East meets West in modernized Indian cuisine
The menu at Indian restaurant IndeBlue goes far beyond chicken korma and basmati rice.
Chef/owner Rakesh Ramola, originally of Bombay City, India, opened IndeBlue of Philadelphia with the dream of introducing a larger audience to Indian food. And of modernizing the pallet while rooting his dishes in tradition.
The results, says the 25-year hospitality business veteran, have made IndeBlue a “hopping Washington Square restaurant” that serves a broad audience and an even broader cuisine.
“A lot of Indian restaurants in America offer a very traditional and typical menu,” Ramola says. “Menus are limited, and they don’t represent the range of cuisine found in my home country. For example, scallops are very common in southern India, a place known for its seafood. The north is known for its game, and is all meat. What I’ve done with IndeBlue is to offer dishes from throughout India, from shrimp and crab with a coconut, to lobster korma and many others with fine ingredients such as saffron.”
And it’s worked! Since Ramola and his wife Heather opened in 2013, the restaurant has been pulling in customers to sample an exciting array of dishes served in an elegant, upscale venue.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Chef Ramola offers insights into a dream turned into reality.
Q: What is the concept for IndeBlue?
When my wife Heather and I opened in Philadelphia’s Midtown Village in 2013, we dreamed of introducing more people to Indian food. I’m from Bombay City (now Mumbai) and I was raised in India learning to cook the cuisines of the entire country. Before we eventually came to Philadelphia, I received a classical training in India and traveled the world, working as a chef in Kuwait, Cyprus and London. My goal was always to please customers from day one, and to eventually have my own high-end restaurant with modernized cuisine, which is not too heavy or filling.
Q: How does your restaurant differentiate itself from others?
We offer a lot of different dishes which would not be found in a traditional Indian restaurant in America. I’m a very open-minded chef who has learned to be creative and push the limits of the cuisines, while remaining grounded in Indian spices.
I’ve modernized a couple of small plates with the addition of wine and saffron, and have placed a premium on creating a menu that’s on trend with very fresh and healthy foods. We have a lot of competition in our location, with a lot of famous chefs in the area all vying for customers.
Q: How have you attracted customers to your door?
I’ve made it my goal to please customers from Day One. My job is to make them happy, and when they come to my restaurant I make sure they know they’re my priority. We’ve been ranked as one of the best Indian restaurants in the country (Thrillist), and as one of the best Indian restaurants in Philadelphia. We work very hard to bring a new level of modernism and experience to Indian cuisine.
IndeBlue has received numerous awards and glowing press reviews for its innovative menu, which spans from a globally inspired breakfast and brunch to exciting sampler platters as well as fish, meat and vegetable dishes. IndeBlue uses Boxerbrand’s Iridescents line for its table presentation. Thank you!