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A taste of 'Sonar Bangla'

There is much more to Bengali cuisine than `mishti doi' and `macchher jhol'. To sample Bengali food check out the on-going Bengali Food Festival - Calcutta Diaries - at Deccan Pavilion ITC Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

GASTRONOMIC ADVENTURE: Foreigners check out the cuisine.

KNOWN FOR their sweet tooth and appetite for macchher jhol, Bengalis everywhere are regarded as great `foodies.' Regardless of the fact that Bengali cuisine quintessentially begins and ends with fish, a variety of items were seen at the on-going Bengali food festival at the Deccan Pavilion, ITC Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel and Towers. One of the many counters at the buffet had the spread of dishes from the eastern State easily identifiable with the sign `Calcutta Diaries' and the image of the eyes of `Durga'.

A Continental fare of pasta puitanesca and devilled aubergines interspersed with archetypal Bengali cholar daal, paanch mishali and rui macchher kalia.

Blame the taste for the temptation, but the culinary delights showcased under `Calcutta Diaries', brought to Hyderabad a rich, distinct flavour of Sonar Bangla even as connoisseurs went ga ga over the taste. . The festival is a part of the regular buffet.

"Known for their unique cuisine - a flavour so spicy yet simple - the compelling taste will just make one keep asking for more. As a part of our Hotel's tradition to reveal the culinary heritage and hidden treasures of Indian cuisine, we decided on Bengali food as it has not been focussed here in South India, as much as it deserves," says Kakatiya executive chef O.P. Khantwal. "The response is tremendous. I am happy at the way people here have accepted the cuisine," he continues.

CULINARY EXPERTISE: Chef Khantwal and Sunita Ganguli.

Despite the fact that the spread in `Calcutta Diaries' keeps changing everyday for the duration of the festival, the Bengali fascination for aloo (potato), begun (brinjal), rosogolla and macchh (fish) could be well gauged by the ubiquitous presence of these items.

From Prime Minister Vajpayee's favourite Bengali dish jhingri macchher malai curry, the menu offers a diverse choice - - aloo bhaja, potoler dolma, shukto, dhokar dalna, phool kopir dom, aloor dum, begun basanti, kacha aamer chutney, tomator chutney, cholar dal, apart from the famed bhappe elish, doi mansho, bhetki macchher jhal, rui macchher kalia, kosha mangsho, hasher deemer torkari and aachhari murgi bhaja.

No account of Kolkata or Bengali food is complete without a eulogy of mishti doi, paayash, rosogolla, indrani and lal Mohan. An array of other sweet items, like rajbhog, sandesh, sitabhog, kachha golla and malpua are also being offered

Devised by food connoisseur and culinary consultant Sumitra Ganguli, the 10-day long Bengali food fest, which went underway on Friday last, perhaps can give you a peek into Bengali cuisine.

But what it cannot substitute is the feeling of bonhomie and belongingness, which you will miss when you are not eating it where it is best eaten - - among Bengalis and in Bengal.

"But I have tried my best to see that Hyderabad gets a taste of authentic Bengali food, at least. From the simplest of spices to ingredients, like fish, vegetables and spices, and even my chefs and helpers have been specially flown in from Bengal," says Sumitra.

SUMPTUOUS MOUTHFUL: More than just `bhat' and `maach.'

To make the ambience look more authentic girls in atypical Bengali lal parer shada shari greet guests as they enter the restaurant," she continues.

Don't miss the Calcutta Diaries, which concludes on November 17, for a taste of Bengal.


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