A slice of Bengal through its food. It’s a journey you would want to experience at Oh! Calcutta
Every now and then I get this craving for Bengali food and I drop whatever I’m doing. And I find myself navigating through a narrow stretch of road to find welcoming faces as I enter a genteel Bengali culinary world. And it’s not in Kolkata, it’s right here in Tardeo, Mumbai.
And thank god for that or I’d have to depend on my Bengali friends to feed me. And that seldom happens because, according to them, I only think of them when I’m hungry. And considering I’ve been eating out since the time Oh Calcutta was known as Only Fish (at Mahim), its previous avatar, you know how badly my Bengali friends treat me. But enough about them, I’m here for the food, as usual.
“What do I eat? … What do eat? … What do I eat?” I think as I glance through the menu. I love their Fried Bhetki which I dip in Kasundi and savour as the flavours explode. I love their Jhols, curries for the uninitiated, ladled over steamed rice. I’m extremely partial to their Malai Chingri Curry, it’s oh so yum. And the rich Kosha Mangsho … Ahh it’s divine with Luchhis. And not to forget the Steamed boneless Hilsa, perfect for us non Bengalis, perfect in all ways. Hmmm … Yum! Yum! Yum!
But I’ve been there, done that. “Let me try something new” I say aloud to no one in particular. The manager hears me and says he’ll take care of it. He knows my tastes. As I sip on a fine mango based drink similar to Aam Panna, I wait, impatiently.
And then it begins arriving. First up, Whole Bhetki Paturi, an old and traditional recipe, steamed in a banana leaf in a thick-ish mustard sauce. Delicate and beautiful, the mustard kick leaves you wanting more. Before I can dig in and take another mouthful, the crab arrives. Oh what a glorious looking chap it is, meaty, filled with sweet succulent flesh, coated with a tangy tomato mustard sauce. Kakrar Jhaal. What can I say? I love it. As I gobble quite un-manner-fully, another platter is placed next to me. It’s Sosha Illish, Hilsa cooked in a cucumber coconut mustard paste gravy. I polish it off with rice.
“Stop! I can’t eat any more” I say. Until the next time that is. The manager smiles sympathetically. He knows I’ll be back.
If you want to try making these masterpieces, I’ll generously give you the recipes. The only condition is, you’ll have to call me home to taste them.