The January meeting of the Food & Consumer Science Professionals was held at the Gandhi Mahal restaurant on East Lake Street in Minneapolis. Gandhi Mahal (opened in 2008) is a full spice Bangladesh-Indian restaurant that grows many of its own ingredients in either the restaurant, the basement, on the rooftop or in the gardens of community homes. Their mission is to provide fresh high, quality food while doing their part to keep the environment free of stress. The basement aquaponics garden was started in 2011 – here they grow tilapia in a pool that also feeds water to the garden beds. The garden beds grow many kinds of vegetable greens and herbs as well as some vegetables that do well in the grow-light environment. In one month the gardens will produce 50 pounds of a type of vine leaf spinach that is used in many of the dishes on the menu. Honey is sourced from three bee hives that are on the roof. Future plans include expanding gardens to the roof top also. Over a dozen neighborhood gardens (all cared for by the home owners or volunteers for a share of the crop) grow other produce for the menu. The owners are hoping to start a chicken farm in the future as that is one of the meat staples on the menu besides fish and lamb.
The Gandhi Mahal also treats waste with concern. One big focus is on reducing traditional garbage. To date they have successfully trimmed their trash bill from $1,200 to just over $400 per month by simply caring about how they dispose of trash. Although not often used, any disposable dishes (i.e. for catering) are recyclable and all food waste is composted (if they cannot convince guests to take a “doggie bag” home). It is not unusual for their catering team to monitor trash at catered events for proper sorting and then actually bring the trash back to the restaurant to be disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way possible!
Beyond how they do it all the important thing is that the food is positively delicious! Their cooks are native to the cuisine and it shows in the wonderful flavors of each dish. The restaurant was recently filmed for an upcoming segment on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives program on the Food Network. The Gandhi Mahal is worth a visit!! Not only is the food wholesome but one might describe the business as wholesome too!!
Thank you Debra Zwiefelhofer for providing the meeting recap!