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In January 2014, a very heartening thing had happened on the Nagpur food scene.
A man who had lived in London for a long time, whose family was all there in UK, had fallen in love with a girl from Nagpur while on a visit and stayed back here. Since he had been in the food business in London also, he had begun a small restaurant here. All this had happened at the beginning of the millennium.
But in 2014, he decided to take a plunge and opened a full fledged dhaba on a large piece of land – 4 acres – on Amraoti road. He called it simply – Rana Dhaba, on his family name.
There was something about the dhaba that instantly caught Nagpur foodies attention. It was a place unlike any other dhaba on other highways around the city. Generously spread out along the highway, no dark and dingy corners, well lit, open and clean. With plenty of parking space available right in front. And the tandoori chicken was just superb! Soon people were soon saying it was The Best tandoori chicken available in the city. Foodies who undertook the longish drive to reach there often found Rana himself in the kitchen, cooking. The place was packed, not just on weekends but other evenings too…
This ‘House Full’ scene went on for an year, till it took its tragic toll on the owner’s health. Restaurant industry is a stressful one; you have to keep pleasing customers each day, every hour. Something goes wrong at a single table, order is delayed, orders misplaced so wrong food served, taste not as per customer’s liking and word can immediately go round that ” Xyz— dhaba/ restaurant, is not the same anymore.” It is all about word of mouth, literally so!
One night, while catering to another ‘full house’ Rana collapsed in the kitchen. By the time his staff could take him to the nearest city hospital, he was no more. His wife and only son could not even see him or talk to him a last time… Their only consolation was, he died with his boots on, doing what he loved best, cooking!
This was 2014 December. It has taken some time for his then teenager son Aneish and wife Yogita to pick themselves up and go on. A close family friend, Bakshi, has helped a great deal. Even now the trio manage the place.
Rana dhaba is now back with a bang! In some respects even better than before. It has expanded its awning and number of tables; there is a play area created for kids, and soon proper ‘sports’ grounds are coming up around the actual restaurant area – Volley ball and badminton courts . To underline the fact that however busy you are there is always time to toss a ball? And that activity is as important as food!
What to say of the food itself?? The chicken kebabs are as juicy and spicy as ever… the fish fingers we had were crisp and delicious; hot and sour soup was just as it should be ( and drove away my sore throat and cold!) Mutton we did not try – but then you get that everywhere, Rana is a known Chicken place!!
Would you believe it that Yogita, who does all the raw material shopping everyday now, like chicken, fish, mutton etc. is a vegetarian? (Yes, Rana had fallen in love with a Gujarathi, pure vegetarian girl, Yogita Kothari!) Their only son, Aneish, has music as his first love but gave up his admission to A.R. Rehman Academy in Chennai after his father passed away suddenly.
“We do nothing! It is ‘Rana’ who still guides us and makes us do the right things. For us, this place is not just a ‘business place’ … it is a labour of love. We don’t have him with us physically, but his name will fly high!” Says Yogita.
Rana Dhaba’s address below for first timers
Near dhamna gaon, just before Fun and Food, Amravati Road, Nagpur – 440001
+(91)-8669556774 , +(91)-9823460090