Ritu Vasudev cooks homemade Indian food for take-out – The Scarlet and Black

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By Mira Diamond-Berman
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Ritu Vasudev moved to Grinnell around four years ago to work at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Highway 146, in which she owns partial shares, and now, as of just a couple of weeks ago, she’s started a small business selling Indian take-out food. 

Vasudev prepares the food at her home in Grinnell, and the menu is vegetarian, since she has been vegetarian her entire life, she said. She loves to cook, she added, and she wants to cook for others who share her love for Indian food.

“Cooking is my passion,” said Vasudeva. “I’m not doing it at a big scale. It’s for the kids, you know, because they are here and they probably miss their home.”

There is limited access to traditional Indian spices and ingredients in Grinnell, so Vasudeva travels to Des Moines or Cedar Rapids to buy the ingredients. 

Although Vasudeva has yet to have any Indian customers, she believes that the news of her takeout food was spread by the word of an Indian Grinnell student whom she met with. She has not publicized her menu, rather it has spread by word of mouth.

“I didn’t advertise… There is one girl, [an] Indian girl. I met her. She said yeah, she would love to try and probably she told a couple of our friends,” said Vasudeva.

Emmy Potter ‘22 said she found out about Vasudeva’s Indian take out from a group chat. She loves Indian food and she ordered from Vasudeva the week before spring break. 

Since Vasudeva is selling at a very small scale, customers need to call in advance, typically a day or two ahead. Potter was able to able to get the food the day she ordered.

“I called like a couple of hours in advance. I think I called at like 3 p.m.,” said Potter.

The menu was limited at the time, so Potter ordered Chana Masala, which she found to be restaurant quality. 

“It was so good because it was very home cooked. The spices were amazing,” she said. “Definitely similar to some of my favorite restaurants. Better than some of them, like the not-authentic Indian restaurants that I’ve been to.”

When she first drove up to Vasudeva’s house to pick up the food, she was confused about whether to go in, but Vasudeva welcomed her inside and even gave her samples of the dishes.

It was so good because it was very home cooked. The spices were amazing. – Emmy Potter `24

“They were really sweet. They invited me in… They’re like. try this. Try this, have more food, let me feed you,” said Potter. “It felt like I was being nurtured.”

So far most of Vasudeva’s customers have been students, and since many of them don’t have a car, Vasudeva also offers to drop off the food.

Vasudeva’s Indian take out is open all days of the week, but she still has little business. “I hardly sell… nobody’s ordering [from] me. Maybe some last two weeks nobody [has] ordered.” she said.

Customers can call or text Vasudeva at 641-481-5770 to see the full menu. She is currently only taking cash.

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