Food spot Metroplus

An evening in Chitpur

A dish offered at the Royal

A dish offered at the Royal   | Photo Credit: 02dmc Rahul2

Here are the rezala and burrah tales from Kolkata

You can take a man out of the Walled City, but you can’t take the Walled City out of him. That’s what I said to myself – about myself – in Kolkata last week. The city buzzed with life because it was Ramzan, and people were out in the streets in the evenings. My Kolkata friends love the Muslim food of their city, and I greatly enjoy the Calcutta biryani, cooked with potatoes, and their chaap and rezala, which is not quite the same anywhere else. But I wanted to try out the haleem of Kolkata, which my Bong friends swore by. The Hyderabadi haleem, they insisted, did not come anywhere near the Bengali version.

Let me say right here and now that I never got to eat it. As you would know, there are as many schools of thought about food as there are people, and no one in my small group of friends that evening could agree on where one got the best haleem. So the haleem plan was dropped.

There was unanimity on one issue – that the mutton chaap in Royal, a veritable institution in the city, was the best you could ever get. And what was great was that Chitpur’s Royal – formally known as Royal Indian Restaurant, though I am sure no one calls it by that name – had opened a branch in Park Circus.

So Friday, we landed up at the new Royal. Of course, it was splitting at the seams, and it was after a lot of persuasion (or it could have been my disarming smile) that we managed to find a table for five. Then there was bad news – they had run out of mutton chaap, chicken liver and mutton tikkia (some kind of a flat fried kabab). Our helpful server rushed and saved the last few dishes for us – chicken chaap, mutton pasanda, mutton burrah kababs and mutton biryani.

Should we have the rezala or another plate of burrah, we asked him. Have the burrah, he advised us. My friend thought for a bit, and said she would rather have the rezala. Sorry, we have run out of the rezala, the waiter replied. That’s what I love about Kolkata!

Let me tell you what I liked the most – the chicken chaap (Rs.155), even though it was chicken, not one of my favourite meats. What made it so special was the masala that it had been marinated in. The gravy was thick and tasted really good, while the chicken itself was tender, and had soaked in all the aromas of the spices. Next on the list was the biryani (Rs.270), which is different from other Calcutta biryanis because it comes without the mandatory potatoes. The rice had been lightly spiced, and the two mutton pieces were nicely juicy. There were three small minced meat golis, which I loved. Next was the pasanda (Rs.190), flattened strips of lamb, which were well spiced and good to eat. The burra kabab (Rs.190 for three) was, alas, a bit too tough. The last time my friends were there, the meat literally fell off the bone, they said.

What didn’t work for me at all was the phirni (Rs 40), which was a bit too thick, a little too dry and much too sweet. I like the grainy texture of phirnis, but this was smooth, almost like custard.

But it was a superb evening, and I enjoyed the food as much as I liked seeing hordes of hungry Calcuttans stream in and out. It reminded me of iftaar in the Walled City back home.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 9:09:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/An-evening-in-Chitpur/article14465389.ece

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