How the food at Varr is different from other restaurants?
To the best of our knowledge it’s unique at many levels. Though there indeed have been attempts of creating temple/religion related foods at some places earlier – in all fairness they were limited by many factors. Some focussed on a particular narrow region (eg Rajasthan, Punjab, UP) – for the ease of execution in terms of skill and ingredients. Some on the other hand just could not reproduce the cuisines right. Then there’re some restaurants that appear to take very simplistic approaches and end up generalizing – some end up offering everything deep fried, others end up with an understanding that all temple food ought to be sattvic. These approached end up over-simplifying an otherwise very complex set of cuisines and therefore end up with generic tasing ‘thali’. Where you no one’s thali really stands out over the crowd.
There’s no ‘One’ ingredient per se. The demand of each region is different and at the same time there are several common ingredients that feature across all cuisines. But speaking of temple foods in specific, one can see certain ingredients being featured across all regions of India. These would be ingredients like Cow Ghee, Asafoetida, Cumin, turmeric, Fenugreek, cloves, Dairy, jaggery, lentils, etc.
Who are you targeting as your customer at Varr?
We believe that the onset of covid is a great turning point in the history of India as well as the world. In keeping with our belief that we as humankind need to celebrate and respect what we already have and pause this relentless pursuit of material expansion, we felt that the concept of VARR was apt and contextually relevant to explore now more than ever. There has to be a place for a speciality restaurant like VARR in the Indian landscape which seeks to keep the traditions of our temple food alive and acts as a reminder to our guests of where we come from. Guests who visit us come with the multiple generations of their family together, from 6 to 60 year olds.
How is the response so far?
With the Launch of Varr in November 2020, the concept of serving temple food in a fine dine artesian restaurant was not only welcomed but also accepted and appreciated vastly. In a short span the restaurant has been featured by top publication and reviewed by senior journalist, blogger, public figures and celebrities. The Unquie concept and the service design gives a complete experience making VARR one on TOP 10 Restaurant in Rishikesh based on guest feedback and reviews.
Chef, we see that 2020 has brought a complete change in the behavior of customers. How are you trying hard to meet their demand?
It is good that people are realizing the importance of traditional Indian wisdom in everyday life – be it not to enter the house with ‘outside’ footwear or to have turmeric milk or kadha before hitting the bed. There is an awareness towards ditching the Mojito and having rasam or chaas. And I am ready with more and enough offers for diners to cater to immunity boosting ingredients and foods that seek to balance the ‘Doshas’ whether it be kapha, Vatta or Pitta.
It is believed that local and seasonal will be the biggest hit in the food and beverage biz. Why so?
Yes, if you speak from an Indian context because what is Local to Indian is in fact most scientific way of planning a diet. People are realizing that there is next-to-nill nutrition in that Rambuttan or Dragon fruit that stared its journey 60 days back – when compared to the goodness of a humle local chikoo or guava.