In this Scottish Tuk Tuk, tapas-style Indian street food platters rule the menu

In this Scottish Tuk Tuk, tapas-style Indian street food platters rule the menu

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, restaurants have opened their doors to food connoisseurs in the UK. iGlobal hitches a ride inside this special Indian Tuk Tuk that brings the iconic Indian roadside dhabas to the great Scottish Highlands. Their dedication to recreating soul food even won them the Best Scottish Street Food Award in 2017.

Born to Bengali parents, CEO Rizvi Khaleque moved to the UK at a very young age. Nevertheless, his father’s words “I don’t want you to forget your roots” always resonated with Rizvi and he often paid them a visit during vacation time. As he stays connected to his culture, he no longer reminds himself: “You still eat with your hands, Rizvi. You like your rice and dal.”

To build up his inherited entrepreneurial inclination, the restaurateur went on to pursue his International Business Management degree from Regent’s Business School. He decided to float away from the family business and set foot into the hospitality industry. Rizvi reflects, “when you venture out by yourself, that’s the biggest lesson you’ll learn. Whether you fail or succeed, it doesn’t matter.”

Taking a spin, Rizvi laid groundworks for his first tapas-style restaurant in the medieval town of Edinburgh in 2012 and soon after in Glasgow. He drew inspiration from the multi-coloured rickshaws that are widely used in South Asian countries. “We were looking for a catchy name; easy to pronounce and remember,” explains Rizvi.

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Roadside hawker’s specials

Over the years, there has been an increasingly large number of travellers to India. From the outset, Rizvi has been on a mission to give them a similar culinary experience as they returned home. “I was particular that I wanted to do something authentic rather than for the usual British palette.”

As a tribute to the accustomed desi practice of sharing food with those around the table, Tuk Tuk offers petite and delicious yet pocket-friendly portions of street food in their traditional Indian steel dabbas (tiffins).

The street hawkers’ specialities: Golgappa (or Pani Puri as it is known in Mumbai), samosa chaat, pakora have all been incorporated into their menu. The chefs work their magic in the kitchens to give their biryani and lamb curry the rustic local flavours that resemble those at the busy stalls on Indian railway stations and road corners. Rizvi adds: “We do our curries on the bone so that you get the flavour. It’s a big hit.”

For almost a decade Tuk Tuk has been attracting local diners, tourists and their BYOB policy has made them popular among students. Don’t be surprised if you find a fancy tuk tuk (rickshaw) scooting around Edinburgh this summer!

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“It’s been a ride!”

As a design-led company, there was no stopping. In fact, the pandemic helped the team get onto the delivery bandwagon and smoothly switchover to delivery platforms and eventually launch their own app. “We didn’t do takeaways before. Our food doesn’t carry well when delivered.”

They branched out by introducing merchandise items and DIY Curry Kits, in-house spices and masala chai mixture to relish their delicacies at home. “We have still been receiving a good response from our clientele.”

During these unprecedented times, Rizvi’s main concern was to protect his employees who have been working with him for over nine years. The Eat Out To Help Out Scheme supported the entire team substantially.

Rizvi reminisces about the pre-pandemic days when his resto hosted a Scottish-Indian wedding: “Families sharing the best day of their life in my restaurant was a fun experience.”

He speaks of when he catered to a popular group of Bollywood dancers for over a month during the Edinburgh Festival. “At the end, they performed in our restaurant. We invited our local guests including the Indian Ambassador for the show. I wish they could come back this year.”

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Virtues and future

Be loyal, humble and grateful for what you have in life are the three insightful mottos that Rizvi abides by.

He understands his responsibility and makes an effort to stick to his promises: “I don’t see the team workers so much but I have got those people looking up at me. If I change my words, it’s letting people down. They depend on this business for their day to day living.”

In the future, Rizvi plans to expand down south, away from Scotland and maybe delight his customers with some South Indian dosas.

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