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COVER STORY


Some say that it depends on Bengali culture’s obsession with food, others claim that the explanation lies in entrepreneurship of the Bangladeshi immigrants,” he said. Finally, Curry Life spoke to Mr Kamrul Quddus Rainy who has


Kamrul Quddus Rainy has two restaurants in different city. Razmoni in Stockholm and Nojon Moni in Västerås,


created a brand with his Razmoni restaurants in Stockholm. Currently looking for an opportunity to expand in other places,


BeNgalI desIgN W


hen Nahid Hasan enlisted the help of


designer Eva Jo Hancock to mastermind


the


interior of his new Bengali restaurant, Shanti Ultimat, he wanted her


to


understand exactly what he wanted to achieve. So, he took her and photographer, Andreas, to Bangladesh for a full immersion


in the


country’s heritage from Old Dhaka to the green tea plantations of Sylhet. “One of the most beautiful memories of the trip was in Sylhet,” says Eva Jo. “We took a lot of inspiration from there, and Dhaka was incredible. We went round the street restaurants, the fruit market, the fish market where we saw goats’ heads. We got some fantastic pictures. It was a very intense week. I think Nahid wanted us to know what Bangladesh is like, because we had heard so much about the struggles and sacrifices and pride of the Bangladeshi people – it was to get a glimpse of what they have been going through.” Eva Jo took many of the ideas back to Sweden where she recreated some of her vivid impressions of Bengal in Ultimat, and started, as she puts it,


to build a “three dimensional


fairytale.” It took two to three months to excavate and “get the soul” out of the place for it had undergone several incarnations as different restaurants over the past 50 to 60 years The result is a fusion of East and West. “The floor was inspired by Lalbagh in Dhaka,” Eva Jo explains. “I would have liked to bring the pattern from the tiles with me so I could make it exactly the same but that was impossible, so it is a tribute. I also


wanted to recreate the serenity I felt there. There were a lot of people running round taking pictures but it was the overall feeling of serenity which hit me.” Inspired by Nahid’s use of organic ingredients and fair trade products, Eva Jo used materials that were eco friendly such as the egg oil tempera paint which is based on ecological products. “This kind of paint you can’t buy in a shop, she explains. “It changes colour depending on the sun. It’s a magic kind of paint. I wanted the whole experience to have minimum carbon footprint.” Even the tables are hand made. One of the most outstanding features in the restaurant is the towering picture of the Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore. “Ever since I met Nahid I have known that this poet is very important to the family,” says Eva Jo. “To me, it was an amazing link between Sweden and Bangladesh, because he received the Nobel Prize for literature here. I think a lot of people seeing this portrait of him would be curious to know more about him.” One wall has a series of moving pictures of Dhaka’s incessant traffic. “I had a vision in my head – I wanted to show what a big, fantastic city Dhaka is and all the struggle involved in getting around - it took me 10 minutes at least to cross the street! So this video is like a little “hello” from Dhaka with all the sounds of the traffic that follow you into the bathroom,” she laughs. “Nahid is very proud of his heritage, though he himself is global citizen, he always takes the chance to speak about his home country. When you feel you have the freedom to interpret his visions then you work even harder to do it the best you can.”


6


Rainy loves his Indian restaurant business. He has been operating this for the past 20 years, with a loyal customer base of regular customers and business people. He also has another 160-seat restaurant run in partnership, in Västerås, about 110km from the city of Stockholm. This restaurant call Nojon Moni has also been busy since it opened. Rainy believes location is crucial for the success of the restaurant. “You have to decide what type of customers you want, as well as having a good team,” he told Curry Life. Interesting to note for restaurant owners, at present, Bangladeshi restaurants in Sweden are not experiencing the same staffing problems as in the UK where many curry houses have had to close because of difficulties recruiting workers from the subcontinent. Although Sweden is in the EU the salary threshold for bringing in non-EU workers is less stringent than in the UK. Of course, there are not so many restaurants, so Bangladeshi and Indian staff are still available. Most however, are trained on the job rather than being qualified master chefs who have been headhunted from elsewhere. It remains to be seen as to whether Sweden will go on to follow in the steps of the UK and become a nation of self-certified curryholics. When and if, it does, the days of the meatball may well be numbered! Smaklig måltid!


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