Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh! Calcutta Oh! Yes

This has been a heavy duty food week with a nawabi lunch at Karim's (Gurgaon) a few days back consisting of Biriyani, Burra Kebab, Chicken Afghani, Jehangiri Qorma and the masterpiece - Mutton Raan, this was followed by Haleem from Pista House. And it was only fair that it ended with a lavish Bangali spread at Oh! Calcutta (Nehru Place, Delhi) this afternoon.
Coming back to the lunch, some school and college friends of mine planned this a few days in advance and exchanged emails to get into the mood. This post by Shantanu Ghosh (a highly recommended food blogger) obviously upped the ante.
Bangali cuisine is quite elaborate to begin with. A normal lunch at a Bangali household is usually a 4-5 course event - starting with some veg/fish fries as appetisers, a veg curry, dal, a non veg curry (fish/chicken/mutton), and a sweet dish. So, when you come to the most well known Bangali chain in the country for their Sunday lunch do budget for 1.5-2 hours and tie the belt a little loose.
The lunch started with some very well prepared fish chops, crisp and fresh with kashundi (mustard sauce), and the ubiquitous luchi and chholar dal. They also had some seafood and chicken salad, though I can't vouch for their bangaliness.
Then we moved the the steamed rice and veg part of the meal. Though the Bangali cuisine is better known for it's machh (fish) and other non-veg side, we do have a heavy armoury of the the torkaris (veg curries)! As you can see, the greyish curry next to the rice is perhaps the most famous of them all - shukto. Somewhat similar to avial in the southern part of India and the mixed-veg sabzi of the norh. Along with that there was doi potol (a very Indian vegetable whose English name I am not aware of, cooked in a curd based gravy),  and aloo-fulkopi posto - between the shukto and chholar dal in the picture. This is a dry-ish dish of potato and cauliflower smeared with posto (poppy seeds).
And now the 'main course' the amish or the non-veg part of the meal. I apologise for the poor clarity of the picture, by the time I reach this part of the lunch I am usually too one-tracked on the food and lose the focus on the photos. A trait that I may not try to rectify too soon!Anyway,, the reddish to the top left of the plate was Tomato Rui Machher Jhol (Rohi fish in a thick Tomato based curry) more or less a staple at most homes. Next to that is the most authentic home made murgir jhol (chicken curry) you will come across. And finally the chingri machher malai kari (prawns cooked in a coconut based gravy). All three items reeked of the bangali home kitchen and brought back fond memories to the table of 5 bangalis living in Delhi, nteresting none of us are from Kolkata, which seems to be the only place in Bengal that anyone seems to know!
There was a most well prepared Mutton Biriyani with the Bangali style whole boiled potato in it. However, by that time I had dug into my plate with my hands and so there is no pictorial proof of the same.


By the time we were through with this we couldn't move too many muscles in the body, least so the mouth and legs, however a Bangali meal being incomplete without the mishti (sweets) we had to attack the chaler payesh (a rice & milk concoction) and Rosogolla (I won't translate this).








A weekend lunch buffet (they don't have dinner buffets) will come to around 600 INR with taxes. On the whole the place definitely gives you an slice of the Bangali cuisine. But remember, you will do justice to the place only if you go when hungry, very hungry!
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