The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Calcutta Restaurants' Facebook group

Can't wait but write about this hyperactive group on Facebook called Calcutta Restaurants. I discovered this group some months back and reluctantly became a member. Thereafter I began to realise how different it was from the other groups I've been a member of so far.

I dislike many Facebook groups related to a common interest because of their pathetically low activity level. But this one is so refreshingly and excitingly different!

It's a group for the foodies, by the foodies and of the foodies. A foodie member makes a post on his / her food experience, a food picture, a recipe or just a casual post on his / her mood for some particular food or cooking some dish or even shopping for cooking something , or to start a discussion on food. Besides posting images of the dishes the members have at restaurants, the images of dishes they cook are commonly posted. The posts are intensely frequent, and there are super active members who make multiple posts in a day and posts comments to others' posts thus contributing to the ongoing discussion. There are some really thought-provoking discussions one can come across here. The posts are balanced between images and texts. One can get to read some wonderful food experiences, including those by Kaushik Chatterjee, an active member, who is a doctor by profession and a true blue foodie by passion. One more thing I like about the group is that it spans all age groups.

Check out the group here. Would love to know the feedback.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bawla Baron

Was bowled over by the first song from Aparajita Tumi, Aniruddha Roy Choudhury's upcoming release, on television. Bawla Baron, composed by Shantanu Moitra, written by Anindya Chattopadhyay-Chandril Bhattacharya and sung by Anindya has a beautifully slow pace, has the Anindya-Chandril signature that we loved in Antaheen, and sung in a not-so-Anindyaisque fashion. Shantanu has lived up to the tall expectation after his memorable Antaheen score with this one song at least. Looking forward to the others. The music was released a few days back.

Do share through a comment how you liked the song (Check out the video posted above).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chicken Roll from Elfin Bar

My foodie eyes had noticed sometime back that Elfin Bar & Restaurant, an old bar on Meredith Street (Near Bentinck Street crossing) frequented by officegoers in CBD had opened a takeaway fast food counter. It mainly sells rolls. Tried its chicken roll the other day. It was better in taste than the ones you get in sundry roll shops around, because of better ingredients, cooking and that it was made with oil instead of vanaspati (which leaves a stickiness on your tongue long after). The prices are regular. The chicken roll cost Rs 20. Would like to come back.

Mutton Handi Kebab at Gypsy

Tried this new dish - Mutton Handi Kebab - at Gypsy - a new restaurant on Chandni Chowk Street (near GC Avenue crossing). I had been craving for some spicy mutton dish for some days, though I had gone there for kebabs. I looked at the photo of the dish once on the menu and ordered it....and didn't regret. It was super yummy!

Mutton Handi Kebab is a spicy and oily dish with small pieces of boneless mutton in very little gravy. At Gypsy they served it with coriander leaves on it. Polished it off with a lachchha paratha, but a naan / butter naan would be a better choice. Priced at Rs 70, it's a tempting deal for any foodie looking for value for money.

Found this picture of handi kebab on the net for putting here as a reference. This was more or less how it looked (Though the dish in the picture is beef).

Gypsy is from the owners of Aminia, the famous Mughlai restaurant at Dharmatala. Kebab seems to be its speciality and it serves them at extremely reasonable prices (within Rs 70-80). It's just a few steps away from Sabir. Am looking forward to try the regular kebabs at Gypsy.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The AMRI Fire

I have little to add on the devastating fire that broke at one of the top and expensive private hospitals (AMRI at Dhakuria) at around 3.30 am that shook the city today. The death toll, rising possibly every hour, reportedly stands at close to 90 now, apparently most of them patients, including many old and immobile. The fire started at the basement and rose up to the second floor.

This is the second biggest fire the city witnessed haplessly after the one at Stephen Court in March 2010!

What I find particularly shocking is that the fire safety of such an advanced institution where people would come to save lives of near and dear ones against hefty expenditure apparently left a lot to be desired! Did they have smoke alarms, I wonder!

As per last update, the CM Mamata Banerjee, who's also the Minister of Health, has cancelled the license of the hospital. Six directors of AMRI (most of them big names in the industry) have been arrested.

This incident has tarnished the goodwill of the AMRI chain (They have another full-fledged hospital in Salt Lake and a newly started maternity and pediatric hospital at Mukundapur on EM Bypass) majorly and the group (Promoted by two leading local business groups - Emami and Shrachi) will have to struggle hard to revive it in the coming years. The healthcare chain expanded remarkably in the last 10 years. Public memory is short in general, but since this is healthcare this nightmare is not going to fade away easily. This incident should also lead to a new benchmark of fire safety standards in private hospitals in Kolkata.

The offenders should receive exemplary punishment in the court of law and the government should leave no stones unturned to do the needful. It's good to know that the CM has vowed the 'harshest punishment possible' for the guilty.

Looking forward to the development that follows.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Two ‘Kachuri’ Experiences

1. Tucked away in Meredith Street, near the Bentinck Street Crossing, is this low-profile, old vegetarian eatery ‘Shivam’s’. It serves a variety of vegetarian fare at down-to-earth prices. It’s my favourite place to eat when I opt for a roti lunch at work and have the time to go out.

Was feeling very hungry post-work last Tuesday evening (the Muharram day). As all the joints I went to were closed, I settled for Shivam’s. Had kachori and alur tarkari (Potato curry). The kachoris were thick and the curry was light, cooked home-style, with less gravy and more potatoes. The curry is markedly different from any other place serving the same food. It was a tasty and filling evening snack with four kachoris (At Rs 16).

Had written about its singara and vegetable chop last year in a tiny post Evening Snacks.

2. This run down telebhaja (Kind of fried Bengali snacks) shop at a dilapidated house at 17 Dixon Lane (Now known as Shahid Sushil Dasgupta Sarani, adjacent to Prachi cinema) is popular for its cheap kachoris. Till two years back or so, it sold kachoris at an unbelievable Re 1 a piece. Went there this morning for kachoris after a long time. The price stands slightly higher at Rs 1.50 a piece now, but the taste is equally good as last time. Keeping with the season, green peas show in the delicious alur tarkari served with the kachori. They also sell jilipi, beguni, alur chop, phuluri, and dhoka among other things.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Mutton Roll at Anil Saha

When Anil Saha, a businessman experienced in the fast food business opened his roll shop (Named ‘Anil Saha’) next to the extremely popular Kohinoor roll centre in Barrackpore Chiria More in the 90’s, many were apprehensive of its success. It was mostly because of Kohinoor’s popularity.

It didn’t take him long before he proved all wrong with a roaring success. It became one of the hottest roll joints in Barrackpore. It has been one of my favourite local joints since then.

One of its best items is the mutton roll. Full with juicy pieces of soft mutton, cooked in a light gravy (Somewhat home-style), it’s just the way a good mutton roll should be. Making this food is indeed an art that few roll joints even in Kolkata city have mastered. The mutton roll from Anil Saha has been a hot favourite since our student days when it would be considered an occasional indulgence considering the megre pocket money we used to receive from our parents.

Went to the place yesterday with an old friend equally fond of the mutton roll. And we ordered it! And it felt great to experience the same old taste! We felt nostalgic. It costs Rs 35 now, but delivers complete value for money. They make the paratha with white oil, not with vanaspati unlike other roll joints. So there’s no greasy aftertaste caused by vanaspati.

For those interested, it’s located behind Roy Optical which is a well-known optical store right at Chiria More junction, near the island. And anyone around can help with direction.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The toast at Chittababu's Shop

My recent visits to this favourite place after a long gap and savouring their toasts brought me to this post.

There are toasts available in the city (at numerous street shops and small joints) and then there are toasts made at Chittababu’s Shop! I sincerely believe few make toasts as good as Chittababu’s Shop. Crisp and brown at places, with a thin streak of just absorbed butter in the middle and a dash of salt ‘n’ pepper sprinkled over. Umm….pure bliss! This non-descript yet legendary shop at Dacres Lane (at Esplanade East, a few minutes walk from Dharmalata / Esplanade metro station) is the eternal favourite of the large population of local officegoers.

Apart from toasts, the ghughni made at this place is extremely popular and markedly different from the regular stuff you get outside home. The ghughni is darker, thicker and taken with two toasts can make you feel full. The package comes at Rs 14. If you take plain toasts (without butter), that’s preferred by many, it will cost Rs 12. A great alternative to ghughni (with toasts) is the liver curry – small pieces of chicken liver in a mildly spicy vegetable curry can make for a memorable evening snack.

Their tea also stands out and needless to say is preferred by many to pair with toast or round off their evening snacking.

The shop is also famous for its fish fry and stew. There are many other pop picks like fish roll, fish pakora and fish chop. They have also been serving chilli chicken and maybe one or two odd Chinese dishes for some years but that cuisine is definitely not their forte and doesn’t reflect their culinary expertise. I also used to love their chicken pakora. A small pakora with juicy chicken inside, a wee bit sweeter than regular chicken pakoras (because of the filling) would make it outstanding. They would come at just Rs 7 apiece. But on my last visit observed that the pakora has become smaller and the taste wasn’t as good. Is rapidly rising prices the culprit? Would have loved if they priced it at Rs 10 and made it a bit larger, while not compromising on the taste. Was the double-digit price a difficult decision to make? I wonder.

(You may also read my old post Chittababu's Shop).