Rasa, the organic restaurant on CMH road in Bangalore believes that all food should be organic and a shared meal is a deeply elevating and spiritual experience.

Twenty years after running a successful chain of restaurants in London, the head chef Das has come back home to realise his childhood dream - starting a school for the underprivilaged and to help them find a true purpose in life, while being close to nature.

The world's best known teacher.

Rasa Gurukul

Das Sreedharan grew up in a small village near Cochin, Kerala, on the spice-rich and palm-fringed south west tip of India. As a boy he spent much of his free time helping his mother in their vegetable garden and then in the kitchen, turning the plants they'd grow into delicious meals and enjoying the ultimate busy, happy childhood.

Das moved from Kerala to London to study accountancy as a young man. Food, however, was always his destiny. After managing a vegetarian restaurant for a while, he opened the first Rasa in 1994 in Stoke Newington.

It won many awards,and twice clinched the title of Time Out Best Vegetarian Restaurant. Seven more Rasa restaurants have been added to the chain, each specializing in authentic South Indian vegetarian, meat and seafood cooking.

Das has all the time remained deeply committed to keeping the authentic culinary traditions of Kerala alive, and created a School of Cooking and Hospitality here in India to preserve practices that are slowly dying out. As one of his greatest influences, his mother plays a key role here, as do many people of older generations whose contribution

Das values highly. Rasa Gurukul is surrounded by a beautiful organic farm, the only one of its kind in the region.

Over the years, Das has sent his UK-based Rasa chefs here to learn, not just about cooking good food, but about loving and understanding the whole process of food right from the seed to the plate.

The centre is also open to people from around the world, anyone who wants to expand their understanding of food or to use the school as a busy, and yet through its daily programme of activities, incredibly peaceful retreat.

Das has published three of his own cookery books, and contributed a whole section to the newly-released book Curry, written by top chefs from around the world.

Pursuing his interest in education, he has also set up projects working with children at less privileged schools in the North East of England, with a focus on introducing children and their parents to the wonders of good, healthy eating, and exciting their imaginations through food.

School of Cooking and Hospitality in Kerala

Rasa Gurukul is a stunningly beautiful riverside retreat in Kerala. Through its programme of activities, the institute teaches traditional methods of cooking, farming and gardening in an environment which allows students and visitors to rediscover the elements of a more traditional lifestyle, and through it, the trick of happiness in day-to-day living.

We deeply believe that food brings together the essential positive energies that create harmony in our world. Responsible food production links us more closely to nature and provides for sustainabilit.y, health, and a positive outlook on life. Cooking good food brings enormous fulfilment and allows us to demonstrate our love for those important to us.

These are lessons our parents and grandparents knew well, but which have been lost to many in today's rushed times. At Rasa Gurukul, we believe that the older generations are the custodians of these traditional ways, and we look to them as our teachers in a world in which their value is all too often shut out.

Rasa Gurukul is a spiritual place in which students and visitors can gain a better understanding of life through actively participating in all areas of food cultivation and cookery, rather than learning academically.

Sadly, you can no longer find the kind of food

That said, it is very much more than a training academy for professional chefs.

We like to think of Rasa GurukuI as a school of happiness. By busily engaging in its daily programme of activities, attitudes shift. Life's priorities are clearer, more obvious. The things that make us feel good are more apparent.

It is not a place of religion, but through its food-based activities and purpose, of profound spirituality.

we cook at Rasa in restaurants in Kerala. Only in people's homes is this still possible. Rasa Gurukul preserves the centuries-old knowledge that makes our cuisine so unique and so delicious.

Rasa Gurukui works around three key elements:

Nature

Rasa is an expanding restaurant chain in England which specialises in traditional South Indian cuisine, and which has endeavoured to bring in chefs from our home state of Kerala. What we found over the years, however, was a lack of passion for cooking and no system to train young chefs in traditional cooking methods.

We therefore sought to set up our own institute in Kerala which would preserve these invaluable skills.

Traditional, home cooking is more than simply putting together good food each day. It is about being involved with the actual ingredients from their very beginning. In the recent past, a mother would grow her own plants, spices and vegetables or carefully select them from neighbours and local farmers. This was why her food was always special. Love, the divine connection, flowed through those ingredients with the subtle role of fingers and transformed them into energy as food.

Students at Rasa Gurukul engage in the same tradition, taking part in daily agricultural activities to understand the birth, growth and harvest of their ingredients in order to develop absolute devotion to the art of cooking.

Food

The world has changed dramatically over the past decade with traditions loosening their grip over a modern, globalizd society. Life-styles are fast paced, dominated by routines that fight against time and provide short-term gains. People find it harder to smile at life. Stress and panic are no longer a rare happening.

Fast food and ready-made meals have invaded our lives and increasingly, ill health and unhappiness embrace a desperate world. There are many causes, but food and its profound relationship with our exploitative treatment of nature and the way we look after ourselves and each other, is a crucial factor.

Society is slowly beginning to understand the invisible power hidden in age-old cooking practices. Most people vastly prefer good, home-cooking to fast food, and it is this that we endeavour to replicate in our restaurants, by training our chefs in these practices at Rasa Gurukul in Kerala.

In Kerala, traditional simplicity and the subtle use of spices have a tremendous influence on the quality of taste.

Following a home-cooking route is to concentrate on the layering of spices and evenness of ingredients, and to have an imaginative connectivity with the many components of a dish.

Students at Rasa Gurukul embark on a relaxed exploration of tastes and flavours under the guidance of veteran cooks who will introduce them to traditional methods of preparing, roasting and grinding seasonal ingredients and fresh spices.

People

The majority of the teaching staff at our Gurukul belongs to older generations, people who have grown up with and spent their lives dedicated to traditional methods of producing and cooking food, and who are best placed to pass those arts on.

One of the unhappiest elements of today's world is the way people are doomed to become abandoned and isolated once they pass retirement age. But theirs was not a useless past; in many ways, they knew afar greater contentment than many experience today. This is something which we should value as we can learn from these generations.

Until quite recently, older people were respected and served an important role at the centre of the community. Now, in Britain and increasingly in India and all around the world, their wealth of knowledge is being wasted and they are fated to live out a useless, lonely old age.

Our institute has benefited greatly from their contribution over the years. Indeed, their input has been completely invaluable.

In return, we hope to help initiate a change in attitude, so that people can live out their final decades feeling valued and respected. Older people are just as capable of enjoying life, and just as entitled to do so. They are vulnerable to being shut off from society, but have so much to offer. It is also true that younger generations can only feel content and see a purpose in life if we feel confident that old age will embrace us with equal warmth.

The Institute — Activities Location

The institute of Rasa Gurukul is situated on the beautiful riverside of Chalakudy River, which is a 45-minutes drive from Cochi International Airport in Kerala in the southern tip of India. The 25-acre complex includes an organic farm area.

Course Duration

Three different course programmers are charted academically:

Two-week short term course

A wonderfully relaxing learning experience in which visitors can take part in the full range of activities of our Gurukul. These include traditional south Indian cooking, farming practices, yoga, meditation and other traditional learning activities.

Six-month certificate course

An opportunity to profoundly explore the ways of sustaining a culture via traditional actions and work, in an attempt to have a better future. By the end of this course, students will be equipped with a much deeper understanding of authentic cooking and farming practices, and a greater capacity to enjoy life in its fuller sense.

The one-year Rasa Gurukul course

A unique one-year learning process in which students are able to acquire a complete understanding of farm cultivation, cookery and other basic characteristics of traditional Keralan life.

A transforming experience in which students acquire new energy to see life in its true perspective, enabling them to identify opportunities everywhere and inhale happiness in fullness at all times.

Our Students

Students at Rasa Gurukul come from all backgrounds and age groups, and from all over the world. They range from mature students with a special interest in traditional cookery and vegetable gardening, or local Keralan and international chefs with a passion for understanding the spiritual philosophy of food and life.

Our Teachers

It is our view is that the older generations are the best equipped to pass on traditional knowledge that have been learnt over decades of practice, and it is they who form the teaching faculty at Rasa Gurukul.

Our staff lend the institute a homely atmosphere which engenders a feeling of all-round respect and affection. Their role is not only to impart their knowledge of a particular skill, but to share with younger people an invaluable all-round life experience which will remain with them forever.

Core Learning: Food and Cooking

The core programmed of all the institute's courses revolves around mastering a greater understanding of fresh ingredients, how they are grown and cultivated, and how to maximize on their qualities to prepare a balanced, harmonious meal. Our staff have a great mastery of the wide range of traditions that make up authentic south Indian food, and are passionate about instilling an instinct in students for how to subtly marry tastes and ingredients.

Related culinary and spiritual activities

The learning modules are put together in a way that helps train students to practice a self-disciplined approach to work without becoming stressed. In a sense, the modules exploit the "no time" concept of busy, present-day life by finding time to cool down. The modules are set in a way that links all the related activities of cooking and farming.

Yoga and Meditation

The Rasa Gurukul day begins with yoga and meditation to encourage positive vigour and an enthusiastic drive for life all at all times.

Learning to make culinary weapons traditionally from a senior blacksmith

Understanding why certain knives and cutting utensils are necessary for particular purposes focuses the mind very precisely on good food preparation. We believe students gain a much deeper understanding and passion for cooking when equipped with a knowledge of traditional culinary equipment techniques.

Learning to make the traditional utensils

Cooking utensils assume the next area of significance. The material content of the vessels we use to cook with and the dedication put in by the person who makes them contribute a significant part in enriching the taste and flavour of food. Again, we believe this traditional knowledge forms an essential part of becoming a skilled cook.

Oil Making

After harvesting, it is important to process and preserve the yields. As vegetables are taken to kitchen, as spices are dried and pounded, coconut is dried out to make oil. The traditional way of processing oil from coconuts involved the use of "chakku", a traditional oil plant. Traditionally-made oils add significantly more fragrance and taste.

Jaggery making

Jaggery is an essential sweetening component of authentic cooking in the region. Traditionally-made jaggery, made from raw sugarcane, stirs in a wonderful tang of sweetness, the mastery of which is a great aid to the general cooking process.

Teashop session

In traditional Indian villages, teashops played a vital role in the social connection of the community. The teashops were the meeting place for villagers, and a place to share all their emotions, happiness, and problems. Understanding their role is an important part of learning the ways of natural social unity..

Weekend Farm Market

A visit to a farmers market to enjoy the fresh produce of vegetables, seasonal spices and crops from the farmers directly. The association helps underpin an awareness of fresh ingredients and healthy eating, and serves also to motivate farmers to contribute of their best.

Ayurveda Session

Ayurveda, the ancient medicinal system of India, is based on the concept of good diet and self-discipline for sound mental and physical health, and helps us understand the relationship between food and wellbeing.

Cultural Activities

Every evening, the Institute plays host to a cultural entertainment event, and invites both visiting artists and students of the Gurukul to take part.

Library Hour

The library hour gives students the opportunity to assimilate what they have learnt with bona fide references.

The Lecture Session

Lectures related to all Rasa Gurukul teachings are given by faculty members or expert guest speakers from a variety of different walks of life.

Assessment Panel

Our approach is designed to assist teachers of the various disciplines in sharing the spiritual philosophy behind the ancient ritual art of homely cooking, and the way to practice a simple, traditional lifestyle. At the same time, they will monitor students' performance and assess them in terms of the overall knowledge they gain.

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