The flavour of Kolkata

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

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).