If you could have one cuisine for the rest of your life, I bet it would be Indian food. There is no better feeling than having the creamiest Dal Makhni with butter naan at one of the most loved places in Chandigarh – Dastaan.
Dastaan is a brainchild of Chef Manav Suri & Dilsher Sukhija. The dynamic duo has studied at IHM, Aurangabad (1) where Chef Manav did the culinary course and Dilsher Sukhija did the management course. On realizing that the most preferred cuisine is Indian cuisine, the founders decided to open their very own venture. They believe that Indian cuisine has plenty of options and is loved by all generations of families.
“Everyone needs a change”
– says Dilsher Sukhija.
They studied the food choices of families and realized that people need options, and hence they decided to open Dastaan, offering Indian food with a twist.
“Dastaan offers how Indian Food should be when presented on an international platform.”
– Dilsher Sukhija
Their very own Dastaan
On asking how they came to deciding the name of the restaurant, Sukhija mentioned how Dastaan means a story. He calls this restaurant, a dastan of food. He, with his partner, brainstormed the whole idea for over 8 months and came up with this name. After working on the idea for a year and a half, they opened their restaurant on 13th April 2017, on Baisakhi.
They believe in bringing the right balance between modern Indian and traditional Indian food, stating that they can’t change the flavors much, yet give something different to their customers. Sukhija credits his whole team for understanding their goal and vision. The interiors are traditional, yet modern. They have a wall of carpets, which they traveled all over the country for, some of the prints are from Rajasthan and Haryana. A traditional Indian weave can be also be seen in the restaurant, the weave of the traditional Punjabi cots (‘manji’). They worked with an 85-year-old man, who weaved manjis. He came in every day and finished the beautiful weave in 2 months, which can be seen on the wall and part of the ceiling of the restaurant.
A Progressive Affair
They offer a unique menu, dishes that have western cuisine influence in terms of its plating, and the techniques used. However, they have kept the flavors very Indian. Every dish aims to tell a tale with its garnishes and flavor.
Calling Dastaan the perfect place to dine with the family, Sukhija was prompt to mention how elders of the family always prefer Indian food. He believes that except for the younger generation, families are not very experimental with their food choices. Catering to all the generations, the menu has options for all. Calling their ‘Charcoal Roti’ a bestseller, it was evident that people love the edible charcoal in tandoori roti.
The menu of Dastaan is unique and offers a variety of flavors. Their famous Butter Chicken and Dal Makhni is an all-time favorite of their customers. They also have included 40% of experimental food in their menu, dishes that one won’t see in any other Indian restaurant. These dishes are the specialty of Dastaan, including Palak Paneer Spanakopitas and Dal Makhni Arancini. The traditional food is also served in their own signature presentation.
“We do dishes that we know we can do the best,”
Not just the food, even the drinks are loved by the customers.
“Since people eat with their eyes, then the nose and then their mouth, we realized that whatever we offer should appeal to their eyes. Hence, we have created the drinks so presentable.”
They offer a variety of Cocktails and Mocktails.
The True Meaning of Success!
There are many restaurants serving good Indian food, but Dastaan is preferred over all others.
“What is important is to sell a great experience to people,”
says Dilsher Sukhija.
A good experience includes not just good food and great service, but a lot of other things. The vibe at the restaurant in the evening is different than any other restaurant, from Rajasthani singers and flute artists to the presentation of food, they make Dastaan feels like a familiar-homely place. They believe in guest loyalty and that’s what the team at Dastaan wishes to achieve.
“Having loyal customers means that we are doing everything correctly.”
Hearing positive feedback from their customers is what they call a success.
Nothing Comes Easy!
Everything comes with struggle, and the team at Dastaan feels that you have to go that extra mile to achieve the best. From managing permissions from the government and various other departments for setting up a restaurant to finding the right musicians to play, there has been a lot of hard work and dedication. Their musician Bumbroo, with his team, especially comes from a Maharaj Haweli in Rajasthan for musical nights.
Having a close team helps them make the right decisions since the partners manage the culinary and administration aspects. They also believe that overspending can be a challenge in running the business, and having to spend to right amount is important. Crediting his wife, who is a Chartered Accountant, Sukhija proudly said that she helps him keep the numbers right.
The pandemic has although impacted their business, since guests are scared to step out, Dastaan is taking steps to ensure that there is no cross-contamination of food and basic hygiene and sanitation are taken care of. The team has also ensured that no staff is laid off during these difficult times. They believe that it might take a year for the industry to come back to how it was, but they are ready and prepared for it.
What the Future Holds
The proud founder is also running other ventures including Hotel Icon, and Wokman in Chandigarh, and Panchkula. Sukhija believes that the COVID times are tough but they intend and inspire to grow their Dastaan venture.
Soon, they wish to open other branches in the city and expand their business to other cities as well.