The flavour of Kolkata

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

'Loi Krathong' at Benjarong

It was indeed an interesting bit of news from Benjarong - the premier fine dining Thai cuisine restaurant at South City Mall - that Diwali - our festival of lights has a parallel in Thailand - known as Loi Krathong! What added to it was that keeping the celebration of Loi Krathong, Benjarong put together a food festival from 27th November to 9th December, 2012.

Loi Krathong borrows its name from the words ‘loi’ that means to float, and ‘krathong’ that stands for small baskets or rafts. The traditional 'krathongs', made from banana leaves, contain incense, lotus flowers and candles, which are lit and set to float in water as a ritual during this festival. It is believed that the krathong carries away bad luck and signals a fresh start while people make wishes as their krathongs float away. Benjarong organised  for its guests to float krathongs in large vessels after making a wish to connect with the festival.  

As I didn't have an exposure to the Thai cuisine, I was curious to experience it.

In the presence of some fellow bloggers, the appetizers rolled out in the evening, starting with soup. It just hit the right note with my palate. The thin soup with pieces of chicken, mushroom and spinach omelette was balanced in taste. The pieces of the spinach omelette particularly appealed to me. The soup was followed by Pla Hor Baitaey, which is delicately marinated, dip fried fish wrapped in pandanus leaves - somewhat similar to 'paturi' of Bengali cuisine in look. Loved the tiny, bite-size pieces of crunchy fish with a creamy softness inside. It was served with a transparent-looking sweet chilli sauce. Didn't mind a few helpings. Along with it came Look Chin Gai Ping - grilled minced chicken balls in bamboo skewer served with a dip. It had a fine taste, unlike the spicy kind. 

The soup

Pla Hor Baitaey

Look Chin Gai Ping

The main course started with glass noodles (transparent-looking noodles with vegetables) and steamed rice to go with Burmese Curry and lamb (curry) with hot basil sauce. The Burmese Curry was a sweetish chicken curry, cooked in coconut milk. It's a dish from south Burma and south Thailand, typical of this time of the year. Tried it with the rice. I suppose a dish like this calls for an acquired taste as it didn't exactly appeal to my palate. I had assumed it to be rather spicy. The lamb curry (it had basil leaves in it) was likable. A thumbs up to the glass noodles. Its taste had an edge over regular noodles.

Burmese Curry

The dessert was Khao Niew Sankhaya - a sweetened sticky rice served with coconut custard, made with jaggery. Ended up liking the coconut custard more, as the jaggery helped relate to the famous Bengali desserts of this season.

Overall, a food festival that offered one a peek at the variety of dishes that people in Thailand typically have at this time of the year, as they celebrate Loi Krathong. It would particularly appeal to Thai cuisine aficionados in the city who constantly look for variety. If you have a thing for Thai food, do remember to block a date for Benjarong the time you come to know about their next food festival.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

'Bhooter Bhobishyot' - a brief take

Here goes my wall post on Bhooter Bhobishyot on Facebook:

'Bhooter Bhobishyot' is witty, hilarious, a fresh concept and a nice tribute to the Ray brand of humour. Has some super one liners. Go for it!

Would like to add, Paran Bandopadhyay is superb and Saswata Chatterjee lights up the second half as Haat-kata Kartick (once again after his outstanding 'Bob Biswas' in Kahaani).

Wish the film all the very best!

The 'Kahaani' BO magic

Bidya’s BO magic

Loved to read this article in today's Telegraph about Kahaani's rare box office magic in Kolkata and Bengal! Cheers to Sujoy Ghosh & Co. & the entire cast (Specially the Kolkata actors) to make it happen with a shot-in-Kolkata film with a majorly Kolkata cast and a crew partially from the city. Kahaani magic is largely Kolkata magic as well!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kolkata random 2

by Shreyas Surya DasGupta

Loved this surreal shot by a friend who loves shooting the city in its various moods and moments. Showing a slice of Kolkata 'adda' (The legendary 'chat' by Bengalis) among some senior citizens.

Bhooter Bhobishyot : Srijit's take

Here's Srijit Mukherjee's oven fresh view on Bhooter Bhobishyot on his Facebook wall :

In Tollygunge, we might not have lavish budgets, infinite timelines, never-ending resources and enviable infrastructure, but we do have fantastic actors, superb technicians and most incredible storytelling bug. For a milestone comedy cum satire, and one of the wittiest scripts in the recent times, watch Bhooter Bhobishyot!!

The curiosity to check out the new release is on accelerator mode now!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bhooter Bhobishyot : TOI rating

The Bhooter Bhobishyot poster

Bhooter Bhobishyot gets a **** rating in the Times of India review today. Am all the more keen to check it out at the earliest. Some audience feedback will be fine.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kahaani : a brief take

In a hurry, but can't help sharing my view on Kahaani briefly. Saw it yesterday. So, here goes my Facebook wall post on the same, slightly edited: 

Kahaani is the Kolkata film made in Hindi that finally hits the bull's eye (after failed attempts like Yuva and Raincoat, and Anjan Dutt's BBD that unfortunately never made it to theatre screens). Highly recommended for all Kolkatans and non-resident Kolkatans and all others who love a story-driven, smartly-made film rich with performances. Sujoy & Co., Vidya and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, you rocked! And proud of you - Param, Kharaj, Shantilal and all other actors from Kolkata. Loved to see Indraneil too, who's more of a Kolkata actor now.

Hope to post a complete review. Watch this space.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The 'Kahaani' we are loving to watch

Couldn't resist this one. Just couldn't. Kahaani has been increasingly generating unprecedented buzz in the city since its last Friday release. Nationally too, I learn, the scene is no different. Predictably so, as Kolkata is not a backdrop, but a well-etched lead character in the film, besides Vidya Balan (Or would 'Bidya' Balan be in the right spirit?). The strong reviews, feedback from friends and colleagues.... all are tempting me to catch it ASAP and post something here. Oh... at last a film with Kolkata featuring prominently in it scores with audience (Didn't like Yuva, the last example of such a film that comes to my mind).

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The 'neutral' police administration

It was good to know that the arrogant and foul-mouthed youngster Akash Banerjee was finally arrested in an unusual climax of a not-so-uncommon road drama where he and his friends in a car violated traffic rules yesterday, then abused and assaulted a traffic constable and shoved the traffic police inspector on duty while dropping the name of his famous aunt (father's sister) - none other than the CM of the state - Mamata Banerjee and threatening with grim consequences.

It was great to know that the arrest was at the behest of none other than the CM who was on visit to Darjeeling, and showed good governance in a quick, exemplary action (Though this must be noted that that media had raised its voice about the incident by then). It was indeed a new and welcome experience for people of the state.

But a question remains. Is this the 'neutral' police administration that the CM promised after she took the charge? She has the moral duty to answer (Especially since she heads the home ministry) what precisely led the police to let the brat and his gang walk out of the police station scot-free initially?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bhooter Bhobishyot - a sneak peek

Loved this funny and witty 'official' sneak peek of Bhooter Bhobishyot - the long-awaited debut film of city-based adman-turned-director Aneek Dutta. It's a funny ghost story with an eclectic ensemble cast, packaged as a sensible entertainer. Very Bengali and contemporary in feel. Looking forward to catch it when it releases sometime in March.

The 'bandh', the attack and the denial

Handful of buses (public and private put together), empty streets tempting enough to play a game of football, closed shops , low turnout at office marked yesterday's bandh (Officially an 'all-India' industrial strike) in the city.

I condemn the attack on the Anandabazar Patrika reporter Subhashis Ghatak and photographer Pintu Mondal by Trinamool hooligans for they dared to cover their ransacking the CPI(M) zonal office in Jadavpur yesterday! Following the brutal attack that could've turned fatal, a Star Ananda reporter Partha Pratim Ghosh was roughed up.

It was SHOCKING to know that a Kolkata Police constable off duty, named Tarak Das, was a prominent member of the Trinamool gang! He was clearly seen in the day-long coverage of the incident on Star Ananda. He is a real star indeed, for all the wrong reasons.

What added to the shock was that the CM rubbished the incident later on! This marks the hat trick of her denial after the recent Park Street and Katwa rape cases. As everybody knows, she was proved wrong by her own department (Police) as the Park Street case was cracked and a few key accused were arrested shortly by a team led by DC (DD) Damayanti Sen.

Didi, please think before you speak (to the media). Please remember you are a CM first, and a party supremo later. You are clearly testing the patience of the electorate who voted your party to power.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The strike : how will it be this time?

Don't know how tomorrow will unfold. The industrial strike called by trade unions incl. CITU hints at clashes between the ruling party and the opposition in the city, as the Trinamool-led government is hell bent at opposing the strike. Had enjoyed defying the last few strikes (called by left organisations, SUCI etc) and enjoyed being at work. Will have to watch out first this time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Abar Byomkesh

The Abar Byomkesh poster. The second offering of Anjan Dutt's series on one of Bengali's all-time favourite sleuths is releasing this March.

Monday, February 13, 2012

KC gets the first award!

Well, Liebster Blog Award is actually a token of appreciation presented by fellow bloggers in global blogosphere. My heartfelt gratitude to fellow blogger Panu who thought Kolkata Curry was worth making it to the list of 5 blogs she ‘adores’ and giving the award to.

I am a follower of Panu’s blog Presented by P and love reading her smartly written gastronomic experiences in the city.

Here’s my pick for the Liebster Blog Award:

Chakhori Corner by Sreeparna, Jahnavi, Sohini - a Kolkata food blog that reviews eateries of all kind.
Sakagaze by Anindo Sen – a superbly written personal blog. Great writing on cinema.
Presented by P by Panu
Calcutta Chromosome by Diptakirti Chaudhuri – a personal blog by a non-resident Kolkatan-at-heart.
Bong Pen by Tanmay Mukherjee – a humourous blog in Bengali.

Guys, do claim your award and share it on your blogs. Thanks a ton to each of you for delighting and informing me as a reader. Your blogs have the special quality of making me read them frequently off my limited personal online time. Do keep up the good writing and delight your readers.

Here’s what you have to do to claim the award: Copy and paste the blog award (image) on your blog. Also Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.

You also can
 Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.
 Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog to check out your award-giving blog post.

Any other blogger who is reading this can do the above too to show the appreciation to the blogs he / she like the most.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Kolkata vintage I

Presenting a selection of pictures I loved from Kanad Sanyal's recent album (Read briefly about him in my second last post Saraswati Puja 2012). The famous Kolkata heritage (Mostly in the north part of the city) was effortlessly captured in his camera while he was out on a weekend trail on the streets of the city he loves.

1. Crossroad at Gossainpara Lane
2. 16 Mohun Banagn Lane
3. At the junction of Kripanath Lane and Shovabazaar Street
4. House of Butto Krishto Paul, the pharamacist at 92B Shovabazaar Street
5. Gossainpara Lane
6. Basu Bati at 65 Baghbazar Street
7. Lohia Maternity Hospital at 296B Rabindra Sarani

Monday, January 30, 2012

The new fbb store

Just noticed that the Pantaloon Shoppe at e-Mall (next to my office building) is closed, and the Future Group has just opened an fbb store (The standalone format stocking the fashion range from Big Bazaar) at the first floor. The fbb store is way bigger than the Shoppe, just had a cursory view from outside. Looking forward to tempting deals from the store.

Saraswati Puja 2012

Glimpses of Saraswati Puja, on 28th January. Captured lovingly by Kanad Sanyal, a photographer by passion and a senior corporate person by profession.

A personal favourite is the shot of four girls. Wearing a basanti-coloured (yellow) cotton saree on this day has been a lovingly preserved custom among girls of all ages till even a few years back. But as Mr Sanyal observed, an invasion of pan-India fashion trends (thanks to daily soaps on national television) is fading it out among adolescent and older girls. I too have spotted this trend in recent years. He loved to see these younger counterparts of theirs holding up the custom in a north Kolkata locality.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Chinese breakfast

Fulfilled the long-nurtured wish of the Chinese breakfast at Tiretta Bazar. Had read and heard about it enough to take a resolution to sample the fare. This meal is available from early morning till about 8 am, that's what I heard. Hence unless I planned for it or came across an opportunity incidentally, it wouldn't be possible. The latter happened as I went to Howrah station last week to see off my father to Hyderabad. On way back, hopped on to a BBD Bag-bound mini bus and got down at Lalbazar and reached the place in front of Poddar Court, referred to as Tiretta Bazar (Pronounced as 'Teriti Bazar' in Bengali). Walking past it and looking around, I spotted the Chinese selling their almost-legendary stuff on the road.

Tried the meat ball soup. The Chinese woman put two balls and some clear soup from the container with the soup on boil. As I asked for a spoon, the Chinese guy sitting behind directed me to the nearby table placed on the road. Some Chinese youngsters were having the soup on that table standing around it. Joined them and tasted the soup. Liked the spongy meat balls, made of minced chicken. Followed it up with fish dumpling. Both have a fine taste, and are not exactly finger-licking good type. The meat balls tasted better with chili sauce. Enjoyed both. The prices are reasonable. The soup cost Rs 20 and the dumplings Rs 12 each. Momos were also available. Saw another steamed fish preparation called something that sounded 'Fish pao' - a large flat dumpling with minced fish filling. One single piece should be adequately filling for a snack.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dining at Barbeque Nation

It was a ‘delicious’ conclusion of 2011, thanks to the office lunch at Barbeque Nation, the tandoori speciality restaurant of the well-known national chain at Sector V, Salt Lake on the new year eve. Their offering at the lunch comprises of unlimited kebabs as starters served at individual tables, followed by the main course spread out at the buffet table. The arrangement is the same as Flame n Grill, the tandoori speciality restaurant from the famous Specialty group of Restaurants with chains like Mainland China, Oh Calcutta!, Sigree and others.

Each table has a grill at the centre, which is switched on when guests arrive, whereupon the waiters place the kebab sticks with steaming hot kebabs. One picks them as and when he / she feels like, or turn the stick to avoid burning of the kebabs. There is a flag at each table. The rule is that until a guest puts it down, the waiters will keep refilling the grill.

The non-veg kebabs were Parash Chicken, Sociaty Fish, Pesto Prawns, Lebanese Seek Kebab (Mutton) and Murgh Jeera Tangri (Chicken legs). There’s a complimentary (non-alchoholic) drink too, unlike Flame n Grill (hereafter mentioned as F&G). We chose fresh lime soda. Just like our two office dinner outings at F&G at Park Street, almost all of us in the group kept on gorging the kebabs to the heart’s content, without much of a thought for the main course. In fact many had already decided beforehand to skip it and head straight for the desserts table when they would have had their fill of kebabs.

The kebabs were all yummy and perfectly done. The soft and succulent Sociaty Fish easily topped the charts, closely followed by the juicy Parash Chicken. Taste-wise the kebabs match F&G, only the mutton kebab (Lebanese Seek Kebab) is much better and the fish kebab has a slight edge too. This considering F&G does a really good job with fish kebab. There are six types of not-so-common sauces to go with the kebabs kept on the tables.

The main course was widely laid out with plenty of choices in veg and non-veg, including a variety of salads. After the two F&G experiences where I flew with the tide, I had decided not to go overboard with the kebabs. Now, with limited space in the stomach (How much control can you exercise anyway seeing the kebabs placed before you over and over again?) I first tried the Non-veg Dum Biriyani and the ghosht (a mutton gravy dish), planning to come back later to the Mahi Rezala. The biriyani was good, though not a match to the best in the city (Read Arsalan, Aliah et al). The ghosht was good too. But the rezala put me off royally. Not only that the soup was a mess, they cooked the dish with……..FISH!! And the fish tasted like it was fried not long before being put in the rezala.

At the dessert table a big hit was the hot baby gulab jamuns (slightly larger than kofta balls). Looked like the guys in the group were picking not less than 15 pieces at a time, many topping their ice cream with it. I don’t really have a thing for hot gulab jamun, so it was the firni (in small matkas), a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and a slice of date walnut cake for me. Wasn’t disappointed. The boss liked the coconut jam cake.

All this at Rs 575 (including taxes)! Value for money indeed for any kebab lover with an average appetite that can take up a reasonable gastronomic challenge.

On service front, F&G has an edge though. The replenishment of the kebabs was a bit slow. The Parash Chicken arrived much later. But you would tend to consider this a minor blemish given the taste of the food, especially the core offering – the kebabs. Barbeque Nation is a definite recommendation.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The new serial novels in Robbar

Loved the two new serial novels by Swapnamoy Chakraborty and Ashok Kumar Mukhopadhyay started in the last issue in Robbar - the complimentary Sunday magazine distributed with Sangbad Pratidin (Read my earlier post No Sunday without Robbar).

Swapnamoy's Holdey Golap starts in 1995 in the AIR office in Kolkata. Aniket, the producer of Health and Science shows, is seriously pondering over letters that regularly come in from remote corners of Bengal bearing sex-related personal queries. He is taking a pathbreaking and one of the boldest ever initiatives to produce a show to address the queries in a place as conservative and archaic as Akashvani.

I like Swapnamoy's writing. He is a leading name among this generation's authors.

Ashok Kumar Mukhopadhyay's Aat-ta Naw-tar Surjyo starts long ago, in 1964, in a village called Joypur, near Mogra in Hooghly district, with the story of a struggling family man - Nibaran Chandra . It has an earthy feel.

Keenly waiting to read the next issue for these two.

You can read the issue online here.

Tandoori Nights on Chakhori Corner

Chakhori Corner: Tandoori Nights (Click to read)

Visited Chakhori Corner - the blog I wrote about a while back (Chakhori Corner - the Kolkata food blog), and came across the latest post on this wonderful restaurant called Tandoori Nights on Hazra Road. The kebab platters are finger-licking good, and a fish kebab platter comprising of ten types of kebab is absolutely unimaginable in a non-5-star set up. It's an understatement to say that the idea itself is great!

Give it a read. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Kolkata random

A breather of a photo post after long. Kolkata as captured (in winter) by young journalist Bidisha Chatterjee. Loved the pictures in her Facebook album Shiter sahor. Bidisha regularly writes in Popcorn, the Friday entertainment pullout of Sangbad Pratidin.

1. Bow Barracks
3. New Market during Christmas
4. Flury's during Christmas
5. Morning at Maidan
6. Morning crickte practice at Maidan
7. Trams in front of Raj Bhawan

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The eagerly awaited 'Bedroom' drama

Bedroom games (Click to read)

Loved this kickass two-page coverage of Bedroom in t2. Bedroom - the most eagerly awaited Bengali movie at the moment brings back editor-turned-director Mainak Bhaumik to big screen six long years after his debut in the brilliant Aamra. It flaunts an interesting ensemble cast and a captures a dark, hopelessly honest slice of life, spent in bedroom.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year...

Wish all the readers a happy, healthy, professionally and personally fulfilling 2012 with this just unveiled still of Paanch Adhyay - the under-production Bengali film directed by well-known film critic Pratim D Gupta of (of The Telegraph). It's a 'mature love story' (In the director's words as I read in The Telegraph) starring Diya Mirza and Priyanshu Chatterjee. The classily shot photograph reminds me of a famous still from the cult Uttam-Suchitra starrer Saptapadi.

Here's wishing Paanch Adhyay all the best too.

Check out its Facebook page here for regular updates (as promised by Pratim).