Drown yourself in some chilled mishti doi and Bengali literature at Kolkata Kitchen
A large poster of goddess Durga, Shreya Ghoshal crooning a beautiful Bengali number and a copy of an English translation of Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali bearing the original Bengali script in his handwriting on the bookshelf — Kolkata Kitchen at Vignananagar is neither a bookshop nor a music outlet.
When couple Sonali Sengupta and Suresh R. started to miss the famous Kathi rolls they had back home, they started Kolkata Kitchen as a small joint serving this popular snack. It has now become a full-fledged restaurant serving authentic Bengali food. Complete with a billing desk designed like a tourist bus called, ‘Kolkata to Bengaluru' and posters and photographs of Bengali icons, Kolkata Kitchen's charm lies in these little details.
Suresh, who is into advertising, took it upon himself to convert the place into something that would reflect everything that Kolkata stands for. “We wanted the place to seem homely and welcoming to anyone who steps into the place. There's a pinch of Kolkata in everything here,” he says.
And, I would say it is more than just a pinch. The couple's love for Bengali culture was evident not just in the ambience but also in the food. “Bengalis love to eat anything with rice or chapattis, and fish is our favourite. None of the dishes is too spicy or oily. However, be it the pulav or the gravy, there is a hint of sweetness in almost everything. We serve food that you will find in any Bengali household,” says Sonali.
You could start with their special Bengali thali comprising of an array of signature Bengali curries to go with the vegetable pulav. The sprinkling of raisins and cashews in the pulav comes as quite a surprise if you're used to the spicy south Indian avatar. Gravies include chicken kosha, aloo poshto and channa dhalna.
Like in Orissa
The green peas kachori served with dum aloo is a must-have. The fish items are quite popular among customers. “The fish curry tastes more like what is made in Orissa. Unlike south Indian gravies that tend to be thick, the fish curry here is quite light and thin,” says Maheshwar Patel, a regular customer.
For others, the books available here (both English and Bengali) are a major attraction.
“I love the hospitality of this place. It is just like coming home to a leisurely meal. I've even finished reading quite a few books that they have here,” exclaims D. Ghoshal, another customer.
For most of us, Bengali food is synonymous with delicious sweets and Kolkata Kitchen does not disappoint. Try the payash, the delicious chilled mishti doi or rossogollas. If you visit on a Saturday, you'll even get to sample the Kolkata Kitchen special khichdi which is made by Suresh's mother.
If you'd like to take back a souvenir to remind you of the experience, you could buy one of the coffee mugs which has trivia about Bengal printed on it.