A DATE WITH DEBADITYA AND SHILADITYA CHOUDHURY
Debaditya is ten years younger than his brother Shiladitya Choudhury but it is a delight to see such wonderful brotherly aﬀection as we meet to bond over lunch at Mani Squareʼs 4o5 and take a peep into the world of two extremely successful eateries that they have begun ‒ Chowman and Oudh 1590. Both brothers are diehard Kolkatans and both love music. Shiladitya also fronts a successful public relations agency, Sagittarius PR, and Debaditya is also a musician who plays for Lakkhichhara, one of the most popular Bangla rock bands of our city. But both brothers are avid food lovers and they make no bones about it!
As Debaditya says in his website, “Music and food are the two things for which the world around me looks colourful. Chowman is just not a business venture for me but itʼs a dream. My dictum is to democratise ﬁne dining by serving 5-star standard food at reasonable prices. Chowman will give you an experience like never before and always make you come back.”
The Chowman chain of restaurants kick-started in 2010 to give Kolkata a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine and is one of the cityʼs ﬁrst small format ﬁne dining chains that has gone beyond the limits of China Town and brought the much-loved chilli chicken and mixed chow mein to almost every paara door! Chowman even has a takeaway that several youngsters use regularly for their staple meals. The Master Chefs hired by Debaditya and Shiladitya are amongst the best in the business and do justice to a menu that ﬂaunts a lavish spread of chicken, ﬁsh, prawn, duck, crab, lamb and pork. The same menu is also available for home delivery and supplied as fresh and hot as it should be. Most of the essential ingredients ‒ from sauces to crockery and cutlery ‒ have been imported from Thailand and China. The ambience has been created with an eclectic décor from the markets of China and Hong Kong. Combining contemporary elegance, an intimate ambience and an unparalleled service, Chowman certainly presents a hallmark of authentic Chinese cuisine within reasonable budget.
Shiladitya informs us that Chowman has plans to expand to other metros by 2017. Speaking about the expansion plan, Debaditya says, “Since its inception, Chowman has established its presence across nine locations in and around Kolkata and will open three more outlets soon. In December, the company would be opening its ﬁrst outlet in Mumbai and will expand with six outlets in 2016. From 2017 onwards, we will be launching in other metros, including New Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune and by the end of 2018 Chowman hopefully will be present across all major cities of India. Though we are primarily self-funded and take support from national banks, we might look for private equity investors if the need arises. By the end of 2020 we are targeting to open 50 outlets all across the country.” The company also has plans to introduce its mobile application for home delivery wherein the food will get delivered at any location around the city within 30 minutes. Customers can pay online or can opt for cash on delivery.
The other ʻbabyʼ of the Choudhury brothers, Oudh 1590, has also become a huge attraction. They have expanded from the initial outlet near Deshapriya Park to Salt Lake which has been exclusively and lavishly designed by Nitish Roy, the celebrated Art Director of several hit ﬁlms, to recreate the splendor of the palaces of Lucknow Nawabs. “We have been researching this culture and cuisine for ﬁve years and have brought in bawarchis working in the Tunday-waligali in Lucknow,” revealed Debaditya.
Authentic bawarchis and khansamas toil away to give customers a taste of Nawabi cuisine with handis spilling over with kebab, biryani and shorba. It is a dining experience that instantly transports you to the lip-tingling range of Awadhi delicacies made famous by nawabs like Wajid Ali Shah whose khansamas brought with them the taste of Lucknow to Kolkata. Besides an exotic variety of biryanis, including a vegetarian platter, the kebabs throw up names synonymous with the galis of Lucknow — Kakori, Galawti, Burrah and Shammi. The Awadhi specialities include Nehari, Magaj (brain) Masala and Keema Kaleji. And there are ﬁsh tikkas, shami kebabs and zafrani kebabs!
The new outlet at Salt Lake certainly rekindles the romance of a Shaam-e-Awadh not only through its food, but also the ambience created by paintings from the Mughal era, crafted wooden wall panels, chandeliers, bell metal crockery and thumris and ghazals by Farida Khanum or Begum Akhtar playing in the background. Drop in and experience the magic. You could even at a pinch spot Ranbir Kapoor, the Bollywood heartthrob tucking into his favourite biryani at a corner table!