One of the big problems facing Indian restaurants is the reluctance to adapt to modern practices, Rehan believes. “Many Indian restaurants in the UK haven’t really changed in sixty years,” he says. “They have a lot of staff, so the overhead is huge. Using traditional equipment like Tandoor ovens requires specialist skills, which requires a lot of training, and old-school menus often rely too much on the bunion, which may leave customers feeling bloated.”
From its beginnings as a “pretty traditional” Indian restaurant, Rehan has spent the past eleven years refining its menu and researching new technologies that help it work smarter and faster. In 2017 he began to investigate the modern multifunctional cooking systems available.
“We’ve built what we call a smart food experience at Bombay Express. We’re always on the lookout for new, innovative dishes to serve that you won’t find anywhere else, as well as options for a range of different dietary requirements. We we need efficient and adaptable equipment.”
It quickly became apparent that Rational offered the most complete and flexible solution. The Bombay Express kitchen is now built around an iCombi Pro and an iVario Pro, the latest versions of RATIONAL’s market-leading cooking systems.
They had a huge effect on working life at Bombay Express. “Besides only needing two people in the kitchen, the Rationals reduce the time we need to get everything done,” says Rehan. “For example, making a day’s worth of onion sauce took two and a half hours. The iVario Pro can do it in an hour and a quarter, it’s phenomenal!
RATIONAL is also able to replace specialized cooking equipment such as the Tandoor oven. “Cooking chicken in a Tandoor is quite tricky, making sure it’s cooked evenly and doesn’t burn,” Rehan says. “With the iCombi Pro, we can kick it off with precisely controlled cooking times and know we’ll get perfectly moist, tender chicken every time. It helps take the guesswork out and diners love the results.”
Maintaining authenticity is a big concern for Rehan and the other members of ARON. “Some people think modern equipment can’t replicate the smoky flavors of tandoori cooking,” he says. “The iCombi Pro’s VarioSmoker accessory is a great answer to those concerns. It allows us to get that rich charcoal flavor, but also allows us to experiment with so many other flavors. That’s another thing that helps us stand out from other local restaurants.”
This ability to experiment has led to the creation of a new section on the menu, the Gunpowder Grill. “It’s something that no other Indian restaurant offers, and it’s all thanks to our RATIONAL cooking systems,” he says. These dishes combine different techniques using both the iVario Pro and the iCombi Pro. “For our Hyderbaadi lamb steak, the meat is marinated in spices, then we use the iVario to sear it and cook it sous vide. We can then chill it until needed and grill it. in the iCombi.”
The ease of trying new recipes with RATIONAL’s systems is a key point in Rehan’s advocacy for a modern approach to ARON members. “Industry needs to be proactive in adopting new technologies,” he says. “I always emphasize the cost savings for our members and the indirect benefits they produce.
“The RATIONAL cooking systems have delivered significant savings on our energy bills, thanks to reduced preparation time, and their smart assistants allow us to adapt quickly if we need something urgent says Rehan.
Cleaning equipment can be a time-consuming task. Both the iCombi Pro and the iVario Pro are designed to be easy to clean, with an integrated hand shower in the iVario and the iCareSystem in the iCombi Pro which automatically detects the level of soiling and sets the optimal cleaning cycle . It uses new phosphate-free cleaning chemicals, which reduce consumption by up to 50%.
“It’s great to see RATIONAL eliminate phosphates from its chemical cleaning products,” says Rehan. “Reducing our impact on the environment is important to me. RATIONAL’s commitment to improving and optimizing its systems also helps us to optimize our business.”
This ability to optimize working practices has had a series of effects at Bombay Express. “It only takes a day to train staff to use both the iCombi Pro and the iVario Pro,” says Rehan. “This is particularly helpful at this time when the industry is facing a skills shortage. Even with new hires, we know we will maintain our high standards.
“The new generation of chefs that is coming now expects modern equipment,” he continues. “They look for jobs in places that have them because they know they won’t be doing a lot of boring repetitive tasks, just focusing on creating great food every time.”
This guarantee of quality also benefits the room staff. “They’re convinced they’re bringing great food to diners. Having that pride in serving something exceptional helps give customers that wow factor,” he says. “Everyone at Bombay Express, from the kitchen to the front desk, takes pride in the food we create with RATIONAL equipment.”
The iCombi Pro and iVario Pro both include ConnectedCooking, RATIONAL’s digital networking service. This allows operators to easily monitor and update cooking systems remotely, via PC, phone or tablet. “ConnectedCooking helps me create a unified smart kitchen,” says Rehan. “For example, if we’re cooking a dish overnight, I can check everything is going well from my phone, or I can check that everything is properly cleaned if I take a day off. It also simplifies adding and modification of recipes. , as well as recording of HACCP data.
“Thanks to the iCombi Pro and iVario Pro, I have a digitally optimized kitchen, which allows me to share recipes and settings with ARON members,” says Rehan. “Embracing the possibilities offered by modern cooking systems will be vital to the continued growth of our entire industry.