WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS
As a child I had a limited palette, and by limited palette I mean my snack of choice was water biscuits (weird name for the driest biscuit on earth) and butter. This wasn’t out of deprivation, it just took a while for my taste buds to ‘develop’. And once I finally branched out from edible cardboard there was no going back. I became extremely experimental with food - something that still comes back to haunt me as my mum likes to tell distant relatives at dinner parties that “the freezer is still full of tupperwares filled with frozen grapes with ‘coatings’” (I’m still sure my ‘frape’ company would have been a roaring success had I taken it to Dragons Den).
Indian food was especially exciting for my newly developed palette purely because each dish is bursting with flavour (and it’s so versatile!). The only thing is I’ve never been any good at the cooking part of Indian food. So when F WORD were invited to try out the menu at high-end Indian restaurant Chourangi I was excited.
Before living in London I was sure I’d spend most days sauntering around Oxford Circus and Bond Street (and probably live there). The reality is that I go three times a year and spend most of the time marveling at how many new American sweet shops have popped up.
Chourangi is located between Bond Street and Marble Arch and restored my faith in the fact that central London isn’t just American candy stores. From the outside it looks warm and inviting and definitely a welcome sight for the cold, wet days of winter. The host ushered us in and we were taken to a round table near the corner of the restaurant, which gave us a good look of the whole restaurant. Despite not being particularly small in size, it has an intimate feel that makes it great for a date. It also has an exciting feel to it - you get the feeling that people are talking about important things, although maybe I’ve just been spending too much time in loud Dalston bars which are anything but mysterious.
Each cocktail on the menu had a twist or a special ingredient. We enjoyed everything we tried but both agreed that the margarita no.3, with pineapple jam & pink peppercorn was the best (perhaps too drinkable!).
By the time our waiter approached us to take our order we had already skimmed through the menu and ruled out the banana flower croquettes, deciding it was too dessert-like for a starter. Of course this ended up being the waiter’s recommendation so we did a quick u-turn and added the prawn cutlet too. Ignoring any croqu-etequitte I went straight for picking the croquette up with my hand and dipping it into the sauce. Actually, the sweet and savoury flavours balanced each other out perfectly and the sauce was delicious. The prawn cutlet tasted fresh but was slightly too heavy for a starter.
After umm-ing and aah-ing over the mains (everything looked so good), we opted for tiger prawn malai curry and the chicken chaap, along with garlic calcutta naan bread and rice. The rice was good but the price seemed extortionate, even for two people to share. The curries were well sized and at first glance I wondered if we’d finish them. Well, finish them we did and I was close to licking the plate (but quickly remembered we were near Bond Street and this probably wasn’t acceptable… is it acceptable anywhere?). We used our naan bread to dip into the remaining sauce from each curry (both of which were rich without feeling too creamy). When food tastes this good I’ve often left feeling tired and sluggish but, despite the rich flavours of each, we left feeling refreshed (always the sign of a good dining experience!).
We were almost too full for dessert but how often do you have the chance to eat warm pistachio sweetened milk cake dumplings and steamed mango curd? Both were light and the perfect end to the meal and although I will never be able to replicate either sometimes the best experiences in life are one-offs.
The food was great, our waiters were attentive and the atmosphere was warm. We left Chourangi feeling happy, full and with a new favourite Indian restaurant. Maybe this is the reason I need to visit central London more often…
To check out their menu and book a table: https://chourangi.co.uk/