Natural Indian Restaurant NATARAJ
〜Fresh Vegetables From Their Organic Farm~

Indian Vegetarian Restaurant NATARAJ Masako Saikawa

Interviewed by Saito Cecilia Kaoru Artist /Zen Food Researcher/Vegan Recipe Designer

Cecilia K: I’ve been a huge fan of NATARAJ for over a decade. Could you tell us about the concept of your restaurant?

Madam Masako: We want to provide “healthy vegetarian dishes that are joyous to the body, pleasing after eating, and fulfilling for the body and mind,” in home-style cooking that is delicious and satisfying.

Cecilia K: I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for 11 years. More and more actors, athletes, and artists are becoming vegan and this diet that ties in vegetarianism with creativity and lifestyle is attracting attention. There are many IT experts in India who are vegetarians. Why did you start this vegetarian restaurant and what are the benefits of the vegetarian diet?

Madam Masako: A vegetarian diet is friendly to the Earth. If a person goes on a vegetarian diet for a year, it saves 400kg of greenhouse gas. I imagine that you became a vegetarian because as an artist, your energy is projected on your artwork. Vegetarianism gives you a sharp sense. It brings out your true potential, creativity, performance, and enriches your life. Your body and mind is strongly affected by what you eat.

Cecilia K: Where do you procure your ingredients?

Madam Masako: We grow our own vegetables and our farmland adds up to 9900 square meters. At the Yamanashi farm, we grow delicious vegetables using the rich water source that is available in that area. We grow leafy vegetables year around at the farm in Shirahama, Chiba because we can get plenty of sunlight there. We also use high grade additive-free canola oil and organic brown rice that is a great match with curry and has detox effects and health benefits.

Cecilia K: The green colored vegan nan is very popular, isn’t it?

Madam Masako: Our Nan is all made with flour from Hokkaido and they are leavened with natural Hoshino yeast. I think we are the only Indian restaurants that serve these types of special Nan. The green color comes from Japanese mustard spinach.

Cecilia K: Tell us about your main chef that creates the taste of all 5 NATARAJ branches.

Madam Masako: Our main chef is Sadanand. His talent and gentle personality are manifested on the dishes. We do not use chemical seasonings, additives, or preservatives and our philosophy is based on Ayurveda (balanced diet leads to a healthy body). Spices used for Indian dishes have health benefits such as cleansing the blood, relieving intestinal ailments, helping digestion, and warming up your body. We put our hearts in all of our handmade vegetarian dishes.

Cecilia K: We are expecting more customers from abroad toward 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What is the hospitality of NATARAJ?

Madam Masako: Our vegan, macrobiotic, halal, and allergy-free dishes like gluten-free are served with the greatest care. In addition, we put effort into serving a wide variety of dishes and making menus easy to understand. We serve many overseas diners and famous Japanese performers who are considerate about their diet. Our staff can speak English and Hindi.

Cecilia K: The Ginza branch is decorated with genuine Indian art, pottery, wooden sculpture, and miniatures that are a feast for the eyes. I personally love Indian art so I truly enjoy the interior design.

Madam Masako: The Ginza branch is intended to be an artistic atmosphere composed of Indian art. Our Tateshina branch has a museum that displays terracotta made by Indian ceramic artists.

Cecilia K: What is the most recommended menu?

Madam Masako: We recommend the Shanti Set. This set is vegan, macrobiotic, and vegetarian so everyone can enjoy it.

Cecilia: What a wonderful name. It means “peace” - a very suitable name for a menu that everyone can enjoy.

Shanti Set

Soy Meat: Soy protein chunks cooked with spices. The roasted flavors and cashew deepens the taste

 

Shanti Salad: Healthy and energizing mung lentil, mushroom and fresh vegetables

 

Konsai Tofu (front left): Highly satisfying dish with rich flavors and uses Japanese vegetables and Tofu
Shanti Dal (front right): Indian lentils cooked with tender medicinal herbs and mild spices
Vegan Nan (back): Delicious Nan made with flour of Hokkaido and carefully leavened with natural yeast

 

Tapioca Kheer: Refreshing vegan tapioca dessert

<Interviewee’s Comments>

The gentle atmosphere and soft voice of Madam Masako left an impression. I could see that her gentleness derives from her daily meditation and her idea of valuing both mentality and food. Organic agriculture is now a global trend. In the near future, high- grade organic food will become widely spread in Japan, and traditional organic ingredients will start filling the market. What really makes a healthy mind and body is organic agriculture and we are getting closer to the phase where we start taking those products into our lifestyle. I imagined a future in which this lifestyle becomes fixed and the world finds its true state of health. 

I feel genuine and humane hospitality from NATARAJ staff. Their attentive service is highly satisfying to guests.

My first encounter with India dates back to my childhood when I read the Mahabharata. As a student studying Indian philosophy, I visited India and made a speech at JETRO’s business show on “global environment and human body”, wisdom of India. I had an opportunity to teach art and Indian philosophy to children and school teachers. I was also able to lecture on food at a school in Bangalore and organized an international art exhibition with the support of the Indian Embassy. As I turned my thoughts to my deep connections with India, I am full of respect and gratitude as I realized all the benefits I have received throughout my life and from the experience at NATARAJ.