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China’s curry king’s next target: India

A Tamilian, who taught the mainland Chinese to eat curry, is now eyeing India to expand his $74 mn empire. But this time, Chettinad magnate Munuswamy Gnanavelu, wants to serve the authentic Chinese fare he has eaten for 34 yrs in China, reports Reshma Patil.

business Updated: Sep 21, 2008 00:33 IST
Reshma Patil

A Tamilian, who taught the mainland Chinese to eat curry, is now eyeing India to expand his $74 million empire.

But this time, Chettinad magnate Munuswamy Gnanavelu, 58, alias Antony, wants to serve the authentic Chinese fare he has eaten for 34 years in China. Sorry, Manchurian will be off the menu.

About three months ago, Antony, the founder of China’s best-known Indian brand, the 24-restaurant chain, Indian Kitchen, registered the companies Chinese Kitchen and Kung Fu, in Chennai. “I’ve been up and down India and found that Indian-Chinese food is not at all healthy or authentic Chinese cuisine,”' Antony told HT from his Zhuhai office in south China.

A native of Thirukalukundram near Chennai, he started the first Indian Kitchen in 1990 in Macau. Today he employs 1,600 Chinese, over 200 Indians, and also makes spices.

“Indian-Chinese is full of artificial colours, oil and chemicals like ajinomoto,” he said. “I’ll start my own plant in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu to process sauces and ingredients to serve healthy Chinese food.” To open doors to business in India, Antony recently started two ‘authentic’ Chinese canteens for Chinese IT students in southern Vellore and Salem.

At the Vellore Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu, the busiest canteen serves over 400 Chinese IT students. The next branch will open in Mysore, Karnataka.

"There are such wonders in Chinese food, even vegetarian and spicy dishes, which Indians are still not aware of,” he said, adding that he will need two years to start Chinese Kitchen on a franchise basis starting with Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. The Chinese Kitchen will have glass kitchens preparing dishes like spicy Sichuan Hot Pot and Wunan cuisine known as food for emperors.

“I have planned acupuncture, foot massage and tea corners in my restaurants,” he said. Kung Fu will be a fast-food brand.

In China, Antony aims to coax the Chinese to eat curry once a day. He calls his next business plan ‘curry in a hurry,’ based on a vision of Chinese walking on the streets munching chapati rolls and sipping lassi.

Next month, he will head to India to plan his new Kitchen.