It comes naturally for the Akuthota family to offer free meals on Christmas Day at three of the five branches of their Satya Indian restaurants in Auckland.

Now in its ninth year, Satya restaurants will be offering free meals to families who have had a rough year, stranded tourists, homeless people and regular customers who make donations.

"There are no strings attached. We don't charge anything," says Samrudh Akuthota, whose parents opened their first Satya restaurant in Hobson St next door to the City Mission where they sometimes set up makeshift stands to cook for the poor.

Satya Chai Lounge, Karangahape Rd. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, NZME
Satya Chai Lounge, Karangahape Rd. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, NZME

Looking after your community and people around you is a philosophy passed down through the generations of the Akuthota family, who moved to New Zealand in 1996.


In an act of goodwill during the 2011 recession, Swamy Akuthota and his wife Padmaja offered free meals on Christmas Day, which has become an annual event for up to 1800 people.

Samrudh said the atmosphere in the restaurants is different on Christmas Day and people love it. Homeless people are "insanely gracious".

"People who have a tough year and feel shy, we would love to have them along." he said.

Samrudh Akuthota. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, NZME
Samrudh Akuthota. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas, NZME

Three Satya restaurants located at 17 Great North Rd in Ponsonby, 57 Mt Eden Rd and 515 Sandringham Rd will be open for lunch between noon and 2pm, and for dinner between 6pm and 9pm on Christmas day.

The food on offer includes Butter chicken, Lamb Rogan Josh, Chickpea curry, Rice, Paratha bread, Papadam, Yogurt raitha dip and Tamarind chutney.

Samrudh Akuthota added that people can eat as much as they want.

Satya Chai Lounge is renowned as one of the best restaurants in Auckland, with the establishment making it into Cuisine's Top 100 restaurants for 2018.