian food than wine, our customers were spending much less than we would have liked. To top it all, there were the well-wishers, the kind who said, "Indian restaurants are where you take your mother-in-law but never your banker!"

From 1984, the year Bombay...


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