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From amar Sonar Bangla

TUCKED AWAY in the bustling, traditional heartland of Malleswaram is Sonar Bangla, the baby of 24-year-old entrepreneur, Shubhojit Chatterjee. Sonar Bangla or Golden Bengal for all ye uninitiated out there is a spanking new restaurant serving some very fine Bengali and North Indian cuisine.

Shades of blue and black dominate the interiors and one cannot miss the figurine of Goddess Kali placed reverentially above the billing counter. I strode inside in anticipation of the mellifluous strains of Rabindra Sangeet and the pungent aroma of fish being cooked in mustard oil, only to be very graciously ushered in by Shubojit and his lovely mother at the entrance.

No Rabindra Sangeet in this Sonar Bangla; instead a popular Hindi tune was playing. No alcohol or non-vegetarian food is served here and neither is smoking permitted. A staunch follower of the Krishna Consciousness Movement, the young owner believes in it too.

The restaurant undertakes orders of authentic Bengali food for gourmets who fancy a whole meal and also delivers it at the doorstep. Fish is considered sacred in the coastal state and is consumed universally. So, all fish lovers can take heart as the non-vegetarian cuisine is delivered, but not served at the restaurant.

Authentic Bengali fare, sans fish though — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

"We have consciously avoided South Indian food in our menu," quips Shubhojit, about the cuisine. So, if you are on your way to work, and you want more than idli and dosa, then this cheery restaurant is the right stopover. Savour the delectable puri-sabzi, served with hot jalebis, a combination that you would find only on the streets of Kolkata. And this combination of a main course with a sweetmeat, that epitomizes the traditional Bengali breakfast, is priced reasonably at Rs. 30. Or have your pick from the sandwich platter priced at an affordable Rs. 15. The menu changes every day, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

"We have included one Bengali dish in every meal," beamed the proud mother as I tucked into the dhoka dalna, the Bengali version of the kofta made of channa dal. One can opt for a combined menu for lunch and dinner or simply go a la carte. The combined menu at Rs. 100 offers one starter, a choice of paratha or kulcha, and a main course with dessert. Snacks are served between 4.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.. For those who demand value for money, there is also the thali option of lunch and dinner at Rs. 30. The thali is a good idea if you are ravenous.

With a degree in hotel management from France, Shubojit spent six months at the Windsor Manor, Bangalore, which is where he was motivated to start on his own. "I believe that variety is the spice of life, and we want to give our clientele the opportunity to try out something different each time," he explained. That's why a different menu each day.

He worked with Hotel Climat de France, and Hotel Vatel, among others while in France. And when I commented on the lack of anything French in the menu, he admitted he was keen on serving it to the discerning Bangloreans soon. "For starters, I want to serve dishes cooked in table wine, and in time, depending on the response, I will introduce newer dishes."

Sonar Bangla is at 88/1, Shubh Arcade, 1st floor, 16th Cross, Margosa Road, Malleswaram. Phone: 3367622


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