Authentikka is an Indian restaurant and family business with two locations in the Sternschanze and Winterhude districts of Hamburg. Sonja Rana founded the Indian restaurant together with her husband Tarun in October 2019. In addition to managing the restaurant in Winterhude, she takes on many tasks, such as joint recipe development, back office tasks, employee consulting, accounting and marketing tasks. We spoke to her about the basic idea behind "Authentikka", what is particularly important to her and her team and why sustainability plays a major role in her restaurant.
Hello Sonja. How did you get started with your restaurant "Authentikka"?
My husband and I actually opened in October 2019, just before Corona. Tarun has a background in gastronomy and has also worked for 5-star hotels both in Germany and abroad. However, we then decided that we wanted to start our own business. We got the go-ahead for the location in Sternschanze at the beginning of summer 2019 and were then able to get started with the conversion.
We got a lot of attention relatively quickly because guests thought our idea was great and that got everything rolling.
What is the basic idea behind Authentikka?
With our restaurant, we are pursuing the idea of offering real authentic Indian food, just as we know it from home. We always cook fresh with the best ingredients and only offer our guests what we would eat ourselves, but also what our daughter would eat.
My husband came up with the name "Authentikka". It is made up of "Authen" for "authentic" and "Tikka", a very well-known Indian dish. The concept works and our guests often tell us that the name suits our authentic dishes.
It is clear from your website that sustainability is very important to you alongside authenticity. What exactly does your sustainable concept entail?
For me, the most important thing about sustainability is that every step counts. As an Indian restaurant, we can't say that we are completely sustainable because we rely on a lot of food that doesn't grow in Germany, for example. Even if we could adapt a few foods, we wouldn't be able to get hold of the spices, rice and a certain type of wholemeal flour. Our aim is therefore to do what we can to act sustainably.
For example, we work with many local partners. Our beer is from Hamburg (Ratsherrn), our cola and some soft drinks come from Fritz Kola. When it comes to water, we cooperate with Viva Con Agua, which supports charitable projects in India, which further connects our values. We also focus on seasonal vegetables and our meat is from species-appropriate husbandry and comes from northern Germany.
Another important aspect of Indian cuisine is that 80 percent of our dishes are vegetarian and almost 60 percent are vegan. Many dishes consist of lentils or chickpeas. However, we also offer vegan dishes that are not traditionally prepared vegan. Everyone knows "chicken tikka masala". We serve "Tofu Tikka Masala". Vegan and vegetarian cuisine is important for a sustainable future.
"Nobody is perfect - not even us" - On your website, you are very transparent about the fact that you cannot do without importing some spices and rice varieties from faraway countries such as India. To what extent is transparency important to you in front of your guests?
Our guests deserve the necessary transparency to know how we act sustainably and where we reach our limits. We can only source our spices from a wholesaler in India and we want to communicate this openly. As a growing company, we want to make people aware that every step counts and that smaller companies can also make a contribution. Of course, this also has an impact on our image. We pay a little more than usual for our sustainable concept and we want our guests to understand that.
Where does this sustainable thinking come from for you?
I grew up paying attention to sustainability. Now we have a child, which also plays a huge role for me, because I want to leave a good world for my daughter. I want to help make things more sustainable here in Hamburg, in Germany and around the world.
Why do you think it is important to invest in plastic-free alternatives and what are your reasons for using our straws?
Just because we're a smaller restaurant, we can't get out of it and say: the big companies or the government are already doing it. We are also growing and have a responsibility towards our guests and the environment. As I said, every step counts.
I've known Kevin from #IAMPLASTICFREE since I was a child. I knew that he founded the company with Daniel and since we needed straws anyway, we went straight in with #IAMPLASTICFREE, even before it was mandatory to offer plastic-free straws. If drinking straws, then sensible ones. They have to be practical and yet sustainable. We are prepared to spend a few cents more for that. The partnership was right from the start.
0,00€ Our free sample pack of drinking straws is the perfect choice to test our thoughtfully sustainable straws.
Our free sample pack of drinking straws is the perfect choice to test our thoughtfully sustainable straws.
You've already mentioned a few partners and sustainable concepts that you support alongside #IAMPLASTICFREE. Are there any other initiatives that you rely on?
We also work with Vytal, a company that offers reusable packaging. Since the Corona period, we have switched more and more to the delivery and collection of our food and we want to pursue a sustainable concept here too. As a company, this system is not cheaper for us, we pay per container. There is no extra charge for our guests. But we are also helping to reduce packaging waste. Our guests therefore have the choice between reusable packaging and packaging made from sugar cane, which is compostable. With disposable packaging, you have to weigh up whether to use aluminum or plastic or offer a sustainable alternative.
Do you have any tips and personal learnings about sustainability that you would like to pass on to other restaurateurs?
It's important for me to say that I can't tell anyone what to do and that everyone should act as they see fit. In our restaurant, we have been working with alternative and sustainable products and relying on local partners since the very beginning. My tip: Dare to invest a little more money and switch to environmentally friendly products. It will be worth it for the greater good - for future generations, for the environment and for the future.