My Experience with Indian Food-Lovers and their Advice – 1 Jul 16

I have surely already mentioned in my blog that Indians are food experts. We have a food culture here in India and we are proud of it. Mothers are the best cooks in nearly every nation, I believe, and in India, they bring this pride of cooking to a completely different level. That makes every son and daughter a food connoisseur of course – or at least that what everyone thinks themselves to be. That’s something I had known all along – but now, being in the restaurant business, I experience this from a whole different perspective!

Indians love giving advice on food! Now my dear Indian readers, please don’t mind the generalization but if you watch your own habits or those of our countrymen in a restaurant, you will notice that it is true! I have lived for a long time with people running restaurants in England, in Germany and other European countries – and really, Europeans act differently in restaurants! They give far less suggestions to the waiters on how food should be!

Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that Indians complain or tend to not like food. No, even if they like the meal they are served, they make suggestions on how it could be even better! Even more than in the restaurants where I went to eat, I am seeing this in our own restaurant: people love our food. I am not saying this to boast, if you see our online reviews, people really do! Nevertheless however, more often than not, our guests provide advice on how a dish could be even better – or how it should actually be correctly prepared in their opinion.

As much as I love getting feedback and new ideas, it sometimes makes me wonder: it happens in questions of taste as well! In this way, one person tells us that their flat bread, the roti, is too crispy while the other one finds it too soft. We were told to make our Shahi Paneer, a dish which usually comes in a lightly sweet sauce, sweeter than it was – and on the next table we were also told the exact opposite, that it should not be sweet at all!

This all simply shows that Indians love food and have their own sense about how it should be. They are real foodies, usually always ready to try something new and not holding back with their opinion and feedback!

Hosting Events like Birthday Parties and Kitty Parties at Ammaji’s – 2 May 16

I have taken not only the task of serving at our restaurant in the evenings but also one more: I am the one managing the waiting list! With a current sitting capacity of 42 people, we are again and again running out of space and people have to wait for a table. I write down their names and call them once their table is free and prepared. The fact that I now do this daily makes one thing very clear: we have to open our first floor as soon as possible!

Yes, now even the afternoons are often getting full: we have a lot of inquiries for ‘Kitty Parties’. For those who don’t know what that is, I will give a quick explanation. As far as I have understood the concept, it is a club of ladies – mostly about twenty of them – who can be friends or just acquaintances, with one or two having the leading role. They make a small monthly contribution to the financial funding of their meetings. At these, they visit a restaurant of their choice, which is obviously now Ammaji’s for many of them, and get together, have snacks or a meal and play a variation of bingo with often hand-made bingo cards.

These parties take place in the afternoons. After that, we now often get reservations for birthday parties or wedding anniversaries! People already know that they cannot just turn up with a group of twenty people and expect to find empty tables! So they call before and reserve their seats, which is nice for us, too. It gives us the possibility to plan in the kitchen and to make the required setting for the amount of people beforehand!

We even got an inquiry by students of the biggest university of the area for catering at their farewell party but we politely declined – we are already involved in so many different activities and have enough to do just at the restaurant without having to worry about how we will get warm food to another place and serve it nicely there! Maybe we will do that another time!

What we do plan already is to have buffet-style options for meals as well, once we have a bigger space for it. There are anyway more plans already, to use a part of our garden for sitting in nature and eating there, for example. With the pathway in the middle removed, it could be a beautiful place that will allow us to host some of those bigger parties that people were already asking for, too!

All of this and all of our plans for the future will work out not only with our own effort and love in this project but also with the great work of our staff! That is something which we always know and that’s how we regularly have meetings with everyone, talking about the events at the restaurant, everything positive and what didn’t go as well – and we feel we are thus on the way to create something really special!

Accepting Challenges of an overwhelming Response at Ammaji’s – 1 May 16

Last week I started telling you about our restaurant and as this is currently the most important project of our lives, I will tell you a bit more about it today and in the next days.

I already told you about our great start with our restaurant. Obviously, as we didn’t expect that many people, we were, in the beginning, under some pressure to accommodate everyone! We quickly had to employ more waiters to be able to serve everyone fast enough. Even with the help of Purnendu, Yashendu, Ramona and me, it was sometimes tough and we all were very exhausted at the end of such an evening! Soon however, we had a few more people and it was getting better.

At the same time however, the kitchen was having similar difficulties: we brought in more staff for cooking, more experienced cooks as well as helpers – but they didn’t have enough space on our existing cooking range! Of course, the person who designed the kitchen was a salesman first, not a cook, and now as it came to practical work and with all the pressure of a full restaurant, it was getting tight. Immediately we ordered a new cooking range and after re-organizing the kitchen a few times, it is now all set and the kitchen is running fast and well, too! We have two expert cooks for each department, so that each of them can take their days off while we can still provide all dishes.

Obviously, all of this means a lot of expenses, too. Especially in the beginning, we knew this would happen and it is normal! We are not looking for the biggest profit however, as this was not the first aim and intention for us to open! We are having the goal of providing best quality at low cost.

That’s how we kept our rates cheaper than other eateries in Vrindavan. Our guests are often surprised about the low cost of their dinner in this beautiful ambiance and with such good taste. We know however that this is how it should be: first, we will show people that healthy food can be very tasty and we will give a practical example of our meals’ quality. About the rates, we can see later and make adjustments. We can see already that people like coming back for more – so much that we will need to expand very soon, finishing our first floor to fit more tables!

With this great response, at least one thing is true: we did advertisement but didn’t have to spend as much on it as expected, because another kind of publicity is going very well for us: the word of mouth. Talk spreads like wildfire in our town that there is one place you have to have eaten at, at least once: Ammaji’s!

How we control the Quality at Ammaji’s – 28 Apr 16

I already told you that we are very involved in our restaurant. Not only do we work there, serving and talking to customers but we also work with the cooks and do one of the most important things in a restaurant: quality control! 🙂

Yes, I believe I already told you this some time: we eat in our restaurant ourselves! My brothers, wife and I had been eating at the restaurant from the very first day it opened. In that time, we were eating from the restaurant’s normal plates. For us this meant that pretty much for the very first time, we were eating from separate plates while actually being at our own home. Whoever has visited us at the Ashram and even those who have seen photos of our meals know that the four of us were otherwise always eating from one big plate!

Obviously, the first days were simply exciting and pretty much everything was new. After a few times eating like this however, we realized that we were missing something, that our eating experience was not as it was before! We quickly understood why: each of us eating from our own plate was what disturbed us! So we returned back to eating from our big plate all together – at the restaurant!

Of course our restaurant guests see that when they eat at the same time. One of them even asked: ‘What kind of thali is this? Is it in the menu, can we order it?’

Not only the fact that we are eating from our Thali but also the fact that we are eating in our restaurant is all is something our guests like. It makes a good impression and at the same time people know that we have so good food that we, too, love eating in our restaurant!

The great thing is that we simultaneously do a quality check on the food cooked in our restaurant and served to our guests! We know what is going on here and we can improve if there is any problem! I have even started tasting food which I would normally never order in a restaurant, so that I can give our cooks feedback on that, too. And of course recommend it to our guests!

Yashendu, Purnendu and I have trained our cooks to cook in a healthier and Ayurvedic way. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen ourselves, making ice cream, teaching our cooks, baking and cooking. And finally we taste it as well – and make sure that it is super tasty!

Feedback by the Guests of Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant – 27 Apr 16

I told you that I, as well as Purnendu and Yashendu, like to talk to our restaurant guests throughout the day. Several of my friends have been interested in what kind of feedback we get from the people eating in our restaurant – and I thought I dedicate one blog entry to a more elaborate answer which can be summarized in one very short sentence as well: they love it!

Really, the overwhelming majority of people really like the food and tell us that it is one of the best meals in a restaurant they ever had! They are happy to have found such a place in Vrindavan and they really appreciate the food. One reason for that? It is different from the food one can normally find in an Indian restaurant. We usually ask people if they would like to have their food spicy or not – because usually our dishes use spices in a moderate amount and no chili at all.

Obviously, western tourists are mostly very happy about this – because regular Indian food is often too spicy for them. They like the fact that they can actually taste nuances in our food which they cannot in other restaurants.

However for locals, too, the food is tasty – exactly because it is different! It is different from the spice they use at home, at the same time it is different from what they get to eat in other restaurants, as we use less fat and make our dishes healthier!

That’s how we see it as our biggest success that local people from Vrindavan and Mathura are coming back! They tell us that it is as though they have been waiting for a place like ours! And that’s how our biggest advertisement is going by word of mouth: people come and eat here and then go and tell their families, relatives and friends about it.

A friend of ours told that he was in a wedding at the weekend and heard others talk ‘Have you been at Ammaji’s already? It’s that great new restaurant!’ Purnendu and Yashendu start experiencing a new kind of fame: ‘Hello, you are the one of Ammaji’s, aren’t you?’ We are local anyway, born and grown up here, so a lot of people know us, but it is a new role and one with which we obviously make a lot of new connections as well! So many, in fact, that it is difficult to remember everyone!

So we have really tons of great feedback! We even made it to be number one of all restaurants listed on TripAdvisor with many great reviews! There is the occasional person who would like to eat spicy and whom we forgot, in the pressure of the evening when up to thirty people are waiting for a table outside in front of our doors, to ask whether they want their meal hot. Obviously, they mention that our dishes were too mild. We listen to that, too, and apologize with the request to come again and give us another chance to prepare their meal according to their taste!

People have, however already told us in their feedback not to change our food at all. They explained that others should develop their taste accordingly – because it is healthier! Well, we are trying to satisfy everyone but of course, it would be healthier to eat mild!

With everything, we are confirmed in what we believed before we even started building the restaurant: this is what Vrindavan needs, a good place to sit, enjoy and eat a good meal. Healthy on top, in beautiful atmosphere! We are just waiting for you to join us here!

Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant is open – Enjoy Food like from your mother’s Hands! – 6 Mar 16

Yesterday was a very important day for us: after two years of building, decorating and preparing, we finally opened Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant!

Of course it was a big day for us, even though we didn’t make any big celebration or event out of it. We are now serving food in the ground floor of the restaurant – and we will give a big party once the first floor is ready and we serve food there! You are however already now more than welcome to come and try our food at Ammaji’s!

Obviously, we were excited! The decision to open was also taken quickly: we had already had our test party in February, eating food in the restaurant for the first time. I told you about that day in another blog post. After that we arranged all those things which we had noticed were missing, employed the staff of that evening and some more, practiced with everyone in the kitchen and showed them how to cook the way food should be prepared and most of all how it should taste in Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant! And there we were, on Friday, with some more things that had to be done but so many ready that we said we would simply take the step and do it: let’s open!

So now you, my readers, our friends at the Ashram, friends in the city of Vrindavan and its surrounding as well as anyone who just comes by or gets to know about us somehow can come to our restaurant and eat there!

We offer North Indian dishes and specialties, South Indian options, a few Chinese items, Italian and continental food like pizza and pasta as well as of course German bakery items and some of our super-tasty home-made ice cream!

In our menu you get to know which items are good for which dosha and you can read about the doshas as well, learning which food would be good for your body constitution. We offer a balanced thali, a selection of Indian dishes on one plate as well. At the same time all our food is cooked in less fat, with moderate spices and in a healthier way than usual in restaurants while keeping all the taste as well!

So we are true to the concept of our name: Ammaji’s. Food like from your mother’s hands. Food like my mother cooked it as well. Food that tastes like the best food you ever eat at home!

Come and try it out – we are looking forward to serving you at Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant!

You can see more pictures and news on Ammaji’s facebook page and I would like to ask everyone who has already made their experience to please write their review on TripAdvisor – we are looking forward to read it!

Good Service makes a good Product even better! – 28 Feb 16

I already told you that Ramona’s school friend was visiting us at the Ashram with her boyfriend and that we would show them around. We did – including last weekend in Jaipur, the beautiful capital of Rajasthan. We saw the sights, did cloth and souvenir shopping to the heart’s content and had some great food as well. One of the best meals was at a place that I had wanted to test when in Jaipur: an organic café.

It was really a café, not a restaurant, so when we reached there shortly past seven, they already told us that we only had about one hour before they would close. We wanted to taste their food however and answered that it would be enough time for us to eat!

All this place’s dishes were standing ready in their display: there were salads and small pizzas, some noodle dishes and bread with dips. We looked through the items and each selected something different, so that we finally had a good mixture of items on the table.

Looking at the food, I had mixed feelings. Anyway, I had known that they didn’t cook Indian food but I was really unsure whether I would like the taste. Additionally, the waiters were not the most friendly I had ever met. On the tables, too, there were strange signs which told you to please share tables with people waiting and to please leave once you were done eating… how welcoming!

But: even shortly before closing time, there were several people in there for food and once the food arrived, I was convinced!

It was really great food! You could taste the freshness and we indulged in a truly wonderful taste!

Obviously, one reason for us to go was because we are planning to open Ammaji’s Ayurvedic Restaurant with options for organic food soon as well! We wanted to see how others give out organic food and maybe get some ideas for ourselves.

For us, this visit confirmed that we are having a great idea that will work – and we will even provide good service, which this place didn’t, making the experience beautiful for every person who comes to eat here! Yes, we will not start switching off lights and practically being rude to those who are eating in our restaurant, as it happened there – and about the food, I don’t really worry!

Full of ideas, enthusiasm and energy for starting soon we have returned – and I am sure soon I will be able to give you the good news of our opening!