'We are not bothered about competition'

'We are not bothered about competition'

The restaurant has got my dad’s name on the door, so I really can’t afford to go wrong,” says Zorawar Kalra, who is carrying forward the legacy of his father, Jiggs Kalra —best known as the ‘czar of Indian cuisine’. The restaurant he is talking about is his flagship property, Masala Library(ML) by Jiggs Kalra, that had created a coup of sorts in Mumbai when it was launched in 2013. Riding high on invention and meticulous research, the premium fine dining space was arguably one of the first restaurants to bring the concept of ‘molecular gastronomy’ to India.

But that was three years ago and ever since the contours of food industry have changed drastically. Taking a cue, Kalra has treaded the path carefully by launching multiple properties like Pa Pa Ya and MasalaBar in Mumbai to cater to distinct audience and palates. While they entered Delhi with Farzi Cafe(2014), Kalra’s eyes were always  scouting for the best possible space to launch his flagship restaurant here. “We had to perfect a few things before we opened our second ML,” the founder and managing director, Massive Restaurants, tells Metrolife.

So, Delhi will finally get a taste of the ‘progressive Indian cuisine’ that the restaurant is synonymous with, beginning July 8. And this time, they have pushed the envelope and would be offering Indian cuisine version 4.0. “Three years ago, ML brought Indian version 2.0 to food lovers. Since we believe in pushing boundaries, we are going to introduce new techniques, processes and elements on our Delhi menu. The food is going to be 90 per cent different from Mumbai. We call it Indian cuisine version 4.0,” he adds.

The spacious standalone restaurant is located in central Delhi, opposite Le Meridien and an elated Zorawar describes it as “arguably one of the best locations in the city”. But, the main highlight of the restaurant is going to be its food, which will cover every country in the Indian subcontinent and will introduce “post-molecular” term to food connoisseurs.
“We are going a step beyond by introducing cutting-edge technologies, using lab equipments and bringing processes that were used in a pre-refrigerator era,” he says.

“It is going to be a unique culinary experience because we are going to be the first restaurant to cover every country in the Indian subcontinent. Also, we will have a huge selection from norteast. It is shameful that none of popular restaurants offer that cuisine,” he says.

Research is an important aspect of this hospitality group, which is why the restaurateur ensured that his chefs travelled extensively to all these countries, soaked in local culture and understood different cooking processes, natives to that country before crafting the menu. “We believe in offering flavourful food. Even if we are using different techniques, we ensure that flavours remain intact and taste familiar,” he says.

According to him there have been several copycats in the industry who have tried to replicate ideas he introduced through his chain of restaurants, but Zorawar is least bothered about competition because, for him, the DNA of the brand lies in its uniqueness and innovation.

“The market has increased significantly since we started ML. There are copycats, but then there is a difference —an original is an original for a reason. So, it is important to understand that we are not trying to prove anything to anyone because we know we can do new things again and again,” he says.

“To be frank, we are not bothered about competition, and don’t worry about what others do. We are cognizant of competition, but we are building restaurants that we would like to go to,” he adds.

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