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Restaurant Review:  Chourangi, London

08/11/2022 by .
Chourangi exterior

Anthea Gerrie samples the flavours of old Calcutta at Chourangi off London’s Oxford Street.

I blame it on the prawn cutlets – the crowds gathering outside Chourangi, that is, on a wet Wednesday night.   They were waiting for seats not in a smart cocktail bar, as you might expect in one of the tonier enclaves of the West End, but an Indian restaurant open barely a year.   Although given the hefty shaking and clinking of ice going on at the bar as the night wore on, perhaps they were queuing for the cocktails and mocktails after all.

Judging by the diners packing out every table in a large, glamorous room steps from Marble Arch, however, it is the Calcutta cuisine in which this latest purveyor of subcontinental delights specialises which has principally grasped the imagination of Indian food aficionadoes looking beyond the tandoori-focussed fare of the Punjab and the biryanis of Hyderabad.

There are a few biryanis on the menu, but they are regional interpretations, and many of Chourangi’s specialities were totally new to me, like the aforesaid chingri (£16.50) – a cutlet of chopped prawns pressed, breaded and fried into a kind of seafood schnitzel which was introduced to Calcutta in the 19th century and is said to remain all the rage on the city’s College Street.

Chourangi interior

Then there was the kosha lamb (£24.50), hefty in both price and portion, developed in an area of the city where slow cooking over fire was introduced nearly a century ago.  Think succulently tender lamb shanks cooked on the bone in oceans of mildly spiced gravy thick with aromatics – and the much more tangy (as the name suggests) tangra chilli paneer (£13.50), whose spicing was brought to Calcutta by immigrants from Tibet.   All are favourites with regulars on a menu which caters as imaginatively for vegetarians as carnivores and seafood lovers.

04. Chingri Cutlet

Coming back to those vegetarians, a starter not to miss is banana-flower croquettes (£11.50) flavoured with coconut, cinnamon and mint before being breaded and fried (a theme developing here), while jackfruit pot-roasted with green cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf (£17) offers veggies a substantial main course with a bit of crunch to get their teeth into. Jackfruit also makes an appearance in one of Chourangi’s biryanis alongside more conventional chicken and lamb iterations.  But carb-counters should note that Calcutta biryani is distinguished by the addition of potato.

Banana flower croquettes

16. Grand Trunk Black Dal

For this diner, the stars of my Chourangi feast were the sides rather than the main events; slow-cooked urud dal, with cream added when the 24 hours are nearly up, may be a child of the Punjab, but it is exquisitely executed here as Grand Trunk Black Dal.  At £12.50 per bowl which feeds two liberally, with £4.50 for what may be the capital’s finest butter naan, that’s possibly West One’s best value meal deal washed down with a Cobra or two (there are, surprisingly, only two beer brand choices on a menu which boasts an extensive list of wines by the bottle and glass and several signature cocktails).  A dish of pulao enriched with cashews and sultanas came at a hefty price for rice at £10.50 but would serve three as a main course accompaniment.

Sandesh tart with coconut ice cream

We expected to have no room for dessert but somehow managed to share a deliciously-textured sondesh tart (£7.50) – a kind of Indian take on cheesecake with date molasses and pecans in the mix as well as curd cheese – and some good coconut ice-cream (£7).  And the classiness of Chourangi extends beyond the excellent food service to the willingness to pack up leftovers with care; my second prawn cutlet had a pot of the deliciously creamed mustard dipping sauce tucked into the takeaway bag.   The fact there were two prawn cutlets in the order in the first place tells the story – Chourangi is a smart place which serves unexpectedly large portions, and thus carries on the tradition of Indian menus being best enjoyed as a set of sharing dishes.  No wonder they come and queue for as long as it takes.

Tell me more about Chourangi Indian Restaurant

 Chourangi, 3 Old Quebec Street, London W1H 7AF

T: 020 3582 2710   E: hello@chourangi.co.uk


4 thoughts on “Restaurant Review:  Chourangi, London

  1. Afreen shaikh

    The food is really good and ambience of the restaurant is just amazing it was a very nice experience ☺️❤️


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