Bengali new year: Restaurants offer gourmet far

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Kolkata, April 14 (IANS) From irresistible mochar chop (plantain flower cutlet), to kumro phul bhaaja (pumpkin flower fritters), to daab chingri (jumbo prawn in green coconut), mutton and a variety of lip-smacking traditional desserts like misti doi (sweet yoghurt) – restaurants here have laid out grand thalis to set the taste buds tingling on Poila Baisakh – Bengali New Year’s Day – Monday.

“We are offering a special menu on April 15. The dishes include boneless Ilish (hilsa fish), a variety of preparations of golda chingri (lobster) and different starters,” Subhajit Pal, the restaurant in-charge at Aaheli – The Bengali restaurant of Peerless Inn – told IANS.

To set the mood for the special day, Aaheli has set up a rostrum where Rabindra Sangeet tunes will be played live through the day.

Many other famous restaurants are all set to offer out-of-the world buffet spreads.

One can escape the oppressive summer heat in the homely interiors of the popular eating joint, 6 Ballygunge Place, gulping down aam porar sorbot (roasted mango pulp juice), before dipping into tempting basanti pulao, suktoni (mixed vegetables) and enchor kofta kalia (jackfruit balls in gravy).

No Bengali feast is ever complete without fish.

Murola macher peyanji (deep fried whitebait fish and onion pakodas), chitol macher muithya (clown knife fish sausages in gravy) and bhuna chingri (prawn) are all on offer at 6 Ballygunge Place.

Those with a sweet tooth can relish aam doi (mango yoghurt) and kum kum.

Says executive chef Sushanta Sengupta: “For every Bengali, Poila Boishak is a time of nostalgia, as much as it is a celebration. It is a time for families to come together and celebrate, for friends to rejoice. Keeping this in mind, we have created a buffet that comprises food that is sure, by its taste and smell, to remind people of all things Bengali.”

A newly opened restaurant “Rajbarir Khawa”, in Santoshpur on the city’s southern outskirts is ready to serve a delectable thali comprising lau chingri (gourd prawn), mochar paturi (plantain flower baked in banana leaves), doi katla (fish in yoghurt gravy), mutton dak banglow (mutton in brown sauce), kesar kulfi and pan.

“We have the thali system on Poila Baisakh and other special occasions so as to comfortably handle the crowd. It’s not possible to cater to the crowd if we also have huge variety in the dishes,” the owner, Debjyoti Sharmacharya, told IANS.

“As people are very health conscious these days, we serve food which is cooked in low oil and prepared in a homely manner. That is the USP (unique selling point) of our restaurant” said Sharmacharya.

The plush Hyatt Regency on the E.M. Bypass, in the satellite township of Salt Lake, has also arranged a special Poila Baisakh lunch and dinner buffet at its Waterside Cafe.

To greet the New Year, Hyatt is offering a wide array of traditional Bengali dishes with mochar chop, bati chingri (prawn), chingri malaikari (lobster in cream and coconut milk), kosha mangsho (mutton in gravy) to some lavish sweet treats. They have a separate pricing for beer lovers to beat the heat.

‘Sonargaon’ of Taj Bengal – another five-star property of the city – would usher in the new year with a Bangla Mahabhoj (Bengali gala dinner) which promises to give an experience of the state’s culture and culinary heritage.

The plates are made of clay or laid with banana leaves to give a feel of the traditional food habits of Bengal.

“Bangaliana” (Bengali tradition) will be all the rage, come Poila Baisakh.

(Meghna Ganguly can be contacted at [email protected])

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