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On course with ilish!

PRAMEET NARULA CHOUDHARY
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Eating out Park Plaza, Gurgaon, is hosting a Bengali food festival

The fare at Park Plaza
The fare at Park Plaza

At yet another Bengali food festival, I recently discovered the intricacies that define Bengali cuisine, how much attention is paid to the use of spices and the freshness of ingredients. Bengali cuisine, akin to the French cuisine, is apparently the first in Indian subcontinent to serve its food, course-wise – five courses to be precise! And the elaborate food preparation and serving traditions of Bengal explain why Bengalis are such lovers of food and take pride in their cuisine.

Park Plaza in Gurgaon is hosting a Bengali food festival till 5th of May, offering flavours of East India through an intriguing and elaborate menu.

The arrangement is impressive – a sari-clad-bindi sporting attendant greeted me upon entering the coffee shop while some light Bengali music played to set the theme in motion. While walking up to the main seating area, a large buffet spread caught the eye, which was accentuated with a traditional ‘taant’ sari and fresh whole spices used as colourful decorative. What probably missed out on the appetising journey was a traditional terracotta thaali laced with a banana leaf, as eating in chinaware with cutlery is not the Bengali way of eating right!

The afternoon started with a small chitchat with Bengali chef, who explained that the most important of all spices in a Bengali fare is the ‘radhuni’ (wild celery seeds) which has a prominent aroma and strong flavour, and which is only exclusively found in Bengal.

Starting with aam panna, followed by aaloo chop for starters, it seemed that authentic Bengali food had been fused with North Indian cooking style; meanwhile the main course had an interesting vegetable combination of aaloo posto bhaja, channer kofta curry, the phulkopari dalna (cauliflower cooked Bengali style) and the chana dal cooked with coconut; served along with the revered luchi and ghee bhat. A particular variety of ‘gobindbhog’ rice is used while making rice delicacies, where the rice is first boiled al-dante and then tempered with seasonings and ghee to create a full flavour.

The bhappa ilish is chef’s recommendation for the non-vegetarians. Ilish fish migrates upstream in a river to breed and its varied salt content at different stages of the journey is of particular interest to the connoisseur. Other than fish, the Calcutta mutton biryani, the chingri malai and the Murshibadi murgi jhol are all time favourite delicacies. Bringing an end to the much elaborate lunch were desserts, created from various methods of handling milk. I enjoyed the Misti doi the most.

Meal for two: Rs. 2198 plus taxes.

PRAMEET NARULA CHOUDHARY

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