Slurrp Exclusive- Shefali Shah On Her Idea of “Jalsa”
Image Credit: Shefali Shah at her Jalsa

Critically-acclaimed actress, Writer-Director, artist, self-confessed foodie and now the Chief Creative Force at Jalsa is Shefali Shah.  Jalsa is a labour of love for Shefali; with every element - from decor to cutlery, from recipe to presentation - personally supervised and often, personally executed! Shefali brings with her, her innate understanding of the dramatic, artful and heart-warming aspects of the human experience, to the world of dining and hospitality. As with most things Shefali has undertaken; Jalsa is only the beginning. 

Jalsa is a restaurant experience built around food and enjoying time with friends and family. A quintessentially-Indian celebration, reimagined with global design and food trends The good times never end in Jalsa, and nor does the food. Jalsa is a vegetarian buffet restaurant that serves up a limitless spread of Indian staples and international fun-dining highlights like Asian bowls, Mexican and Mediterranean street food, Japanese Teppanyaki and Continental favourites, all with a desi, folksy twist. 

Jalsa is the global Indian, coming home to an earthy desi carnival. Ferris wheels, astrologers, henna artists, funfair games, and of course, a spacious dance floor! Jalsa promises endless fun for every age group.

What did you have in mind when you were thinking to open Jalsa? How did Jalsa happen?

I am a complete foodie and I love eating I love cooking I love serving, I love hosting parties and my idea of a celebration is food, friends, dance, music and togetherness. It was during pandemic that we happen to realise that how unpredictable life is, so why not celebrate each moment. Also for a long time I've been wanting to get in the hospitality business. And so I joined hands with my business partner as she had been in the hospitality business for the longest time and it was best thing to join hands and come together. This place that we have created is all about celebration,  as Jalsa according to me a celebration of school of music of dance and most importantly togetherness with family and friends.

Since the place is about fun dining, apart from Jalsa which other place in the country fascinates you when you think of such an experience? 

One place I visited many many years ago and that has stayed in my mind forever is the Vishala in Ahmedabad, the most amazing place that I have been it. It’s almost like a small village put together and there are women who are housewife, homemakers, mothers who all come together to create their own pottery, they have their own cowshed, they churn out their own ghee, makkhan and all. They all get together and cook and the food is served in a beautiful setting under the stars and you have to sit on the ground and is just amazing food. More than that it's just that entire experience it's like a beautiful happy place which also sees special traditional dances music playing it's just amazing. This place is a celebration and experience in itself. 

What was the idea behind when you were designing the menu?

Designing the menu is a collaborative process of my partner and me, they being more instrumental in it as they are from the industry. It was always like that that whenever I have a party at home no matter what, I always had them to do the catering. Even at Jalsa we made sure that we serve all kinds of cuisine. You have to go get a coupon and then enjoy everything on the menu starting from Candy floss to Kacchi keri which you can which we use to get outside school. The Indian food that is served here is not the restaurant kind of but is more traditional Indian like that Amritsari Chole is the one you would get at home, there are some Maharashtrian dishes which are very very traditional which I have learnt from my grand mom, some Gujarati dishes, some International Cuisine, then there’s Continental. There is something for everyone in them menu. It’s a fun menu.  You can go and eat exactly what you want. You also get some time to get some tattoo or mehndi or even enjoy traditional dances or even puppet show. The best part being mostly everyone ends up landing on the dance floor and is letting the head down and enjoying the entire experience.

Does Both Ahmedabad and Bangalore see the same menu?

Bangalore and Ahmedabad Jalsa the food menu is on the same lines, but yes we have still reinvented the menu too. If you are having a having Dhokla in Ahmedabad then in Bangalore dhokla is reinvented as dhokla burger or there’s a cold baingan ka bharta a traditional Gujrati delicacy but served with khakra lavash . And the menu keeps changing at intervals giving a scope for combination of variety, flavours and textures.  

Do we see any Shefali Shah signatures on the menu?

Nani wali daal; this one is special as it has a lot to do with my childhood special memories  as this is the dal that my mom makes and we used to have with rice, ghee and fried fish. And Jalsa is vegetarian, yes, this daal is named by my kids. We also have few Maharashtrian specials. More so every week or on regular intervals the menu keeps changing, and you will not see a repeat. 

When do Delhi people get a taste of your Jalsa?

We are hoping not just Delhi, but branch out in several cities. Our country is so rich in flavours why not explore it. But currently wanna focus on these two outlets and make them rock solid. So whoever comes not only cherishes this experience for a long time but wants to come back here repeatedly.

What has ben you biggest Pandemic learning?

Life is extremely unpredictable and make the most of it. What matters most is your family and your loved ones and probably we had taken that for granted. During the pandemic it was the longest that we couldn't see people we love.

We build Jalsa exactly the same thought behind it where you come with your friends, your family and it’s not a place where you have to rush go to your meal and run away. It’s a place where we will have fun and there is something or the other that excite an interest people from all age group. It’s basically all about having a good time and celebrating life. Jalsa is a place that truly depicts all of these thoughts put together and it's not just about celebrating a special moment, because if you wait for the special moment then you might lose out on other moments around you that come our way. Make every day celebration and that’s exactly what Jalsa is about.