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Rehan Uddin: This is how smart Asian cuisine can be

By: Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Rehan Uddin is the figurehead of a new generation of Asian-inspired chefs. At his restaurant Indi-Yang, he shows how fast, efficient and yet delicious a professional kitchen can suddenly be thanks to RATIONAL cooking systems – and why we can also talk about smart food here.

Rehan Uddin and onions, now that’s a rather complicated story. As a virtuoso of Indian cuisine, he can’t do without them. But as a representative of a new generation of Indian chefs, they also sometimes get on his nerves. “Many Indian restaurants simply use too much of it,” says the RATIONAL ambassador for the United Kingdom. That’s why he launched a campaign called “No more BS!” in 2021. In this case, BS stands for bloated stomach – and refers to a well-known side effect that can occur after visiting an Indian restaurant. The declared aim of Uddin’s campaign: Indian cuisine needs to become easier to digest – and can achieve this by adding just a little less onion.


Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an


Ein Beitrag geteilt von Indi-Yang Torquay (@indiyangtorquay)

Sounds amusing, but also a bit irrelevant, doesn’t it? But here’s the thing: For Uddin, it’s about much more than just the onions. And the BS campaign is just one of the many activities of this ambitious chef, who has made a name for himself with his restaurant Indi-Yang in Torquay, England. After all, Rehan Uddin has embraced the modernization of Indian cuisine.

Rehan Uddin’s Indi-Yang attracts guests and colleagues

“The same applies to Indian restaurants here in England as to many other Asian restaurants: most guests think they are interchangeable,” explains the son of a restaurateur couple. What’s missing is individuality. He adds, “Many recipes have evolved over the decades to suit the British palate. However, I think we should all express our own culinary identity more – and orient ourselves towards the best restaurants in the world rather than the preferences of the masses.”

As he writes, the first lesson he had to learn in his young career was how incredibly difficult it is to find skilled workers who want to work in his restaurant.

In 2018, Uddin established a network called ARON, which stands for Asian Restaurant Owner Network. Almost 3,000 restaurants across England have joined – and Uddin has become a strong voice for Asian gastronomy in England. This is also because he leads by example. In his restaurant, he celebrates pan-Asian cuisine that not only delights his guests, it also regularly attracts gastronomy colleagues from the ARON network to Torquay. Why? Uddin has created a system that is not only more profitable than most other restaurants of this type, but also one with an impressively high level of culinary quality and guest experience. This is possible because at the beginning of 2023, Uddin optimized his entire kitchen processes by switching to two Rational cooking systems: the iCombi and the iVario.

Delicious, healthy and super-quick – simply smart

“Smart food dining” is what Uddin calls Indi-Yang. The food is smart for guests because it is fresh, healthy and wholesome. However, it’s just as smart for chefs because it can be prepared quickly, sustainably and with little staff. “In contrast to gas cookers or tandoor ovens, the energy costs are much lower with our two combi-steamers. Nevertheless, I have the impression many of my gastronomy colleagues have to see with their own eyes how this all works here so that they can truly understand the sustainable benefits of these “new” technologies.” And they definitely can deliver.

“Our processes are now so fast that we deliberately wait a few minutes to prepare the food so that guests don’t think they’re getting ready-made meals from the microwave,” says Uddin with a laugh. There are currently just two full-time employees in the kitchen – Uddin himself and his sous-chef. Up to 80 portions per service are cooked here – stress-free, as Uddin emphasizes. It goes without saying that a forward-looking mise en place is the basis for such a well-functioning system. However, it doesn’t explain everything. “We always prepare the protein sources fresh,” explains Uddin. “This is because we want all the nutrients to be preserved – and it just tastes good as well. This isn’t at all a problem in terms of time: The longest source of protein we have to cook fresh takes exactly four minutes and 30 seconds. We add a maximum of 60 seconds for the plating. That means it takes no more than six minutes for me to cook a main course.” Amazing when you compare it to the waiting times in other restaurants. But how exactly does this work?

Rehan Uddin has a network for Asian chefs

Image: Rehan Uddin

Rehan Uddin: optimized kitchen processes are key

The sauces form the basis of many dishes. “We pre-cook 25 liters of six sauces, such as madras curry sauce or masala sauce. We do it all with the iVario. These sauces alone allow me to offer many dishes on my menu, as they play an important role in a variety of seemingly different dishes. Using the iVario, we also thaw these sauces in a bain-marie – and then everything goes very quickly.”

However, Rehan Uddin doesn’t mean here that everyone is freaking out. Instead, he’s referring to preparing the previously mentioned fresh source of protein, which in most cases is meat. This is now cooked in the iCombi – faster, fresher, more precisely and, above all, more reliably than in the pan of old. “At that time, you had to heat the pan, add the oil, bring a little stock to a boil, then add the spices and garlic, carefully roast and turn the meat, check the cooking point – and finally put the pan in the dishwasher. And all this for just one dish!” The cooking method in the iCombi, which is designed for each individual type of meat, also has another advantage. Rather than being pre-cooked hours in advance and then reheated, as is still common in many restaurants, the meat is only cooked once. According to Uddin, this not only involves significantly more work steps, it also destroys the meat’s nutritious protein structure. “This is how we make chicken madras,” he explains. “The chicken goes into the steamer, after a few minutes it’s ready, it’s put directly on the plate, the warm Madras sauce from the iVario comes on top, then the garnish – and that’s it. It’s quite different from when we used to have a gas stove and an oven.”

Rehan Uddin: alone in the kitchen

Particularly over the past year, many chefs and restaurateurs at Asian-inspired restaurants have become increasingly fascinated by Uddin’s system – in part because they learned about it through the ARON network. “Many are looking for new, more efficient and cost-effective ways to survive in these times of crisis with their price increases and staff shortages,” he explains. At the same time, he also warns, “If you don’t switch to smart systems now, you probably won’t make it in 2024. In my opinion, the economic situation is simply too tense for this.” Rehan Uddin and his Indi-Yang are in a good position anyway. In the next few weeks, says the shrewd chef, he will even be able to run the kitchen on his own while his sous-chef is on the road in Asia. “That will be absolutely no problem,” he says confidently. “Even though I would never have dreamed of it before. But the iCombi and iVario actually make it possible.”

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