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Circle of Chai

An Ayurvedic restaurant is born again in Santa Fe.

February 1, 2011, 10:00 am
By Bryon Adams Harford

In the wake of a kitchen fire that forced the original restaurant to close, Annapurna World Vegetarian Café prepares to open a new Santa Fe location later this month.

Located in the St. Michael's Village West Shopping Center, the new Annapurna will be identical to the old restaurant in terms of the menu, the general aesthetic and the quality of ingredients.

Those familiar with the original Santa Fe Annapurna, or one of its two sister locations in Albuquerque, can look forward to the same seasonally influenced vegetarian dishes and the same holistic approach to a healing diet.

According to Annapurna owner Yashoda Naidoo, not much has changed, aside from the address.

"As a business, we’re becoming a mini-brand. It's important for us to keep the stores the same," Naidoo tells SFR.

Those diet-conscious individuals who haven't eaten at one of Naidoo's restaurants should be prepared for something beyond the basic concept of eating healthy.

The owner of Annapurna faithfully subscribes to an Ayurvedic world view, and she infuses this perspective into her business. When it comes to food, this means taking into account a complex set of physiological and spiritual factors related to our bodies and our environment.

"Ayurveda prescribes your main meal be eaten between 10 am and 2 pm," Naidoo says. "Say at one o’clock you have the sun at it’s strongest. It’s the same thing that  going on in your stomach. Your stomach is at its strongest point as well."

An Ayurvedic diet takes into account the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether. It also incorporates the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.

This might sound like a lot to think about when choosing where to go for lunch, but rest assured Naidoo and her executive chef Jennifer Nelson make things easy. In fact, the concept behind Annapurna was born out of Naidoo's desire to make an Ayurvedic diet more approachable for everyone.

While working as a CPA, Naidoo found herself increasingly frustrated by the lack of healthy dining options available.

"When I came to New Mexico, I didn’t have a place to go for what I call clean food. So I decided that I wanted to bring that to the community," Naidoo says.

She originally brought clean food to New Mexico in the form of a catering service that served mostly yoga studios in and around Albuquerque. In 2002, Naidoo expanded her vision to include a full service restaurant located near the University of New Mexico campus.

Based on the success of that restaurant, she was eventually able to open a second location in Albuquerque as well as the ill-fated original location in Santa Fe. Today, Naidoo prefers to think about the opportunities of the future rather than harping on the mistakes of the past.

"The fire has given us a chance to go to a better part of town and find a better space for the restaurant. It has given us a chance to really focus on continuing to excel in our product without worrying about some of the challenges of the old space," Naidoo says.

Naidoo is most excited about the new restaurant's outdoor patio, and who can blame her? Come summertime, when everyone's fire energy is raging out of control, lounging in the sun with a tall glass of made-from-scratch chai sounds like the perfect thing to cool things down.

In the grand scheme of things, Naidoo may come to see that kitchen fire as a blessing in disguise.

Naidoo plans to have the restaurant opened by the end of February.


Annapurna World Vegetarian Café
1620 St. Michael's Drive
988-9688



 

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