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Rasoi: The Indian Restaurant That's Winning Over Rhode Islanders

By Pamela Sosnowski

When you think of Rhode Island, you probably think of seafood, not Indian cuisine. But Rasoi - one of three Indian restaurants in the Pawtucket/Providence area - seems to be changing that.

Diners are raving about Rasoi, an Indian restaurant in Pawtucket. The proof is in the overwhelmingly positive reviews posted online by customers who keep returning to Rasoi to enjoy its tasty, authentic cuisine, so much so that TripAdvisor recently awarded the restaurant with a Certificate of Excellence.

That should please owner and head chef Sanjiv Dhar, who is well-versed in bringing Indian cuisine to Rhode Island. A graduate of Johnson and Wales, he also owns the restaurants Kabob and Curry in Providence, and Rasa in East Greenwich. "Rasoi has been open for almost nine years and it gives the community around us an opportunity to experience authentic food, Bollywood music and Indian hospitality where each customer is a guest in our home," says Dhar.

The 85-seat restaurant beckons hungry patrons with its marigold-colored walls, contrasting bright blue chairs, and warm lighting. All diners have unobstructed views of the kitchen and in fact, the restaurant gets its name from the Hindi word for kitchen. An open, family kitchen that welcomes all guests is what Dhar had in mind when he opened the establishment.

Rasoi's menu - while offering a lot of traditional items such as samosas, chicken tikka, and lamb saag - puts a focus on coastal cuisine of India, where food is traditionally boiled and steamed instead of fried and customers have control of how spicy they want their meal to be. There are several vegetarian entrees available, as well as a vegan brunch on Saturdays and a Sunday regional brunch. Food may be ordered online for home delivery or pick-up, and the restaurant also offers catering services. Says Dhar, "The food stays authentic because we are able to retain our chefs and the rest of the crew who have learnt our kitchen production system. We follow basic recipes that our chefs have mastered through repetition."

Dhar and his team pride themselves on extending their hospitality beyond the restaurant and into Pawtucket's community by getting involved with local events. "We are always trying to help the community around us by donating food, advertising at the local theater, and sponsoring sports camps," he says. "Our business attracts a lot of people from neighboring communities, so we are very proud of our association with Blackstone Tourism council which promotes historic landmarks in the city of Pawtucket." The restaurant also presents monthly cooking demonstrations and recently sponsored an evening with author Mira Jacob, where they supplied some of their most popular appetizers and entrees to guests.

Dhar has every intention of continuing to provide excellent food and service to the Pawtucket community. "We have three locations and a catering business, and we are currently working very hard to put the right systems in place so that we are able to provide consistent food and service at all our locations," he says. "If you set up good systems and surround yourself with competent people, who are willing to change, and adapt, and firmly believe in the mission plan of an organization, then good things happen."

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