Taj Indian Cuisine - Indu
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.
I came to Canada in 1974 to help my family after my father passed away. I have a double master's in Indian Classical dance and History Art. I am a big foodie, love to dance and listen to music. I have two girls who are my best friends and an adorable grandson.
This journey began early 90's when my manager at Bell Canada said, "Indu go live your dream". I said, "What dream?!". She said, "To open your restaurant".
What inspired you to open a family restaurant?
My two girls and my passion for cooking inspired me to open my family restaurant. I basically opened the restaurant for my brother in 1987 and then the universe spoke.
30+ years – congratulations! How have things changed since you first opened in 1987?
Thank you to Ottawa and all past, present and future Taj family members for helping create 30 plus years for Taj.
So many things have changed. First, I added mirrors when I first bought the restaurant to make this tiny place look spacious. Then after 10 years, I got a website, Social Media and now we use different delivery platforms like skipthedishes, ubereats or doordash to help spread our delicious food across the city. These platforms are very helpful, we get customer feedback which we are very actively reading and that help us to continue to maintain and build our strong relationships with our extended family (the customers).
How would you describe “North Indian Punjabi Style Cooking”?
I am a musical foodie punjabi and my definition of this style of cooking is musical. I mix spices like musical tracks and smell, instead of listening to a dish with flavours that have no words. Generally speaking North Indian Punjabi Style cooking has standard spices that are used and methods that have been passed down from generations. My dad taught me how to cook when I was 7.
Why is hospitality and customer service so important to you?
This is the way I grew up. I try my best to make sure all customers who enter through our doors are treated like "family" and make food according to our clients food palettes. You have to be authentic and in the food business you need to remember to be yourself and treat others the same way you would want to be treated.
What is your favourite item on your menu?
I love the Butter Chicken, so do many of my clients. I learned last year through a contest my daughter organized that we have sold over 2.6 million Butter Chicken dishes since we opened. I couldn’t believe it!
A few other dishes I also love are Channa Bhatura, egg plant. and one of my favourites my Alu Gobi.
There are so many unique restaurants in Ottawa – what is it like being a part of that community?
We are so humbled to be a part of this community. It is unique for a restaurant to have customers direct us how they want their food. For example, after a customer visits us and understands our philosophy, they either come in and tell us I want a dish without salt, or without onion and we say no problem. I find this to be so sweet. Also, we have customers who have been coming to us for over 25 years.
When you’re not busy working, where is your favourite place in Ottawa to go to?
I love to drive, so I go to the mall and have a nice coffee and read some news. I love going to the Bayshore salon and get my hair done and I enjoy Thai food.. But my favourite place right now is to go home and spend time with my 7 month old grandson.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to play with my grandson, watch the stock market in the morning and CNN. I enjoy understanding how other businesses are performing and learn new things. I love to read self help books and cook new recipes that I developed and go out and eat at different restaurants with my daughter.
Any words of advice for someone who wants to open their own restaurant?
When you open up any business make sure it is your passion and something that makes you happy. Remember that it is hard work and that you need to listen to your customers and staff. I will be developing a course to help new restaurant owners understand do's and don't about how to open their own restaurant.