In the second of the iGlobal? Eat Out to Help Out Series, we take a tour of another popular Indian restaurant chain in London Rasa as it prepares to come out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Award-winning Chef Das Sreedharan grew up in a small village near Cochin, Kerala, on the lush, spice-rich south west tip of India. He founded the Rasa chain of restaurants in the UK in 1994 with a vision to bring the authentic taste of South Indian and Kerala cuisine to Britain.
Keeping the magic and tradition of home cooking alive, Rasa was born out of Das? childhood memories helping his mother manage the family vegetable plot as she cooked for the family with great affection and devotion.
Over the past 26 years, Rasa has lived up to this ethos and gone on to win several awards and twice bagged the title of Time Out Best Vegetarian restaurant.
Food is the greatest companion for all of us and it can help us move forward, says Das.
And since closing its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he decided to use the power of his spices through take-away services.
Das believes the healing touch associated with Indian cuisine, both for the mind and the body, are fairly well known now. And for him, it is one of the core beliefs at Rasa that food is profoundly linked to everything important in life and one's health and wellbeing.
And since the social distancing rules came into force, Das has been using his time to both cook and send messages of healing and positivity through his podcast channel. This offers a glimpse at food made with the finest and natural ingredients, cooked with love and care and accompanied by some wise words.
Das explains: There is a lot of learning we can take from food, it has helped me to solve many of my life's problems. I think of food as a source of inspiration and energy. I enjoy cooking a lot and to make things easier for people during these unprecedented times, I spent much of my time doing podcasts on SoundCloud, sharing words and wisdom to heal and help people think positively, about now and the time ahead.
Following the re-opening of the hospitality industry from earlier in July, Rasa's 12 restaurants across the UK were preparing mainly for deliveries and takeaways initially before wider plans.
?We want to be careful on behalf of our customers and staff. We do not know what will happen going forward, so we have decided to allow some time as opposed to opening immediately. But we do plan to open up soon?, explains Das.
An eternal optimist, the chef and author of several cookbooks is determined to be positive and not fearful of the implications of the lockdown.
He adds: I know it won t be easy, but that is where I believe quality matters. The quality of your food and your attitude definitely matters, because the food industry is not just a business. Chefs are like the mothers of the new world, with homemade food becoming an uncommon practice they are now creating that comfort zone.
I feel very optimistic about moving forward; we have enough resources and people to keep things going and we can turn this around.
As the founder of Rasa Gurukul, a retreat and organic farm in India where orphans and under-privileged children are taught cookery skills by the elderly, Das is also looking forward to developing a similar healing centre in the UK.
Lockdown has not been very easy for people; many are confused and frustrated. I believe starting something like this we can help people and it will also open up a new avenue for Indian food.