Chef Rakesh Ramola picked up his cooking skills both in India and the U.S. He brings bright, traditional Indian dishes to Indeblue, which has locations in Midtown Village and Collingswood, N.J. But he also turns tradition on its side with some unexpected flavors. We spoke with Ramola about juggling two restaurants, and "adding a touch of Indian flare" to our area.
Where does the name Indeblue come from? My wife Heather and I were looking for a name that hinted at the type of cuisine we wanted to serve – traditional and modern Indian. Coming up with the name was a family collaboration. Our original Indeblue location in Collingswood was painted bright blue by the previous tenant. After seeing the space, our oldest daughter came up with "India Blue," which eventually turned into Indeblue.
How does the Collingswood location differ in feel from the Midtown Village location? Our Collingswood location is more casual dining — we know many of our regular guests by name. Here we offer a monthly special menu, which is exciting to create for our guests because I’m able to experiment by using unique and exotic ingredients not commonly found on our regular menus. Our Midtown Village location is more elegant, with a modern decor that fits well in the vibrant neighborhood. For our brunch menu, we feature traditional breakfast and lunch dishes that I remember my mother making for me when I was growing up in India. I enjoy taking traditional brunch items and adding a touch of Indian flare.
Do you work at both locations? I make sure I’m in the kitchen of both locations at some point, every day. Early mornings are spent in Collingswood assisting my chefs in preparation and ensuring quality and consistency. During the evenings I divide my time between both restaurants depending on costumer volume, events or caterings.
Do you have a favorite bar or restaurant near you? Heather and I really enjoy Zeppoli, which is located across the street from Indeblue in Collingswood. Joey [Baldino] is a great guy and his food is delicious.