Cinnamon Bazaar

Picture the setting: bold colours, hand-painted graphics, hanging lanterns and the enticing smell of aromatic herbs and spices…

For an authentic experience of Indian bazaar street food or Chaat, look no further than the Cinnamon Bazaar in London’s Covent Garden. A bazaar is a meeting place to get together and share food, so it was the perfect place to catch up with Rakesh Nair, Group Development and Training Chef, to find out more about the concept…

 

How does the Indian bazaar translate into your food?

Rakesh: It all stems from moving the outdoor market inside. We focused on a range of Chaat dishes that bring street food into a restaurant environment. In bazaars, street food is all about speed! Serving your customers quickly, so there are no queues. Our Chaat menu is based on this principle and Harvest plates were perfect for the rustic feel we wanted to create – fine china just wouldn’t feel right!

OK… So, what kind of ingredients can we expect in your dishes?

Rakesh: We incorporate cultural influences from all over the world including old trading routes through India and the Middle East – you will even see a link to Chinese food in our stir fries! Chaat are small sharing dishes that can be customised to taste using 10-15 prepared ingredients. There are two or three hot and cold dishes inspired by traditional street food on our menu, but we have added our own take and modernised it. The Watermelon Chaat is a great example of this.

What makes a dining experience here different?

Rakesh: To us, it’s all about meeting to share food and conversation with friends and family – that is what creates the bazaar atmosphere. Whether you want a few nibbles and a coffee, or a meal – all are welcome!

What does your role here involve?

Rakesh: Well, I am always on the move across the group, introducing new menus and training our staff how to make the dishes – we all work together and change our menus on a regular basis. At the moment, for example, we are rolling out 4 different menus for Holi, the festival of colour, so I am very busy making sure everything is OK in our restaurants.

What is important to you in your role here?

Rakesh: Without a doubt, the provenance of our spices. We have great relationships with local suppliers, but local spices have a different flavour because of variations in the climate. For that reason, we obtain all our spices from India to make sure that the aromas and flavours are authentic.

Are there any trends currently influencing your menus?

Rakesh: Trends and fashions change! What is important to us is sustainability. We are really proud that the Cinnamon Club holds a 3 Star rating awarded by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Respect for the environment is critical in our trade and we need to make sure we play our part.

 

Service at the Cinnamon Bazaar
Harvest enhances the rustic feel at Cinnamon Bazaar