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Meet the chef: Anjan Chatterjee, the leading chef-restaurateur bringing Calcuttan cuisine to London

Anjan has teamed up with childhood friend Aditya Ghosh, one of India’s most celebrated and highly regarded business leaders, to launch an authentic Calcuttan inspired restaurant – Chourangi – in central London.

By LLM Reporters  |  January 10, 2022
Anjan Chatterjee

Chef turned restaurateur Anjan Chatterjee is the founder of India’s prolific group of restaurant chain, Speciality Restaurants Limited. The group now operates 130 restaurants including Mainland China and Oh!Calcutta

Anjan has recently teamed up with childhood friend Aditya Ghosh, one of India’s most celebrated and highly regarded business leaders, to launch an authentic Calcuttan inspired restaurant – Chourangi – in central London.

Chourangi is located at 3 Old Quebec Street in Marylebone, a chic residential area of the English capital littered with upscale boutiques and stylish restaurants. The 70-seater restaurant opened its doors to the public in October 2021.

With every ingredient personally sourced by Anjan, his aim is to firmly put the unexplored flavours of Calcuttan cooking on London’s exciting food scene. For those who have never experienced it, Calcuttan cooking is a unique blend of British, Dutch, Armenian, French, Portuguese and Chinese flavours that have been forged over a 300-year history.

Dishes will feature the best spices from Calcutta (like Anjan’s own five-spice rub and Aam Kasundi mustard), coupled with the finest sourced ingredients in the UK, including prawn and crab parcels, banana flower croquettes, slow roasted kosha lamb and aam aachar hilsa.

The 2,900 sq. ft site marks Speciality Restaurants Limited’s first excursion into the UK, with the design nodding to the British heritage clubs and famous Coffee House of Calcutta, featuring neutral Indian limestone floors, rattan teak-stained furniture and whirring fans.

We sat down with Anjan to find out more about the man himself and his hopes and expectations for Chourangi.

Chourangi restaurant interior
Chourangi is located at 3 Old Quebec Street in Marylebone, a chic residential area of the English capital littered with upscale boutiques and stylish restaurants

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including where you are today, professionally, and what got you here? 

Cooking has been a passion for me from childhood. After my stint with the Taj group of hotels, my mission was to bring the unexplored flavours of Calcutta to London.

What or who inspired you to become a chef? 

My mother.

Who has been your biggest influence to get you to where you are today?

Undoubtedly my parents and their teachings.

What’s your signature dish?

Boneless bhapa illish (steamed mustard shad).

What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?

The most important consideration in crafting the menu has been one top note of an ingredient and have a unique flavour representing the city of Calcutta.

How would you describe your cooking style? 

The philosophy of my cooking is based on three forms – steamed, baked and grilled.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

When it comes to Chourangi, my favourite ingredients have been paanch phoron (Calcutta five spice powder), kasundi (Calcutta mustard), aam ada (mango ginger), gondhoraj lebu (Calcutta’s fragrant lemon).

Food at Chourangi
Chourangi celebrates the harmonious blend of European, Mogul and Chinese cultures and food that has evolved in Calcutta, a place known as ‘the city of joy’ in India

What is your favourite ingredient to create with?

Love.

What would you be doing if you didn’t start out as a chef?

An artist.

What is your favourite dish to cook at home?

Paanch Phoron Lamb Chop.

When are you happiest?

The biggest pay off for me is to get appreciation from a satiated guest coming back to my restaurant.

What differences do you find working with local produce as opposed to non-local produce in terms of what you can create and flavour? 

When it comes to ingredients England is a dream country for any chef. We have carefully picked up ingredients like Welsh lamb and blue swimmer crab to blend them authentic spices of Calcutta and many more to bring out the best.

What is your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?

Combi oven.

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

Calcutta fish curry and rice.
 
Where is your favourite place to dine in London? 

China Town.

What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend?

Fusion food.

Food at Chourangi
The menu features contemporary takes on dishes eaten in Calcutta, drawing inspiration from the people, culture and culinary traditions of a city where there is always a reason to celebrate

What do your future plans entail?

To establish multiple outlets of Chourangi and to offer unexplored authentic flavours of India.

How do you go about menu planning? What’s the process from picking the ingredients to getting them fresh into the kitchen and into dishes?

I strongly believe that the freshness of the ingredients is a key to preparing good food. From visiting the Billingsgate Fish Market to some of the best vegetable markets in London, I have carefully picked up the produce from the best source. Besides some of the ingredients not readily available here are being imported through bona-fide food importers. Chourangi’s menu is a tribute to the produce of London carefully cooked with the authentic spices of Calcutta.

How would you describe the food you create at Chourangi to someone who’s never experienced your kind of food?

A journey through the unexplored flavours of Calcutta.

What’s your favourite flavour combination?

Yoghurt, kasundi (Calcutta mustard).

What is the USP of Chourangi?

A blend of unique spices of Calcutta combined with the English produce.

Factbox

Chourangi

Address: 3 Old Quebec St, London W1H 7AF
Phone: 020 3582 2710
Website: chourangi.co.uk