Chai Corner’s authentic Indian street food – in a Rational Combi Steamer

“Many products are even better than in a traditional tandoor”

Street food has rocketed in popularity in recent years – the combination of flavour, authenticity and freshness catching the mood of the times. So it’s no surprise that Chai Corner, an Indian street food restaurant in the heart of the Shopping Centre in Croydon, is so successful. What is surprising is that instead of using the traditional tandoor oven, the restaurant specified a combi steamer to prepare all its barbequed food. According to Director, Neelofar Khan, the moistness and quality of the classic recipes prepared in the Rational SelfCookingCenter® whitefficiency®, such as chicken tikka and malai boti, has given business a real boost.

Chai Corner is part of an award-winning chain – gongs include a British Curry Award and the House of Commons Tiffin Cup – so food quality and authenticity is very much on the menu. “From the spices to the homemade sauces to the cooking, we take great pride in showing the variety and tradition of the Indian palette,” says Mrs Khan. “We want people to experience the pleasurable assault on the senses that exemplifies Indian street food.”

Chai Corner’s menu includes traditional Indian street foods such as tikka, tandoori, malai boti, hari boti and seekh kebabs, in keeping with the grab and go street food ethos. In addition it offers a variety of Indian-style wraps, which are very popular with locals.

“We have found that for many products, the Rational is actually better than the traditional tandoor – plus, of course, it’s much more versatile,” says Mrs Khan. “Since we’ve had the Rational, customer service times have been reduced and business has grown steadily– the succulence it gives chicken and other meats is a major factor.”

Food quality wasn’t the only reason for going with the Rational. “We are in a shopping centre, with limited space, and we have an open kitchen. The Rational is on show at all times, it’s always clean and tidy and looks great. Plus, it is multifunctional, so we don’t need lots of other cooking equipment. The small footprint really helps.”

The restaurant cooks around 50% of its food in the Rational, a ten-grid table top unit (model number SCC WE 101). “We are looking at producing more food in the SelfCookingCenter,” says Mrs Khan. “We are experimenting with keema naan and have had some very promising results. We are looking at other stuffed naans and also curries.”

Along with its takeaway business Chai Corner’s has 25 covers, and the combi steamer also provides some of the food for another restaurant in the group, the Chilli Chutney, which is nearby. With just six members of staff, speed and ease of operation are vital. “We are the only place in the area doing this type of Indian street food, and sometimes we get very, very busy. Our chefs love the Rational because it’s so fast and easy to use – they can leave it to cook the tikka while they get on with other tasks.”

To cope with demand Chai Corner usually bulk cooks in the Rational. One of the unit’s latest features, HiDensityControl, helps maximise output, with its patented dynamic air mixing technology. This precisely controls the speed of the unit’s fan to channel the heat and humidity to exactly where they are needed, which means all the food in the cabinet, from top to bottom, is cooked totally consistently. HiDensityControl not only delivers outstanding cooking quality, but also allows chefs to maximise output, since they can load up to 30% more food into the same size cooking cabinet, compared to previous models. It also reduces energy consumption by up to 20% compared to the previous model.

Before buying the Rational, Neelofar Khan attended a Rational CookingLive demonstration, where she was convinced of its potential. “The company gives excellent onsite training and support – our Rational representative is absolutely wonderful and a great help.” Whilst the unit can be used as a manual combi steamer, chefs at Chai Corner use the SelfCooking controls, which are programmed to cook the restaurant’s recipes. “We can achieve perfect results at the touch of a button, even on the signature dishes. It’s foolproof!

“We want the Chai Corner ‘package’ to embody the very same sensations that people travel to India to experience – from listening to Mumbai’s most popular radio station in the background, to reading the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore on the wall, to enjoying the variety of tastes and flavours.

“Our Rational combi steamer is helping us achieve that goal.”

For information and brochures, or to arrange to come to a free SelfCookingCenter® whitefficiency® ‘Rational CookingLive’ seminar, contact your dealer, freephone Rational UK on 0800 389 2944 or see Visit the iPhone store for the Rational SCC Expert App.      

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Chai Corner.docx – May-13

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