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MokSHA: Hearty, Flavorful Food for Your Whole Self

February 12, 2021 - by Brooke Wilson

MokSHA: Hearty, Flavorful Food for Your Whole Self

As a newly-minted Microsoft employee and recent U.S. immigrant in the 90s, Tom Thanu found few Indian eateries in the area that offered an authentic, familiar taste harkening back to home. The type of preparation and flavor profiles were part of his discouragement, yet his qualms were largely with the culture and philosophy behind how many Americans engage with food and its consumption.

His native stomping grounds in southern India and his family’s upbringing’ gave him an ethos to treat food as medicine - not to solely fuel your stomach but to restore your body holistically. Grown naturally, with no artificial additives, preservatives or other chemicals, the food that surrounded Tom during his formative years fortified his body, nourished his soul and ultimately inspired the conception of MokSHA restaurant.

“Spices like fresh ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric powder all have curative properties,” Tom explained.

He opened MokSHA to spread a reimagined vision of a traditional dining experience, guided by his personal knowledge of the broad benefits food has to offer. He also used distinctive interior design choices and tasteful décor to outfit the restaurant with gossamer curtains and ornate statues to create an atmosphere reminiscent of original Indian dining establishments.

On his mission to champion healthy and tasty choices, he also tries to dispel misconceptions about Indian cuisine, like distinguishing that not all dishes are notoriously spicy, while some ingredients pack a little more heat than others. He’s also curated an inclusive menu that caters to a wide array of dietary restrictions and palettes.

His recommendations are varied, based on factors like meat preference, heat tolerance and personal taste. No matter your prerogative, his kitchen staff isn’t one to skimp on the details.

“We serve over seven different varieties of sauces and curry,” Tom said, noting that other Indian eateries often whip up one standard concoction for all its dishes. “We invest our maximum effort in every bite. We prepare our sauces from scratch, without milk, butter or cream.”

Tom has also been committed to serving charities and nonprofit programs, including Doctors Without Borders, ASHA for Education, the MS Foundation, Shankara Eye Foundation and others. MokSHA has donated sustainable meals to healthcare workers, women’s shelters and Tom has personally pledged money to hospitals and underprivileged families in India with an aim to supply resources like books, toiletries and, of course, quality food. His restaurant also participates in an international network of kitchens that prepare, preserve and freeze dishes to ship around the world.

Several customers have forwarded messages of gratitude and photos of kids chowing down on the packaged meals, which Tom said has been no small victory amid our humanitarian crisis. These signs of encouragement are what inspires him to continue to reach out and expand his efforts.

As Tom sizes up the year ahead, his main priorities are to increase access to healthier grub while maintaining an affordable price and encouraging folks to eat intentionally rather than opt for quick, cheap junk food.

“It’s an art form, it’s quite difficult to prepare, to figure out the right sequence of ingredients and how to draw out the flavor,” Tom said about cooking Indian cuisine.

However, he realizes people have more stress and responsibilities to juggle than ever before, and even the best weekly meal schedules can go awry. That’s why Tom is offering a deal: order take-out from MokSHA for 20% off. That’s a suggestion even the busiest of us can enjoy!

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.