Smita Kanwar –
Sangeet Indian Cuisine (located at 736 Great South Road, Manukau) is an institution in South Auckland. Not only are the Prime Minister and Black Caps regular patrons, but owner Davinder Rahal is also a local celebrity thanks to his continuous involvement in the community, including being awarded a Queen’s Service Medal.
Mr Rahal, who migrated to New Zealand in 1988 with his wife Jyoti, opened the first Sangeet restaurant in the Manukau Mall in 1993. Unlike today’s contemporary, multi-purpose venue, it was a modest 48-seat facility.
More than curry
“Back then it was tough – not a lot of people in South Auckland were huge fans of Indian cuisine like Butter Chicken, Chicken Korma and Lamb Khara Masala,” he said.
“We had to gently explain to the local community, through local newspapers, that Indian food is not just hot curries, it was about enjoying the multitude of spices and exotic flavours. Gradually we built up a loyal customer base,” he said.
Sangeet moved to 710 Great South Road in 1997, seating 80-people, before relocating for the third time to its current premises in 2012.
“We can comfortably fit 166 people here, not including the new function venue which will be opening soon,” Mr Rahal said.
A unique feature of Sangeet is that half the restaurant is a la carte, while the other half (called, ‘Gokul’) is dedicated to purely vegetarian meals, complete with a separate vegetarian kitchen. The casual self-service style café has meals from $3.90 for a mini-meal through to a large plate for $9.90.
From A to Z
ANZ Bank has been with the Rahals the whole way, helping to grow the business into what it is today.
“When times were tough ANZ stayed with us and now that times are good we are remaining loyal to the Bank. ANZ Commercial Relationship Manager Ramesh Kumar knows us beyond just our business, while others only judge us on just the restaurant. We are confident that we are in the right place. We often consult with Ramesh about particular expansion plans we have in mind. He has been great in advising us what activities we should undertake or which ones not to pursue,” Mr Rahal said.
Smita Kanwar is Channel & Business Development Manager at ANZ Bank based in Auckland City
Davinder and Jyoti Rahal with ANZ officials (from left) Harsh Ram, Ramesh Kumar and Smita Kanwar at Sangeet Restaurant