The flavour of Kolkata

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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fusion Food Fiesta at Casa Kitchen, 12th to 27th March 2016

Keeping up with its practice of coming up with a food festival every season of the year, Casa Kitchen, the fine dining vegetarian restaurant at Hotel Casa Fortuna on AJC Bose Road, near Camac Street, is holding Fusion Food Fiesta.
I like the experimentation that the restaurant keeps doing with its menu through such food festivals to offer its patrons new flavours besides the tried and tested north and north-west Indian dishes. The dishes that are favoured the most by the guests in these festivals make their way to the a la carte menu. So I don’t miss an invite from Casa Kitchen to a food festival and didn’t for this one too. I avoid the media meet and work out a suitable slot (generally evening) to sample the menu and the management happily accommodates. This way, the thoughts behind various dishes and their cooking process come clearer.

The corner sofa by the glass wall overlooking the busy AJC Bose Road and Gorky Sadan is my favourite seat. Enjoyed my fresh lime soda in a warm afternoon before the food arrived.

Fresh Lime Soda 

It started off with Tomato Wonton Soup which is a Continental-Chinese fusion. It’s the good old cream of tomato soup with vegetable wontons in it. I love this tangy broth they prepare here and this variation with wontons was good too. It set the palate up for a long innings ahead.

 Tomato Wonton Soup

The Yoghurt & Lemon Soup was interesting. It’s a broth of beaten yoghurt mixed with butter with lemon and coriander added, making it an Indo-Chinese fusion. The salty taste of the yoghurt soup gently kissed by lemon brought a pep to the palate.

 Yoghurt & Lemon Soup

Starters made a good opening with Vegetable Shami Kebab with Salsa. The perfectly done, rightly spiced shami kebabs played well on the palate in the company of the hot and tangy Mexican sauce.  

 Vegetable Shami Kebab with Salsa

 Salsa sauce

Paneer Fritter served with Hot Garlic Sauce (Indian-Continental fusion with a Chinese sauce) was rather flat. Anything based on paneer will need to have an extra zing to appeal to my palate. This one was cheese-stuffed paneer fried with bread crumbs. The cheese seemed lacking in the bites. The sauce made up for the taste to some extent.

 Paneer Fritter with Hot Garlic Sauce

Schezwan Paneer Tikka (Paneer again!), which was Szechwan sauce-marinated char-grilled paneer, was OK. This Indo-Chinese combo will be a little too hot for children.

 Schezwan Paneer Tikka

The last one in starters that I sampled was Stuffed Potato with Cocktail Sauce. Baby potatoes with scooped out inside and stuffed with cheese mixed with pimentos and grilled to perfection. I am not an admirer of potato-based dishes, but the filling and especially the tangy cocktail sauce (a familiar condiment in Europe and US with seafood dishes) made it worthwhile.

 Stuffed Potato with Cocktail Sauce

Tried the Mexican Pulao and Cheese Olive Nun with a side of Baked Conjee Veg & Macaroni in the main course. The latter is macaroni pasta first cooked with vegetables (Chinese-style) and white sauce, then covered with cheese, mixed with red sauce and baked. The spiciness of the red sauce didn’t counteract the light, creamy pasta inside. For a pasta lover like me, it was a delightful new experience!

 Baked Conjee Veg & Macaroni

The Cheese Olive Naan is a variation of the regular naan. Good experimentation!

 Cheese Olive Naan

The Mexican Pulao, served in a white handi created a burst of flavours inside the mouth. The Awadhi-style navratan pulao cooked with Mexican herbs had a refined, rich taste, sweet at places thanks to dry fruits, and played along well with the sharpness of Mexican herbs. It easily was the best highlight of the well-curated menu!

 Mexican Pulao

Wound up the delectable meal with Garam Masala Brownie which I was told was a trending flavour in desserts. The rich chocolate brownie topped with chocolate sauce and Indian garam masala like cardamom was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with garam masala powder. The brownie baked in-house was good as usual though didn’t taste much different, but the new flavour of the ice cream (thanks to the spices) was quite likeable.

  Garam Masala Brownie

Only tomorrow is left before it draws to a close. Make up your mind if wish to savour a vegetarian meal with some interesting fusion.

Time: Lunch- 12.30-3.30 pm and dinner- 7.30-10.30 pm
Pocket pinch: Rs 1000 plus taxes for two

#GoodVegFood #FusionCuisine #VegFusion #CasaKitchen #VegFoodKolkata

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter eggs at Yauatcha

It’s the time of the year to unwrap the eggs at Yauatcha, the oriental fine dining restaurant at Quest. And there are two of them on offer.

• White chocolate Easter egg with a filling of coconut mousse
• Dark chocolate Easter egg with a filling of coco truffle crunch

They pocket pinch is Rs 325 plus taxes each and they are available till 31st March 2016.

(Based on information provided by Yauatcha)

#EasterKolkata #Yauatcha #EasterEggKolkata

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Spreading smiles in Holi

A Facebook group took the happiness from the festival of colours several notches up by sharing it.

Spreading Smiles is a Facebook group with an aim to bring smiles to the less privileged people of our society. Created in July 2014, it has grown to more than 4400 members till date. They do one event a month at a chosen orphanage, shelter home or old age home, and the event comprises of spending a day with the inhabitants; playing, chatting and eating with them to make them feel special. I came to know about this group from founder member Vishal Goyal last year, who have been in consistent touch with me and have sometimes, most politely, drawn my attention to their monthly events.

It’s a personal belief with Vishal that the true meaning of celebrating any festival is spreading and sharing happiness with others. Sharing this belief, Spreading Smiles celebrated an early Holi on 20th March, Sunday, with the children in Jana Siksha Prachar Kendra, a shelter home for girls in Salt Lake. There were twenty three girls between four and fourteen years of age who participated in the celebration. The place was decorated with balloons, games were organized and prizes were given to winners, and staff members from McDonalds put it all up without any charges. When one shares a meal with such a group it makes them feel even more special and brings a greater joy to the occasion. So they ate lunch and drank thandai with the children. They also received gifts from the group members.

Thereafter the members started playing Holi with the children. It was a big surprise for them and the happiness on their faces when they saw the colours was beyond words. Their excitement was such boundless that they almost snatched the gulal (powdered colour for dry use) from the Spreading Smiles members and smeared their faces with it. As Vishal shares “Those moments can never be explained, one can only feel them! We became kids with them. This was the best Holi celebration of my life and my group members present there feel the same.” The experience has encouraged the members to celebrate every possible festival with such children.

Vishal with the kids

Here’s wishing Spreading Smiles all the very best. May they continue living up to their name.

By the way, if you wish to share your joy of special occasions with those less fortunate, be it children or senior citizens, Spreading Smiles can help you select the place and do all the arrangement. The only service charge will be the opportunity to spread smiles more. And the only condition (if you call it any) is to become a member. Find them here.

Photograph courtesy: Vishal Goyal

#HoliCelebration #ShelterHome #SocialWorkKolkata

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Holi special menu at Goldbrick

Other than colours and friends and family, Holi is incomplete without mouth-watering food. Keeping this in mind, Goldbrick, the restaurant at Mukti World, Ballygunge, has laid out a Holi special set vegetarian menu with traditional Indian food only for 23rd and 24th March 2016. What’s more, with each purchase of the set meal, a customer gets a movie voucher from London Paris, the multiplex at Mukti World, valid between 25th March and 13th April 2016.

The menu:
Welcome drink: Thandai (in kulhar)

Starters: Cocktail Samosa and Papad Dahi Ke Kebab.

Soup: Tamatar Aur Dhaniya Ka Shorba

Salad: Tossed Green Salad and Lacha Onion

Main course: Paneer Khas Kadai Dum, Gatte Curry Wali, Dal Makhani, Assorted Indian Breads (Kulcha, Paratha) and Jeera Rice.

Dessert: Baked Boondi with Vanilla Ice Cream

 The starters and salad

 Baked Boondi with Vanilla Ice Cream

Time: Lunch- 12-3 pm and Dinner- 7-11 pm
Pocket pinch: Rs 500 per person (all inclusive)

#HoliSpecialMenu #Goldbrick #KolkataHoliSpecial

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ananda Plus Bioscopey Bajimat season 6: Part II

After the third round Kaushik-Mimi was leading and Dev-Subhashree was trailing, with company from by….surprise….Srijit-Rupam! Srijit got a really tough question in this round (What was the name of the character played by Churni Ganguly in her film Nirbashito?). The answer was: No name was given to the character. Ironically the question got passed on to Kaushik-Mimi who answered it as expected (For those uninitiated, Kaushik Ganguly is the husband of Churni and produced the film).
The fourth round called ‘Playscope’ was not quiz. It was the highlight of all the fun that the audience had out of the show. Mir called each team and asked it to perform to a given situation or gave a challenge. Here are the funniest ones.

Team 2 (Rituparna-Joya) was called and after a brief note on the Indo-Bangladesh friendship and a reference to the recently concluded Asia Cup final (Where Bangladesh lost to India in a closely fought match), the contestants were asked to do arm wrestling! Both were taken aback for a moment. To add to the embarrassment Prosenjit was called (rather persisted by the emcee to come over) to officiate it. After an initial resistance by both Rituparna and Joya, the game started amid cheers from the peers in the audience and ended in a draw (no prize for guessing why, smarter women!). But it was great fun seeing two leading actresses in an official fight! It seemed the contestants enjoyed the most. The pictures will tell you.



Next up- team 3 (Srijit-Rupam). Rupam was asked to sing ‘Benche thakar gaan’, his chart-topper from Autograph, Srijit’s directorial debut, and Srijit was asked to, hold your breath……..match steps with it! The resistance this time (from Srijit) was obviously longer. Kaushik Sen taunted that it was destiny’s way of doing justice to all the hardship that he had put Kaushik through filming Zulfiqar. Srijit had no other way but to fall in line as refusal would be unsporting. So as Rupam sang, he matched steps in the most disinclined manner, holding Mir.


Team 4 (Anindya-Kaushik) was given a tougher task albeit on similar lines. Kaushik is playing the evil ‘Kalo Bhromor’ in the under-production movie based on Niharranjan Gupta’s story (both named Kalo Bhromor) on his popular fictional sleuth Kiriti Roy. Anindya had to sing the song ‘Ghorete bhromor elo gunguniye…’, prefixing ‘Bhromor’ with ‘Kalo’ on the request of the emcee and Kaushik had to play the ‘Bhromor’ (bee) and move all around. Kaushik pulled it off with his presence of mind by indicating the moving bee with hand gestures.


In their turn Parambrata and Paoli (Team 6) was asked to do this: Param was to play Anjan Dutt (His director in the upcoming Hemanta) who was auditioning Paoli. Param lapped it up and with the help from the pair of Anjan Dutt-style dark glasses provided to him gave us a brilliant act peppered with the familiar gestures and vocal style of the eminent director. He deserved bonus points for this which was easily one of the most hilarious parts of the contest.




Last turn- Team 7 (Dev-Subhashree). In their comeback film Dhumketu the unit was to shoot in Narkanda, a town in the Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh last winter. Due to heavy snowfall the director had returned as he had fallen sick. It was incredibly cold and senior journalist of Ananda Plus Indranil Roy, who was with the unit to cover the shoot, felt like returning leaving his assignment. The story narrated by Mir goes like this: Dev and Subhashree sustained the inhuman weather staying together in a hotel room thanks to a single piece of blanket and a room heater. Mir asked the pair to show the audience how they achieved this feat. He also helped them with a blanket and a room heater (which he said were the same blanket and heater. He even smelled the blanket and asked Subhashree if the perfume was Chanel). Dev struggled to play this bouncer and ducked it saying he had no other way as he was the co-producer.

As obvious to those who are familiar with Mir’s performance, he was at the top of his game throughout this round and even put up mimicry of Indranil Roy calling up his boss Gautam Bhattacharya from Narkanda and pleading to be allowed to return. This got the loudest applause! He also kept on flirting with the girls helping with hand mikes and props.



The last round was a rapid fire and Gautam Bhattacharya took over. It was the ‘Ananda Plus’ round and comprised of questions based on articles and film reviews published in Ananda Plus in recent times. Each team had to nominate one contestant and he or she had to face the quizmaster form a seat centre stage. There were 45 seconds to answer all questions.

All the teams except Srijit-Rupam and Anindya-Kaushik performed decently to competently in this round but Kaushik Ganguly, representing his team, outshone others. Dev used his guessing skill to come up with a good performance. The other teams were represented by Abir, Rituparna, Srijit, Kaushik Sen and Param.





As expected, Kaushik Ganguly and Mimi Chakraborty were the winners. This marks Kaushik second win in this contest. Parambrata and Paoli ended as the runners up. Dev-Subhashree ended well. The final tally:

Team 1- Abir & Jisshu: 50
Team 2- Rituparna & Joya: 50
Team 3- Srijit & Rupam: 30
Team 4- Anindya & Kaushik Sen: 35
Team 5- Kaushik Ganguly & Mimi: 65
Team 6- Parambrata & Paoli: 55
Team 7- Dev & Subhashree: 50

Every team was called and given away a memento and other prizes. Soumitra Chattopadhyay was called to do the initial honours. Param probably loved the dark glasses so much that he continued wearing it. I couldn’t wait to catch the winners receiving the trophy as it was quite late. You can catch it on Ananda Plus or the Anandabazar Patrika website




The dinner was hosted by Oh! Calcutta. We walked into the clubhouse to sit and eat. It was a pleasant surprise to see the biggest of all stars closely- Saurav Ganguly enjoying his meal surrounded by a constant stream of visitors- common people to celebrities. Everybody who was there seemed to want to say ‘Hi’ to him. He figured high on the selfie wishlist. These few moments took the enjoyment of the pleasant evening a few notches higher.

#BioscopeyBajimat #AnandaPlus #AnandabazarPatrika #CelebrityQuiz #BengaliCinema #FilmQuizKolkata

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Ananda Plus Bioscopey Bajimat season 6: Part I

The entire film industry turned up at this annual event of Ananda Plus, the entertainment supplement of Anandabazar Patrika (the largest circulated Bengali daily in India), celebrating Bangla cinema, to contest or cheer, at Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC). This is the sixth edition of the biggest celebrity quiz show of Bengal. The film quiz with film personalities was started as a brand initiative of Patrika, the weekly supplement of the said Bengali daily in 2010 at the same venue and this blog talked about it in this post (Link).

As I walked in with my daughter who wished to be starstruck, I saw Rupam Islam giving bites to the TV channels exclusive to this event. He was followed by Rituparna Sengupta, Dev, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Parambrata and Paoli. Rituparna wasn’t much late because she was a contestant.

Mir took the stage at 7.34 pm as the emcee of the evening, slightly more than half an hour post the scheduled time. He walked through the audience and went up on stage in characteristic dramatic fashion. He was surrounded by bouncers, his hands were tied and lips sealed.  The reason as revealed immediately after being freed was that he being the quizmaster had been receiving a constant stream of ‘friendly’ requests from the contestants for letting out some of the questions. As things reached a peak close to the show time, he was locked in a room in that state.

The teams (of two contestants each) were called on stage one by one, and the stars arrived in style- driven one each by a golf cart. After a customary short banter by Mir they were seated.

 Joya Ahsan being taken to the stage in a golf cart

The team 1 was Abir Chatterjee and Jisshu Sengupta- the ‘Twin Byomkesh’.

Mir with Team 1- Jisshu and Abir 

Team 2 was high on glam quotient- The reigning queen Rituparna and Joya Ahsan- the popular actress from Bangladesh, who wowed us with her performance in last year’s hit Rajkahini.

 Team 2- Rituparna and Joya Ahsan

Team 3 was made up by director Srijit Mukherji and one of his favourite singers- Rupam who has sung in most of his movies. Srijit has an enviable track record at Bioscopey Bajimat since he propelled his team to win the first edition back in 2010.

Team 3-  Rupam and Srijit 

Two new faces in the starry league formed team 4- singer-turned-director Anindya Chattopadhyay whose star-less directorial debut Open Tee Bioscope was a success of 2015, and actor Kaushik Sen, who is increasingly being considered for major character roles these days. Kaushik was suavely dressed in a white shirt and grey trousers. His close crop and toned physique seemed to be for Srijit’s Zulfiqar.

 Team 4- Anindya and Kaushik being welcomed on stage

Team 5 had director Kaushik Ganguly and actor Mimi Chakraborty. No prizes for guessing who this team depended on. Kaushik’s team won the title in 2014 with Raima Sen as the co-contestant.

 Team 5- Mimi and Kaushik

Team 6 was a fine balance of ‘cerebral’ and ‘graceful’- Parambrata and Paoli who acted together in Kaalbela (2009) apart from other movies.

 Team 6- Parambrata and Paoli

And the last but surely not the least in box office value, team 7 had the eagerly awaited comeback pair Dev and Subhashree.

  Team 7- Dev and Subhashree

There was a match referee too, going by the practice in this contest, in case arbitration is required. Prosenjit played the role. He was seated on a throne.

 Prosenjit (right), the match referee

The contest rolled out after a short audio visual on the 1922-born Anandabazar Patrika. There were 10 marks for each correct answer, 5 bonus marks and no negative marking for wrong answers (which relieved a few teams). The first round was called ‘Bioscopey Big B’. There were questions (including audio visual questions) on Amitabh Bachchan. The second round was ‘Bioscopey Soumitra’, based on questions on Soumitra Chattopadhyay (who was present in the audience) in a similar pattern.

Dev’s answer to one question in the second round created the first ROFL moment. On asked in which Satyajit Ray film Soumitra was cast opposite Waheeda Rehman, he, after a deep discussion with Subhashree, answered ‘Abhisar’. The answer was ‘Abhijan’.

Post second round, except Kaushik-Mimi and Dev-Subhashree, all were at par at 20. Kaushik’s team lead at 35 and Dev’s team trailed at just 10.

A packed lawn at RCGC

 The quiz in progress

Round 3 was ‘Bioscopey Ekal’. The contestants were asked questions based on contemporary Bangla cinema which they were all part of. There were questions based on Chotushkone, Bunohansh and Belasheshe. Rituparna got her second sitter in this round and she scored at ease. The question to her team was “Who sang the female version of Basanta ese gechhe after Anupam’s version was shown. But poked by Mir, she couldn’t answer what Lagnajita’s surname was.

There was a touching gesture from Ananda Plus after this round. A competent but unsung actor was recognized for his 35 years of film career- Kharaj Mukherjee. His acting prowess is unquestionable, he gets frequently cast in all kinds of cinema, yet he is neither much seen on posters nor is nominated for awards. Gautam Bhattacharya, sports editor and entertainment editor of Anandabazar Patrika and the man behind the show went on stage to call the actor. Koel Mullick, who has shared the screen in numerous movies with the actor, presented the memento named ‘Awprokashyo Nayak’ (Loosely means unsung hero). Needless to say, it was a deeply emotional moment for Kharaj who I consider as one of the best in the business and capable of playing a protagonist any day in the right role.

 Gautam Bhattacharya (Left) and Kharaj Mukherjee

 Kharaj being handed over the memento by Koel

Mir was in his elements as he mimicked Ranjit Mullick right after Koel was back to her seat. This act was repeated later on.

The first part ends here. Watch this space for the second part which had some intensely hilarious moments, mostly thanks to the next round called ‘Playscope’ where the each of the teams was called to act or do anything (in performing art) as directed. Part II is coming later today.

#BioscopeyBajimat #AnandaPlus #AnandabazarPatrika #CelebrityQuiz #BengaliCinema #FilmQuizKolkata

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