Farzi Cafe: How technology is redefining Indian cuisine in the UK

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gRowing under the guidance of his legendary father Jiggs Kalra, also known as the “Indian Food Czar”, restaurateur Zorawar Kalra has created his own Indian restaurant empire.

As Founder and Managing Director of Massive Restaurants, Zorawar oversees 37 Asian restaurants around the world, including Farzi Cafe London, and continually works to innovate Indian cuisine by incorporating his curiosity for advanced culinary technology with his respect for traditions. old dishes.

The Independent met Kalra as he seeks to grow his business and further express his love for Indian cuisine on the world stage.

1. When did you first know you wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps?

The passion for catering has always been deep within me. Growing up, I was thrilled to see my dad’s lifestyle, his work on great concepts, and above all the respect he instilled in the entire industry. My dad was the biggest influence in my life. Around the age of 12, I decided that was the only thing I wanted to do. But I didn’t want to do anything boutique, my entrepreneurial spirit was more about a bigger business that would permanently put Indian food on the global palate.

My father had instilled in me this enormous responsibility towards Indian cuisine. I grew up in a very food-centric family. It brought us all together. We were all together at the dining table. As a child, holidays meant trying new flavors at the best restaurants in the world. Somewhere, something just touched me.

2. What is the most important lesson you learned from your father?

My father’s work ethic was something I always admired. That and his deep sense of responsibility towards Indian cuisine. It was unprecedented. He spent days working on his computer, researching multiple sources, then combining them to formulate his version of the perfect recipe. His attention to detail is another thing I learned the most from him. He also taught me to strive for perfection, while letting me know that you will never truly achieve it.

3. What is the biggest obstacle you have encountered in your career?

The current pandemic has been one of the greatest shocks to the entire human race. The food and beverage industry has been hardest hit. Restaurants did not operate for very long and staff in our industry had the option of working from home. This had a huge impact on everyone in the industry.

But the lockdown also gave us an opportunity. During Covid-19 we had to look for other avenues as the restaurants were closed. Before the first national lockdown, we didn’t have a very robust delivery system. Delivery and takeout have become an essential part of our restaurants.

I believe there are challenges in every business, but if you love your job, these are just minor obstacles along the way.

4. What common misconception do Londoners have about Indian food?

Indian food initially had a perception problem abroad. He struggled to get the love he was getting in India. It was considered post-pub cheap food doused in chilli and with a couple of basic sauces forming the whole menu. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the years the perception has reversed, particularly in the UK where it is arguably the most popular cuisine today.

With innovative dishes and bold flavors, the cuisine of Farzi Café London is a journey through India through your taste buds. Marrying global influences with an unapologetic Indian twist, it has been well received in the city and we are overwhelmed with the response and deeply grateful for it.

5. Farzi is known for using state-of-the-art cooking equipment. What tool do you particularly like, whether at the bar or in the kitchen? What does it do?

The techniques used in Farzi Cafe are quite advanced. Our techniques include the juxtaposition of modern and ancient. The use of fire and slow cooking (also known as dum) along with the use of modern techniques involving sodium alginate, liquid nitrogen, lecithin, etc., provide our customers with a unprecedented gastronomic experience. Even the cocktails on the London menu were created using the latest equipment, including centrifuges and a sonic homogenizer (perhaps one of the few in the whole of the UK).

6. What has the pandemic taught you about the restaurant industry?

The pandemic has taught us that nothing is permanent and that we must always prepare for the unexpected and the unexpected. The main thing is to always make sure that you have a lean ship, you have a business that has no additional costs.

But perhaps the most important lesson learned is that agility is one of the most important tools a company’s management can have.

7. What excites you most about your plans for the future?

We have a few launches planned, which is very exciting. The idea of ​​serving well curated, innovative and progressive menus in a new country/city is always challenging and very exciting. Currently, we operate 37 outlets of our restaurant brands Farzi Café, Made in Punjab, Younion, Masala Library, Bo-Tai and PaPaYa. We have 10 franchised outlets in preparation in Chennai, Kanpur, Nagpur and Gwalior. Most of them will be from Farzi Café, while the rest will be Made in Punjab and Youunion. Our goal is to open at least 15 outlets each year – an equal mix of franchisee-owned, company-operated, and company-owned and company-operated models. We aim to increase our restaurant footprint to over 100 over the next three years.

8. On Instagram, you follow dozens of car accounts. How is a luxury vehicle like a delicious meal?

A delicious meal enhances someone’s experience. It’s a fabulous way to spend an evening. It’s an art form. In the same way, a beautiful car enhances the environment it inhabits. Pleasure is the common thread between the two.

9. What is the cuisine, other than Indian, that you cannot live without?

My two favorite cuisines are Indian and Japanese. Although they are complete opposites, the finesse and balance of flavors in each of these cuisines is complex. I find myself attracted by the simplicity of Japanese flavors and also by the complexity of Indian recipes.

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