Eating quality food leads to a quality life. The importance of good food, especially one that is indigenous to a place or region, cannot be overemphasized. Assam for instance, is home to a variety of mouth-watering cuisines and delicacies that have attracted food lovers from around the country to its dining table. One important ingredient in most of the food eaten in Assam is meat. All over Northeast India, of all the types of meat available, pork is one of the most common meat staples.
Entrepreneur Bedanta Bhagowati’s restaurant, Raja Mircha, in Guwahati, is doing an excellent job in providing these pork delights to their loyal customers.
Raja Mircha is known all over Assam for their delicious traditional meals, carefully placed on the menu to provide first timers and regular customers an absolutely unforgettable experience. Their well detailed menu includes meat-based cuisines like the mutton and chicken delicacy and several other fish and vegetarian options. However, pork is their bestseller. Some of the most-loved items are Pork with Bamboo Shoot, Pork with Mustard Greens, Pork with Sesame Seeds, and Pork Thali.
Bhagowati hails from Guwahati, where he schooled and nurtured his love and curiosity for Northeastern food recipes. His entrepreneurial journey started when he began helping his dad in his restaurant Shivadham, with menial jobs like dish washing, cleaning the tables, and many others.
“My childhood was spent both in Guwahati and Shillong as my dad was working in Meghalaya PWD as a junior engineer. Thus my curiosity and craze for Northeastern recipes grew from a very early stage. I used to be a mediocre student and had no particular aim in life. I went to Delhi for further studies but had to come back to Guwahati abruptly for some personal reasons. Later, my dad was diagnosed with cancer but after a successful surgery in Chennai he came back and continued to run his successful venture Shivadham. Dad eventually took voluntary retirement for health issues. As I had nothing to do at that time, I started helping him and my elder brother by doing every kind of work, from table cleaning to dish washing and and more. I gave my full time and effort,” Bhagowati recalls.
For Bhagowati, the Northeast means more than just his birth place; this rich cultural region is home to so many traditional recipes. As a young adult, Bhagowati spent most of his time exploring different places in the region to learn all he could about several recipes. He says, “I had some money saved, so at those times, I travelled through the other states of Northeast. From these trips, I started learning local cuisines from local people.”
“By the end of the year my notebook was almost full with different recipes. Cooking was my passion. I used to invite friends to Shivadham and treat them to my various recipes, especially pork. Pork recipes were my USP,” he added.
Bhagowati’s journey to what is now known as Raja Mircha was not smooth sailing as he had to tackle various daunting challenges. He began with running a fast food joint in Shivadham with his dad’s support, which became an instant hit. “It did so well and was beyond everyone’s belief. Unfortunately Dad left us in 2006 losing the battle with cancer. My elder brother took over Shivadham and I continued serving him.”
Naming his mother and wife to be his constant support, he says, “With the little savings I had, I managed to tie the knot with my wife, Chumki, in 2012. As I had no regular source of income, later in 2013 I decided to try my skills with ethnic foods. My younger sister and brother-in -law supported me with the idea and elder brother allowed us to use the space near Shivadham to build my restaurant. And on 24th March, 2013, Raja Mircha was born.”
The menu was entirely his own recipes. Twists and turns and fusions basically. Bhagowati started with 20kgs of pork and now his present daily requirement is nearly 150kgs. “Word of mouth publicity and Facebook helped me a lot. My mantra was less items and quality products. Here I need to mention that I was penniless just before the opening. Prakash, who is now my 1st kitchen assistant, told me that I could finish my work; he lent me Rs 5000. I even remember once I had to walk all the way back to Silpukhuri from Dispur because I was broke. But my family never gave up on me,” he says with a small grin.
Bhagowati also revealed a few of the current challenges he faces daily, including the competitiveness of the business, as new Pork Thali outlets are opening up, with some even slashing the rates by 50%. While this is a challenge to stay on his toes, he said such start-ups are great for the growth of the community, and he wishes them well.
Ever since Bhagowati began Raja Mircha, the business has thrived on customer feedback, which has been more positive than negative. In fact, Bhagowati has witnessed an exponential growth in the number of loyal customers all across Northeast. “Raja Mircha is now known by people in almost every state in the Northeast and beyond. In fact, I had previously sent pork dishes to Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and even New Zealand,” he says.
Not many restaurants can boast of the same level of success as Raja Mircha especially in such a short time frame. Bhagowati attributes this success to two concepts; hard work and passion, and admits that one cannot survive without the other. With his motto, “Believe in yourself and do your work with passion, no one can stop you,” Bhagowati truly is aiming for the start up.
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