February 01, 2023
February 2023: Trader of the Month - Raastawala
Tell us about you business; how did Raastawala begin?
Raastawala started 9 years ago in a small church hall in Whitstable in Kent, selling Kolkata street food. We started the business with my Dad, Ron; husband, Neelan; and myself. We wanted to give people a taste of cuisine that wasn't readily available in restaurants so, with a small vision in mind, we go started.
We spent time together prepping the food and enjoying each other's company while doing it. We started off once a month, with the veg trader being our most regular loyal customer every month! As word spread and the more people tried our food, the busier we got, selling out most Saturdays that we traded.
We then started doing festivals and supperclubs and it was in 2017 when we moved to London that I started the business on a more regular basis and opened our units at various different sites.
Why do you trade at Catford Food Market? Why did we appeal to you and your business?
Catford Food Market is our most local market to where we live. We started trading here on the very first day the market began and we have regular customers that still come today to get their fix of kati rolls. The market appeal to us because there's a great variety of traders, the team are really fantastic to work with and most importantly, we believe in Catford and want to offer something back to our local community.
In your mind, does it take to be a successful trader?
Someone with a WOW factor!! I hope I have that too - ha ha !
How important is customer service to you and your business?
Very important! Customers are the reason we are here - so we have to give it our all to each and every customer so that feel they want to come back next time.
How important is branding?
I feel its very important, branding makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd!
How eco-friendly are you?
We are approximately 95% plastic free (the last 5% we are working on with our suppliers). We only use wooden and eco friendly cutlery. Its an important topic for us and our business as its the future that we have to think about.
Tell us about your dishes. What makes your food unique?
We specialise in north east Indian street food, and we make everything fresh. I think that speaks a thousand words in itself. Im hoping you can come and try the food and tell me why you feel it's unique!
You’ve recently launched a cookbook, we’d love to know more!
Yes, it's my debut cookbook and is packed with 70 delicious recipes from the heart of Bengal - Kolkata. The book has been been proclaimed 'Best culinary escape book for Indian food lovers" by The Independent (now the i Newspaper). The recipes are simple, easy to follow and allow people to make this wonderful cuisine in their own kitchens.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any exciting business updates to share?
Plans for the future keep changing as everything is just so volatile at the moment. We have some exciting things that I plan to share once it's all been set in stone, but in the meantime I hope to work with Catford Food Market to be able to offer my food to more people in Catford.