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Abigail Spooner explores authentic Calcuttan cuisine in the heart of London
Nestled down pedestrianised Old Quebec Street in Marylebone, just around the corner from Marble Arch station.
Chef and Indian restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee has partnered with his friend and fellow entrepreneur Aditya Ghosh to bring the flavours of Calcutta to the London food scene. This is much more than your go-to tikka masala curry on a Friday night. While crowd-pleasing curries are certainly on the menu, you can also expect a culinary adventure inspired by Calcutta’s rich 300-year-old cultural history: a blend of British, Dutch, Armenian, French, Portuguese and Chinese cuisines.
Much like the food, the inviting restaurant interior reflects the essence of Calcutta. Tastefully muted colours, limestone floors, stained rattan furniture and overhead fans evoke the atmosphere of the Bengali region. There is a buzzy atmosphere on a Friday night to the background of relaxed jazz music.
We begin with a bowl of smoked chilly poppadoms, which is the perfect appetiser alongside our bottle of Assyrtiko white wine from Greece. We dip into a couple of contrasting chutneys: a sweet-yet-smoky tomato version and a deceptively fiery mint sauce. We are spoilt for choice on the small plates menu but opt for the two dishes that appear most intriguing. Opening up a banana leaf reveals a steamed crab and prawn parcel flavoured with mustard, lemongrass and coconut. For our second starter, kamal kakdi chaat is a deliciously flavourful combination of textures – crispy lotus stem chips are paired with roasted sweet potatoes, a sweet chilli jaggery chutney and cooling dollops of yogurt.
From the large plates, we are keen to try the two hero curries. The daak bungalow chicken curry is rich with tomatoes and cashew nuts, while the tiger prawn malai curry is uniquely presented in a hollowed-out coconut. The jumbo prawns are succulent, and our garlic and nigella seed naan is especially good dunked into the generous coconut curry sauce.
The dessert menu is limited but our choices hit the sweet spot. The sondesh puff is a little baked curd cheese and date tart with pecans, and the frozen pistachio and saffron kulfi is a lovely palate cleanser to round off our feast-for-the-senses dinner.
Indian restaurants are a crowded market in London, yet there is no denying their popularity, and Chourangi stands out from the crowd with its unique take on Bengali cuisine. You’ll pay more than your run-of-the-mill curry house, but the food and atmosphere are worth every penny.
The malai coconut curry sauce, which I could drink by the spoonful.
Visit chourangi.co.uk for more information.