Come the new year, Adelaide welcomes fresh, new Indian flavours with The Logical Indian, a brand new fast food outlet with a charity focus located in the Adelaide Central Plaza food court.
Around two months ago, professional chef and owner Mervin Joshua launched The Logical Indian with a passion for food and cooking, but also with the intent of giving something back to those less fortunate. Being a man of many travels, Mervin has seen each end of the extreme in the food industry. From dealing with mass food wastage working in restaurant and hotel management, to witnessing starving families on his missionaries to the poorest of remote communities, Mervin felt a wave of passion to help those who could not even begin to imagine the wasting even just a crumb.
But he did not just want to invest his money into any charity. “I am very particular about what charity I choose,” Mervin explains, “I don’t want to give money to just any charity and not know what my money will be going towards.” Keeping this in mind, Mervin decided he would make donations as a need arose specifically in the food industry. As both his passion and business are food-related, the focus seemed fitting. Whether he’d be flicking through newspapers and magazines or watching the television, Mervin chooses his charity from his surroundings with a significant amount of research before donating.
On each sale The Logical Indian makes, five percent of that sale is given to charity.”Every time we see a need that focuses on food, we give a portion of our sales directly to the charity,” says Mervin, “It can be anything from a church or an NGO, to a natural disaster charity, whatever need comes my way. But the primary focus must be food-related.”
Having started cooking from a young age, and owning restaurants in both Singapore and Malaysia, the love of food and flavour has always been prevalent. Mervin learnt to cook Indian cuisine in all sorts of unique ways growing up with his family in India, always striving to experiment and create. Upon moving to Adelaide, however, he found that a lot of people were not educated on Indian food and there were not many places that offered an authentic Indian experience. “A lot of people here believe that Indian food is just curry,” Mervin says.
I don’t want to give money to just any charity and not know what my money will be going towards.
“In other cultures, there are specific dishes made in specific ways, but in India, there are all sorts of ways to make just one dish,” he continues. “For example, butter chicken is made completely different in the North of India compared to the South; the dish is influenced by region as well as culture, and both methods of making butter chicken are correct as there is not just one set way.” With The Logical Indian, Mervin hopes to show Adelaide that Indian food is not just one thing, but many.
The menu accurately reflects this concept and operates vastly different to regular food court outlets by changing on a regular, rotational basis. While butter chicken and other signature dishes go out daily, the rest of the menu remains non-fixed and up to Mervin’s discretion. “In order to decide the dishes, I take the produce that is in season at the markets and I try to incorporate all of those things into my cooking,” he explains, “Right now it’s summer and there’s lots of eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower and so on. I use these as my main vegetables for the current dishes.” Mervin also aims to source solely local produce including various vegetables and meats beef, lamb and chicken.
We also hear The Logical Indian serves Dosa, a rather famous fermented rice crepe dish originating from a very unique region in India that is not commonly made. Only certain restaurants here in Adelaide serve Dosa, so The Logical Indian is the first of its kind being a fast food outlet serving this particular dish! Getting a sneaky taste of The Logical Indian’s Dosa ourselves, we can certainly say it’s worth every cent, being cooked with the perfect crunch and served with just the right amount of spice.
As for the future of The Logical Indian, we may see it’s expansion into other areas both locally and nationally, bringing forward the real taste of Indian to Australia. Mervin even speaks of expanding into a restaurant, but that idea remains a far future goal. For the moment, The Logical Indian is what Mervin likes to call “fast fine food”, that is; food which is restaurant quality but reaching people at a food court level. “While not everyone can go to a restaurant every day,” Mervin tells us, “a food court is affordable to many, so I wish to strive for high quality that is accessible to the majority.”
And what is Mervin’s favourite Indian dish, you may ask? It’s very simple, a dish of rice, dahl and yoghurt is all that is needed to please The Logical Indian’s owner. When we asked Mervin why he would choose something so simple over all of the extravagant, intricate dishes on his menu, he explained, “I’ve worked in the food industry for a long time and have tried many different combinations. Sometimes you get sick of food and just want something simple.” Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to us!