By Christine Lavelle
IT’S not often you find an Indian restaurant in a tour guide to Scotland, but chefs at one Edinburgh eatery have cracked it with their very own original idea.
Owners of the Suruchi restaurant designed and developed a menu with a difference – it has been translated into traditional Scots tongue.
Diners are welcomed by friendly waiters wearing tartan waistcoats and can opt for the menu which rates dishes as “nippie” or “nae oer nippie.”
Each menu option comes with a Scottish description to give local customers a better understanding of the spicy flavours.
The salmon tikka is detailed as: “The king of fush, the best of Scotland an it gaes weel wi Indian spices. Grillit tae perfection in the tandoor.”
And the chicken kebab is described as: “Sappie wee dauds o chicken steepit in nae ower nippie spices, skewerit an barbecued in the tandoor.”
So whether it is a dish with “mair nor twinty ingredients gang inti it” or “the pooerfu sonsie cookin far the Punjab” you’re after, staff at the Indian in Edinburgh will know what you’re talking about.
Staff say the veggie haggis fritters are a favourite among diners – said on the menu to be “a richt mixin o Scotland wi India.
“Vegetarian haggis in a crispy gram flooer batter. This sterter’s a weel liked yin.”
Anil Rakas has managed Suruchi’s two restaurants for over two years and said since bringing in the new menu style three months ago, customers often request a photocopy to take home or to send to ex-pat relatives abroad.
The firm has long been fighting to have its name featured Scottish tourism guides but had always been denied because there was nothing particularly “Scottish” about their outlets.
He said: “The menu was a collective idea – all the chefs and staff have contributed with ideas for dishes and what ingredients we use.
“That’s the other thing – as well as translating the menu into the traditional Scottish language, we use a lot of Scottish produce in our dishes.
“We have experimented with salmon and haggis, and seasonal strawberries as they are hard to come by in India.
“Once we had our initial idea the bosses got their heads together to think of the best way to plan it.
“Now we are in lots of the Scottish guide books as a place to eat when you are in Edinburgh, we have been highly recommended.”
He said: “I don’t know how many photocopies we have had to make, but we constantly run out because everyone is so impressed by it.
“There are so many regions in India so most people speak a few languages, all of the staff here can speak at least five.
“Everyone enjoys sending copies over to friends and relatives who have immigrated to places like Australia and America.”
But – Mr Rakas said the Scots menu is more than just a bit of fun – because the business treats its place in Scottish culture seriously.
He said: “We live here and we love it, we want to embrace all the things Scotland has to offer.
“And being in Edinburgh at this time of year when the festival is on is brilliant because there are so many tourists around looking to soak up the atmosphere.”
Suruchi on Nicolson Street has been open for 18 years, while its sister restaurant in Constitution Street, Leith has been trading for ten.
It featured in the Independent newspaper’s Top 10 Indian restaurants in the UK this year.
Mr Rakas said they hope to continue to coming up with and launching new innovative ideas.
The restaurant in Leith often holds afternoon sessions with kids from local primary schools, teaching them how to cook Indian food.
He said: “We have held a lot of cooking classes with primary six kids, where they come in for half a day and learn to stuff samosas and to prepare dishes.
“They have given us a great reception so far – lots of the kids don’t know how to cook before they come in and when they leave they know how to make Indian food.”
Mr Rakas said any famous Indian people visiting Scotland tend to eat in his restaurant because it is the food most closely reflected to that of their home country.
He said: “One of the biggest stars of Bollywood – Shahruk Khan – swears by this place, he is the equivalent to Hollywood’s Tom Cruise so we are always honoured to have him here.”