Remembering Ramanand Bhatt, the Visionary Chef Behind Dishes of India

Chef Ramanand Bhatt, the chef and restaurateur who introduced Alexandria to the delicious range of authentic Indian cuisine, has passed away at 84.

Chef Ramanand Bhatt at the table in his restaurant with its signature pink tablecloth. (All photos: the Bhatt family)

Alexandria, VA – Chef Ramanand Bhatt, the chef and restaurateur who introduced Alexandria to the delicious range of authentic Indian cuisine, has passed away at 84.

Chef Bhatt’s culinary inspiration came from his mother. Cooking for a large family with very little money, she created delicious, memorable meals that fostered his love for his native cuisine. More than the food, it was the “magic” she infused in all her dishes that Ramanand sought to re-create throughout his career.

Chef Bhatt began cooking professionally at a roadside café in New Delhi, India, at age 16. From the start, he desired to open a restaurant of his own. At age 25, he traveled to Spain to work in a prestigious Indian restaurant for five years. He then returned to India to work in the Air India flight kitchens for 15 years as an assistant chef.

Chef Ramanand Bhatt, at home in his restaurant kitchen.

In 1981, Bhatt came to the United States and continued honing his skills. He realized his dream at last when he opened Dishes of India in the Belle View Shopping Center on June 17, 1997. The restaurant was an immediate success and has continued ever since, even surviving hurricanes, floods, a devastating fire, and now the pandemic.

Chef Bhatt dedicated his work to traditional, authentic Indian cuisine. He cooked from the heart and took pleasure in seeing his patrons enjoying their meals. His family says that his secret may have been an “extraordinary gift of happiness from God, which he transferred to his cooking.” His guests knew him as a master magician for his creations in the kitchen, a talent he inherited from his beloved mother.

Chef Ramanand Bhatt accepting an award with his sons Naresh, left, and Gopal.

The secret to Bhatt’s success can be found in the mantras that he preached: Patience is a virtue, never take the shortcut route, always work hard, and pay attention to detail. His strong work ethic helped him become that “magician in the kitchen.” The entire Dishes of India team admired Chef Bhatt’s charisma and positive attitude, and he was dearly respected and loved.

The Bhatt family will always be grateful for their father’s legacy, and they will ensure his passion lives on forever. May he rest in peace.

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