Ashok Bajaj could have lunch brought to his office from the nearby Rasika, so it was surprising to spot an Amy’s Indian frozen meal box on his desk. Turns out one of Washington’s most prominent restaurateurs doesn’t have a taste for microwavable mattar paneer, but instead is in the early stages of planning a line of frozen dinners inspired by chef Vikram Sunderam’s dishes at Rasika.
“We want to do it right,” says Bajaj, who’s also known for such polished spots as Bibiana, the Bombay Club, and Ardeo + Bardeo. The Amy’s dinner was just a sample to check out the competition—when it comes to inspiration, Bajaj is looking to British companies like Sainsbury’s, which has a highly popular line of prepared foods.
It wasn’t too long ago that shoppers at Whole Foods could pick up Rasika-brand base sauces for cooking curries at home. They’ve since been discontinued—sales were steady, but Bajaj wanted more control over the production—and the new project will up the convenience level to unwrap-and-zap. Don’t expect the restaurant’s signature black cod, though—the duo will most likely stick to easily replicable classics such as chicken makhani and dal.
It may be some time until Rasika dinners hit the market. With Rasika West End opening in March, Bajaj and Sunderam have their plates full finalizing menu details and supervising the build-out. A producer for the frozen meals has yet to be chosen, and once one is picked, there’ll be a back-and-forth period for testing recipes to get the formula right. Stay tuned.