By Shashi Sunny
This is certainly a new high as far as restobars go. Pudding & Mink is a cocktail room like no other in the world. Why, you ask? The concoctions served here are based on Ayurvedic recipes. And if the founder Tejuswini Chowdhury and her team are to be believed, it will help control negative effects of alcohol and food.
“I am constantly learning new ways to incorporate Ayurveda into my life, especially as a young mother wanting the best for herself and her child. The idea of combining Ayurveda with city life, nightlige to be precise, stemmed from that concern,” she says.
It all began four years ago when Tejuswini discovered that Ayurveda is a storehouse of wisdom. She thought that the science of balance can help her balance people’s stressed, imbalanced lives.
A foodie by her own admission, Tejuswini recalls how the idea of food was confined to that of just eating. After she became a mother, putting nutritious yet delicious food on her son’s plate became a daily challenge. That’s when she turned to Ayurveda. The daily chore led her to dig deeper and soon the interest turned deeper, even as she became fascinated by the thought of a restaurant with a menu based on Ayurveda. Wasn’t it a risky preposition, we ask. “I have always marched to my own tune. I was able to convince people and get their support. Pudding & Mink was thus born,” she says. It is named after her pets.
At first, it was tricky balancing time between her son and the restaurant, but she tried her best and also got a support system in her family. “It is critical to get the support of your family and gender roles have to be thrown out the window,” she says.
An experience at Pudding & Mink begins with an exhautive form filling process based on an Ayurvedic test. Guests are then informed by their body type and what food and drinks are best suited for them and are most in sync with their system. The menu is categorised according to body types. “We encourage people to forget about calories and allow their taste buds to choose. Mosts guests don’t mind spicy or sometime bitter drink, which is telling of their unconscious balancing of their body types,” she says.
But, how does alcohol and Ayurveda meet? “If Ayurveda was a religion, nature would be its goddess. If you mix a drink keeping ancient Ayurvedic tenets and remedies in mind, every recipe will be perfectly balanced. Also, we use natural, organic, freshly squeezed ingredients, which means the end product has a balance between nature and chemical, and is designed to counter the toxic load on the liver and kidneys,” Tejuswani says. It also means there are no morning-after hangovers.
Ask her about the recipes and Tejuswini is quick to say that these are not to be shared since it has taken endless hours of experimentation and research to develop each of these. What she does share are the names of ingredients. “Chyawanprash is used in one of our cocktails, a first-of-its-kind. It tastes delicious and helps the system. Another drink has homemade rose petal jam that helps in cooling the system down, improve heart function and help one sleep better,” she says. It is the first time that someone has created Ayurvedic cocktails, and no one will be complaining.
There is already a buzz about the place with some interest from the abroad too. “Yes, we habe queries from the West, especially because they have respect for Yoga and Ayurveda. It is an exciting time to be in.”
Tejuswini has always been adventurous in spirit, she is a certified Hatha Yoga teacher, a Vipassana meditator, and has dabbled in modelling too. We asked Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury’s daughter about her preference for a career in politics, she retorts with a laugh, “Just a year ago, I had no clue that I would be in the F&B business. I don’t try to predict what the future holds going with the flow. I would join politics just because I belong to a political family but bevause I have compassion for people. I am focussed on expanding and streghthing Pudding & Mink for now,” she says. So, don’t be surprised if you are served a chyawanprash cocktail in New York.
For now, Pudding & Mink operates like a prive club, restricted to a members only, about 400 of them. “I want Pudding & Mink to be a powerhouse of freethinkers and enterprising individuals from different fields,” she adds.