Bringing the taste of Delhi to Brno – The story of Namaskar – Brno Daily
Melis Karabulut’s series features some of Brno’s foreign entrepreneurs to explore the challenges of running a business in a foreign country. This week, she spoke with Krishan Gopal, owner of two Indian restaurants in Brno and another in Bohemia. Photo credit: MK/BD.
Whether it’s your personal taste or not, we all know that Asian cuisine is a big part of the Czech Republic’s international culinary scene. But as the choice and variety of Asian dishes increases in Brno and across the country, you might struggle to find the authentic taste that belongs to its people. As I was looking for that authenticity and an inspiring story, Krishan Gopal warmly Namaskar in his restaurant on the corner of Smetanova and Veveří, where he shares the spices and taste of Delhi with his customers. His assistants Akhil Mahajan and Dilshad Shaik, a couple, were also there to contribute their ideas.
Mr. Gopal is yet another dedicated entrepreneur I have met who has enduring strength and a very positive mindset against all problems in business and in life. He owns a Namaskar restaurant in Příbram, a small town in Bohemia, and two other Namaskar restaurants in Brno, which will soon open its third. Although he has been successful so far in his restaurant endeavors, like many others, he has been through sunny and rainy days.
At the time, when he was working as a chef in a restaurant in India, he had no intention or idea of moving abroad. In 2010, his life changed when a friend offered him a job opportunity in Brno, which he accepted. Mr. Gopal was recognized as a successful cook, which allowed him to work in several different restaurants in the city. He has helped more and more Indian restaurants to thrive here, and offered to help with menus, design and concept. Later, he decided to open his first restaurant in Příbram, to bring Indian culture and cuisine to a different place. Initially, however, his business did not prosper there, as there was more demand for international food in cosmopolitan cities like Prague or Brno.
He then decided to pursue his business dreams in Brno. Over the years, through hard work and dedication, he managed to open two more restaurants, one in Židenice, one in Veveří, soon to be joined by one in Nove Sady and hopefully one in Austria in the near future . He is the proud owner and still the chef of these restaurants. Although he receives help from his people, Mr Gopal works more than 12 hour days to manage 14 staff, monitoring his kitchens to ensure the food remains authentic to Delhi, while he carries out the duties of her husband and father for his Czech wife and 18 month old baby. Although he has many responsibilities in his daily life, he derives joy from it, and the burden and fatigue disappear. “Taking care of my business and my employees is my ‘me time’,” he says, “I feel happiest when I share my food with others, it gives me the satisfaction I need. This way, the workload doesn’t bother me at all.
The 37-year-old business owner tells me he named his restaurants “Namaskar” (“hello” in Hindi and other languages) because he usually greets customers with that word and wants to create a welcoming environment. However, his fourth restaurant in Nove Sady will be called Delhi 6, a reminder of his hometown. “All of my restaurants offer the traditional Indian cuisine that we are proud of, as does Delhi 6. We are also planning to serve takeaway food there, which is our new initiative. As Delhi is a crowded city and our capital, people usually don’t have time to sit down and eat when rushing to work. so they just grab a quick bite to eat on the commute or at the office. We will bring in specialties that will serve this purpose, as Brno is growing and also getting busier,” he says.
In addition to the catering business, Mr. Gopal sells Indian food at festivals and also organizes Indian celebrations with his friend Akhil such as Diwali and Holi. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to gather hundreds of expats from India and around the world to join their events, where they served Indian food the way Indians like it – spicy! “The level of Indian spiciness may not be for everyone, but people still love our food and are interested in our culture, and are happy to experience it,” says Akhil. They tell me that these celebrations are always great fun, as people exercise their talents, sing, dance, pray, color, eat and cherish the culture. They are keeping their fingers crossed for the upcoming Holi celebration on March 19.
With nearly 20 years of cooking experience, Mr. Gopal has worked hard to improve his recipes over the years and serve with consistent quality. Once a week, he cooks in his restaurants to maintain his muscles and control the quality of the kitchens. His spices and rice are imported through European suppliers with ties to India, and he doesn’t mind spending the extra money to get the real ingredients. “I care a lot about quality and I think mine is among the best Indian rice in Brno!” he says. Even though Indian food in Central Europe needs to be cooked with less oil and spices due to customer tastes, Mr. Gopal strives to keep his recipes as authentic to India as possible. Its butter chicken, korma and vegetarian kefta are some of the most popular dishes.
He tells me that the majority of his customers are regulars who have frequented his restaurants for years. The reason for this is his friendly and generous approach towards customers, which is another Indian value he likes to uphold. “In India, restaurant owners offer surprise discounts, free soup, drinks or desserts to customers to show kindness and entice them to come back. This makes the customer feel valued. I keep the same tradition here, because I would like my customers to have the real experience. In fact, it has proven itself so well that it has given me repeat customers and friends. Many of my friends in Brno used to be my clients, and now we do things together, help each other and have fun. Thanks to that, I found a new family here,” he says, while Akhil and Dilshad agree with a smile.
Mr. Gopal adds that this friendly service cannot be experienced by delivery services. “When COVID-19 hit, in order for my businesses to survive, of course I had to partner with delivery services. Regardless of government support, that was the only option. My regular customers continued to support me, but as we lost the busy lunch hours when we were serving many people on the premises, our business suffered. While this partnership is essential, it leaves us with little profit. Almost 40% of what we charge the customer goes to the delivery service considering other costs such as getting ingredients, cooking, paying employees, rent and bills i can honestly say our profit is around 15% At the same time, since Indian food is crispy, there is a high chance that the customer will receive a food package with the food spilled everywhere.Even though we try our best to pack the n food, it is sometimes unavoidable because the couriers move in the city. It creates dissatisfaction and we have to cover the damage. As we want to be known for the quality of our food and our generous service, we would like to invite customers to visit us in Namaskar. He points out that even though his business is getting back on track from last year, he would appreciate seeing more expat customers visiting Namaskar.
You can sample Delhi’s celebrity chef in Brno at Táborská 456/157 or 341/3 Smetanova, open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, while weekend hours may vary.https://brnodaily.com/2022/02/06/lifestyle/expat-entrepreneurs-bringing-the-taste-of-delhi-to-brno-the-story-of-namaskar/https://brnodaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Mr.-Gopal-credit-MK-BD-1024×768.jpghttps://brnodaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Mr.-Gopal-credit-MK-BD-150×113.jpgComics MagazineBrno Expats,Business,Food,ForeignersMelis Karabulut’s series features some of Brno’s foreign entrepreneurs to explore the challenges of running a business in a foreign country. This week, she spoke with Krishan Gopal, owner of two Indian restaurants in Brno and another in Bohemia. Photo credit: MK / BD.Whether it’s your personal taste or…Melis KarabulutMelis
Karabulut[email protected]AuthorPublished author from Turkey, English teacher, European politics master student, aid worker, dancer. Beyond that, a passionate about the Czech language and the people who speak it. Mainly creative, sometimes political. A big fan of Luzanky Park and Petrov.Brno Daily