The flavour of Kolkata

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Raksha Bandhan gift packs at Yauatcha

The colourful macaroons at Yauatcha, the fine dining oriental cuisine den at Quest, is one of its charms. And now they are waiting nicely packed in boxes for the brothers to be picked up this Rakhi/ Raksha Bandhan as the gift to sisters. Presenting a pack of delicious macaroons to celebrate the love and bond, especially to a sister with a sweet tooth, sounds like a good and new idea that stands out among numerous gifting options.

A box of six macaroons costs Rs 350. They come in vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, chocolate and more flavours.

There’s more- Yauatcha starts gift vouchers at denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. So now it’s easy to send anyone to the restaurant to savor its delicacies as per own liking.

Both are available from 11.30 am to 11.30 pm. Call 922 22 22800 for enquiry.

#RakshaBandhan #RakshaBandhangifts #Rakhi #Rakhigifts #YauatchaRakshaBandhanSpecial #Yauatchagiftvoucher

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tea Treasures- the tea festival at The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata

The approach to tea at The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata is different from other star hotels. The way tea is served at its tea lounge reflects it (read this post). Its aim is to promote tea tourism in the city as it loves its tea and the beverage is an integral part of its rich history and heritage. World’s oldest tea auction house is from this city.

To mark the essence of tea and to revive the tea culture in India, it organized Tea Treasures, a three-day tea festival at its premises over 16th to 18th August. The festival was dedicated to tea lovers and tea connoisseurs and offered a platform to tea producers, tea marketers, tea shops, tea tourism operators and tea joints in the city.

Mr. Rakesh Mitra, General Manager, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group summed it up as, “The Great Eastern Hotel, way back, during the colonial era was a major hub for tea trading, and various activities related to tea. With the aim of bringing forth the legacy of tea trading to people and sensitizing them about tea auctions, tea tourism, tea tasting and significance of tea in the Indian market, we have organized the festival.  Top tea trading companies, tea estates and tea auctioneers have associated with us to discuss about the different nitty-gritties of tea. We would dedicate the festival, in the years to come, to all tea lovers, tea traders and the entire tea industry, bringing all of them under one umbrella and present Indian tea to the rest of the world.”

The festival comprised of talk on various aspects of tea by experts, panel discussions, tea tasting sessions, tea workshop, tea auction and celebrity chats over tea (coinciding with trailer launch/ film release) with an exhibition with various stalls by tea brands, tea estates, tea joints/ boutiques, cafes, bakery, tea tourism players and associated products. An interesting proposition for those who love their tea and wish to explore it.

I attended the second day’s tea tasting session at the tea lounge in the evening. Mr Ravi Suchanti, Vice Chairman and MD of J Thomas & Company, world’s oldest and largest tea auctioneer (from Kolkata), with twenty seven years of tea tasting experience behind him, conducted the highly interactive session participated by distinguished people and a few bloggers. Tables with five varieties of tea and their leaves in multiple sets were placed at a distance for each audience member to taste the tea as guided by the speaker. We tasted the teas by themselves and adding milk and sugar. He spoke passionately and engagingly about the growing and manufacturing of tea, throwing in interesting insights. For example, no two teas will have the same quality even if they are plucked at the same time from the same bush. The quality is comprised of texture, mineral content, flavour and taste.

Few excerpts from the talk:

1. There are a few months between the first flush and the second flush tea. Compared to first flush, second flush is yellow, has more absorbed resources in leaves, mellower in flavour and smoother in taste.

2. Darjeeling tea, being hill tea, gets harder treatment in production than, say, valley tea like Assam tea.

3. There are  three stages of tea production-
     a. Rolling or withering- When tea leaves are plucked, they contain 77% moisture. It is         
     brought down significantly by three stages of rolling
     b. Fermenting or oxidation
     c. Drying- Air is pushed in. The leaves, still green, turn dark.    
4. The time for brewing tea is an individual choice. It should ideally be 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong a brew one wants. But for green tea, which is a self-drinking tea as he called it because it doesn’t need milk or sugar, the brewing time shouldn’t be more than 2-3 minutes, and the water should not be boiling but about to boil to get the best of the tea.
Post the talk Mr Suchanti took questions from the audience. Such a session was for the first time for him, but he handled it with ease.

 Mr Ravi Suchanti in the session

I took a walkthrough of the exhibition happening in a banquet on the ground floor.  The Assam 1860 stall reflected the new age approach with which James Warren Tea Ltd.,  is marketing this new tea brand which is their first consumer product. This one hundred fifty years old tea company has so far supplied tea to businesses like hotels & restaurants and tea brands. The Assam 1860 tea cart is travelling across the city to make people taste it on the streets. They are also signing up corporates to serve freshly made hot tea daily to their employees. Read its review in this post.

Also dropped in at the stall of Melete- a new start-up by home baker Anjee Bhatia from New Alipore offering handmade chocolates, chocolate cakes and truffles, brownies and savouries (pizza cup, quiche, ramekins etc). She started as a home baker like many others in the city and now has a workshop to cater to the increasing orders. As I like brownies, it was nice to see a variety of it in the stall. Melete doesn’t have a retail outlet yet, it takes orders. It also customizes desserts for its customers. Those interested may visit

The Melete stall (Anjee at the left)

The handmade chocolates at Melete

Zee Bangla Cinema used the platform to talk about their new venture Zee Bangla Cinema Originals, which is a series of full-length movies made for television. They are unlike telefilms and have higher production value like a feature film. All the movies are premiering on television and censored for a big screen release later. ZBC launched the trailer of Bonolata, the upcoming film by young director Rik. Saw television director Anindya Sarkar talking about his film Choturanga which has been premiered on 23rd August. Rajorshi Dey, Programming Head spoke about the initiative and Rik’s film. Saw director duo Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha who came on stage later for the launch which I couldn’t check out.  

There was a discussion on the movie Natoker Moto, the film on well-known theatre actress late Keya Chakraborty’s life directed by theatre director Debesh Chattopadhyay on 18th August. The director and cast were present. 

Tea auctions by J Thomas were also held as part of the festival to bring an experience of it to the visitors.

Such a festival paves the way to make the city a tea tourism destination and nurtures the tea culture that’s part of the city’s heritage.

#Tea #Teaculture  #Teafestival #Teaauction #Teatourism #Teamarketing

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dinner at Tung Fong

Rocky and Mayur have ventured out to explore food from all parts of India and curate videos on I'm contributing my part by relishing my favorite dishes at  Tung Fong and sharing my views with you all!

You can also upload your video review on AskMe and stand a chance to meet Rocky and Mayur.

We were at a fix on where to go for our office anniversary dinner. Last two years it has been Arsalan. This year we wanted a change of taste. We wanted to go to some place which is easy to reach by public transport after a hard day’s work. After exploring a lot of options- including a popular new gen Mughlai stop near Deshapriya Park and a relatively new multicuisine restaurant  at Park Street, we zeroed in on two names on Park Street- the just-opened Barbecue Nation near Camac Street crossing and Tung Fong near Free School Street crossing. The scale finally tilted to Tung Fong as we’ve been to the other one a couple of times in the last few years and it didn’t mean anything new to us.

Tung Fong is a leading name in the Chinese cuisine in Kolkata, run by Ms Monica Liu who also helms the popular Chinese restaurants Beijing and Kim Ling in Chinatown at Tangra and Mandarin at Southern Avenue.

As we were waiting for some of our colleagues, I went in with one to keep a table. The waiting area is adequate and nicely done.  It is a spacious restaurant (and bar) decorated classic style.

Butter Fried Chicken, Chili/ Garlic Pepper Fish and Tung Fong Fried Prawn were ordered as starters. Butter Fried Chicken was chicken fingers fried in thin batter and served with sautéed vegetables. The tender fingers made for a good start and went well with the sweet chili sauce and green chili sauce kept on the table, but the chicken was a tad too salty. The fish dish was better- succulent fish encased in a crisp coat of crumbs. The prawn topped the charts. Juicy prawn in a super crunchy crust.

Butter Fried Chicken

Tung Fong Fried Prawn

All were ordered again on popular feedback. The chicken this time was perfect. The fish was softer, not crunchy and tasted even better. The prawn was equally good. My recommendation goes for all three. Starter is definitely a strength of this place.

We took fresh lime soda, whisky and vodka to go with the starters (and not the other way round). Drinks complement the food in our office outings.

Soup came next. The Non-veg Thai Soup tasted average to me. I found it a little too sour for my palate. The shredded chicken in it was also not much appealing.

We came pretty early for dinner, at eight-ish. The occupancy was not high then and it was pretty calm. Saw a few young couples, a young group and one/ two families. The occupancy was rising with time as more families were coming in. The buzz went up a bit, thanks to the little ones. Nevertheless, this is definitely one place where you can have a dinner with friends or family with peace of mind.

Time for mains. We ordered vegetable fried rice (for an odd man out in the whole group of meat lovers), mixed fried rice and mixed rice noodles. As sides we chose Shanghai Fish, Szechwan Chicken and Smoked Lamb. I opted for the mixed fried rice and found it good. Nothing special. Tried the Szechwan Chicken to go with it first.  Tender chicken pieces in a thick, tangy gravy. The chicken tasted good, but the gravy was a wee bit too sour for me. I had expected it to be a little more pungent.

 Mixed Fried Rice and Szechwan Chicken

Took the Shanghai Fish next. The fish was soft and tasty, but the gravy tasted a bit suspiciously similar to the chicken’s. This is one phenomenon I have found in quite a few Chinese restaurants in the city. The smoked lamb was a disappointment! It was very dry and nothing to talk on the taste front.

We rounded off with a yummy hot choco brownie on a bed of ice cream.

A pleasing dinner! Would like to come back especially for the tempting starters.

#AskmeFood #TungFongKolkata #Chinesefoodkolkata #Chineserestaurant #KolkataChinese #ParkStreet #ParkStreetfood

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

The perfect black tea to start the day with

I have always preferred milk tea to black tea. Black tea meant lemon tea to me. But of late I had been noticing that milk tea hadn’t left me feeling good. So I switched to black tea sometime back and fell in love with the form in little time. Not only that, I brought down the sugar in it, which added to the pleasure. Tea has a world of its own and exploring it in its different varieties is not possible with milk, I felt.

The comparison between Darjeeling tea and Assam tea, the two names closest to the mind of people in Bengal is a bit like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The basic difference, as all of us know, is that Darjeeling tea is about the flavour, while Assam is known for its strong brew. Each has its very own characteristics and superiority compared to teas produced anywhere in the world, hence has its own base of followers. And I believe since tea drinking, or for any drinking for that matter, is a personal choice, we shouldn’t compare greats and be content with our preferred tea- Assam or Darjeeling.  

I have always liked my tea strong. The kind made with a lot of milk and sugar and little tea has never been my thing. That’s why I don’t generally like the tea from a roadside tea stall. Hence my case rests with Assam tea.

Few days back I heard from James Warren Tea Ltd., a 150-year old co. making Assam tea. They wanted their new tea to be reviewed on this blog. It is a family-owned business with tea estates as old as the company, located in the south bank of Upper Assam. They say they are blessed with the finest tea gardens in the world. Two noticeable characteristics about their tea are that they make it single-origin and it is unblended, so one always gets the virgin taste. Also to retain maximum quality in the cup, they claim to do minimal processing of the tea.

I received a nice looking box packed with tea bags and a pack of tea.

I first tasted it in the morning, from a tea bag. I gave a full three minutes to the brewing. It came out perfect deep brown, with a light fragrance. And the first two sips told me it was a robust and full-bodied brew, just the kind I look for in my tea. It can give one the perfect pick-me-up during the day. They aptly call it ‘Tea as it should be’.

Those who prefer to take their tea with milk, and like it strong, should love it too. It makes good iced tea too and a recipe was given in the box. It is available on the brand’s website/ Facebook page.

Interesting to note, Assam 1860 doesn’t believe in the middlemen. So they have cut them out in the market and their 20000-strong team strives hard to bring the tea directly to the consumers, thereby keeping it fresher than other teas and affordable too.

The brand has a presence in social media including an active Facebook page, which I found pleasant to read.

Looking forward to continuing with the Assam 1860 experience.

#assam1860, #chaibaggan, #teaasitshouldbe, #India #AssamTea #BlackTea #KolkataTea #Lovefortea

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

A new recruit and a welcome development at Mohun Bagan

Have been feeling like coming back on football after the ISL final post, especially Mohun Bagan, but things were not falling in place.  I was keenly following its I-League journey and was ecstatic after the historic league win, still couldn’t make it to a post.

Of late, liked Mohun Bagan’s new defender recruit- Gustavo Silva Conceicao, the six feet plus 29-year old robust stopper back from Brazil, who has played for Flamengo, a top league club in the country. The pictures of his first day practice at his new club ground earlier this week released on the Mohun Bagan Facebook page generate hope that in the upcoming Calcutta Football League (CFL) he will be the nightmare of the opponent in the defence. Cheers to his remark in the Times of India interview that in terms of fan base he finds Mohun Bagan on a par with Flamengo and that’s one of the main reasons that made him decide in favour of the club.
 Gustavo Silva in practice as eager supporters look on

Gustavo Silva

More cheers to the new development- re-start of merchandise sale after years.  Famous clubs all over the world have it for ages, and it’s a pity that possibly no big club in Bengal has sustained it. So far I’m aware, Mohun Bagan pioneered it here, but couldn’t continue. East Bengal followed but met the same fate. Hope this one continues forever. The severely cash-strapped club desperately needs additional revenue sources, and if judiciously and smartly planned and implemented, merchandise can become a significant revenue earner for the club thanks to its massive fan base. Enquiries are already pouring in on its FB page on whether they are being sold online, whether there are outlets in the city etc.

Currently four products are available- T-shirt (Rs 350), coffee mug (Rs 200), key ring (Rs 35) and wrist band (Rs 30)- only from the club tent. The t-shirt definitely looks tempting.

All merchandise

The Mohun Bagan t-shirt up for grabs

Hope the fans lap them up and add style to their fandom.

Looking like some smart moves are being made by the club management of late. The merchandise followed the well implemented ‘VIP stand seats for sale’ at Salt Lake Stadium in the last I-League. The ticket included a sumptuous treat including fish fry and sandesh. Looking forward to the same this CFL apart from some good football.

Pictures are acknowledged to the Mohun Bagan Facebook page.

#MohunBagan #KolkataFootball # GustavoSilva #MohunBaganmerchandise

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