Sunday, September 6, 2009

SWEET BENGAL

While i have been following THE TIMES OF INDIA-KOLKATA EDITION's "Madly Mishti" campaign to vote for the "Best Sweet Shop in Kolkata" for different sweetmeats, it evoked nostalgic feelings in me, and my love for sweetmeats over different sweetshops across the city started gaining momentum. Sitting thousand kilometres away from Bengal-Border, my sweet-tooth has got enough reasons to feel upbeat about Sweet Bengal.

Bengal, perhaps is the only state in India to have this distinction, where every town/regions are renowed for their distinguished sweetmeat. Be it "Mowa" of Joynagar, "Sitabhog and Mihidana" of Burdwan, "Langcha" of Shaktigarh, "Jolbhora Sandesh" of Chandannagore, "Lal Doi" of Nabadwip, "Aamer Morobba" of Siuri(Birbhum) or "Shorbhaja and Shorpuria" of Krishnanagar, you will fall in love instantly.

Be it the the softness of "Rossogolla" or the thick trickle of the "Mishti Doi", the very-sweety "Mixed Fruit Chutneys" or the myriad "Sandesh", Bengalis love sinking their teeth in sweet-delicacies, and never mind the calories.

No account of Bangaliana(bengali food culture) is complete without Bangalir Roshobodh(sweet indulgence of bengalis). In Bengali families, every meal comes full-circle only after a good dessert of either mishti doi or with the varieties of sweet chutneys. There are some sweet-dish that are home-made and cannot be found in sweet-shops.

Payesh: this creamy rice-pudding, delicately flavoured with cardamom and pistachio, has a religious standing. It is offered to God/Goddess in pujas and also religiously made during annaprassans (a bengali ceremony for the first feeding of cooked rice to a newborn when six months old) and birthdays. Nowadays, Payesh is been made with different varieties, including gurer payesh (made with jaggery/gur), kesar payesh (made with saffron).

Pithe: made from rice/wheat flour, mixed with sugar, jaggery(gur), khoa(dried whole milk) & coconut in various forms, the most common are paaka pithe(fried), bhapa pithe(steamed), puli pithe(dumplings), chandrapuli, mohanpuli, gokul pithe, chitai pithe & dudhpuli. These sweet dishes are made as a part of the crop-festival celebration on the last day of the bengali-hindu month of "Poush".

Chutney: this sweet-dish is a must-have after lunch. There are many varities to choose from, the popular are Plastic Chutney (made from papaya), Tomato-r Chutney (made from tomatoes), Khejur-Aamshottor Chutney (made from date and dried-mango-pulp), Aamer Chutney (made from both riped & unriped mango), Anarasher Chutney (made from pineapples)

There are also some sweets which has interesting history.. like LEDIKENI- it is said that the wife of Lord Canning (then governal-general of british india, 1856-1862), Lady Cannie had the habit of throwing lavish parties. A few days before her birthday, Lord Canning's men visited the best confectioners of Calcutta and ordered a special sweet to be made in her honour. They wanted an unique sweet in shape-and-size that would outclass them in taste too. It took days for the confectioner to come up with a variety stuffed with saffron & elaichi(cardamom) & fried in ghee(clarified butter) to attain a rich brown colour. It was partially like a pantua & partially like a langcha but very different in taste from them. It was so much appreciated by Lady Canning, that the sweet was named "Ledikeni".

So, lets take you all through the sweet lanes of Kolkata... This is a list high on nostalgia...

some popular bengali sweets best available at kolkata sweet marts::--
ROSSOGOLLA:
this sweet needs no introduction. Its Bengal's gift to the world.
K.C.Das- esplanade
Ganguram & Sons- vivekananda road
Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar- shyambazar
Nobin Chandra Das- baghbazar

MISHTI DOI:
misthi doi or sweetened curd is made from caramelized sugar. You think of Bengal, and you think of mishti doi. It now has some popular variants like bhapa doi(steamed yoghurt), lal doi (sweetened yoghurt red in colour), aam doi(alphanso mango yoghurt), Tulsi Doi(mishti doi containing extracts of tulsi herb)
Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick- padmapukur
Amrita- bidhan sarani
Suresh Mistanna Bhandar- dhakuria
Santosh Sweets- mg road & college street xing

SANDESH:
This most-favorite Bengali sweet is made from ground fresh cottage cheese(chhena), and has a hundred varieties. some popular are aabar khabo, indrani, korapak, norompak, jolbhora, bhapa, kanchagolla, kalakand, kheerkadam, kheersagar
Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Nandi- ramdulal sarkar street
Hindusthan Sweets- jadavpur central road
Bheem Nag- nirmal chandra street
Mithai- syed amir ali avenue

ROSHER MISHTI:
now, this category includes those bengali sweets which are made of condensed milk. Its hugely popular outside bengal too. some best examples of rosher mishti are lord chomchom, malai toast, rosomalai, chhanar payesh, raabri, pantua among others.
Sen Mahasay- fariapukur
Tewari Brothers- new alipore
Bancharam- gariahat road
Mouchak- golpark

Kolkata's Best Sweet Shops with their Best Sweet Dishes ::

PUTIRAM SWEETS: 46/4 Mahatma Gandhi Road
Rajbhog.. Patishapta.. Chop Sandesh.. Biscuit Sandesh

BHEEM NAG: 5 Nirmal Chandra Street, Bowbazar [estd.1826]
this age-old sweet shop is behind the success of "ledikeni" and patronised "sandesh" too.. this shop also boasts of customers like Rani Rashmoni, Raja Ram Mohan Roy...
Ledikeni.. Kadapak Sandesh.. Kheerer Chop.. Victoria Sandesh.. Paradise Sandesh.. Chittaranjan..

DWARIKA'S: 126A Bidhan Sarani [estd.1885]
founded by dwariknath ghosh in 1885, its an institution for sweetmeats in kolkata
Danadar.. Tripti.. Keshar Sandesh.. Dilkhush.. Rosmadhuri.. Amrit Raabri..

GIRISH CHANDRA DEY & NAKUR NANDI: 56 Ramdulal Sarkar Street [estd.1844]
the last word in "sandesh" for the discerning calcuttans.. non-invitees at Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai Wedding really missed out this legendary sweetshop's offerings...
Aabar Khabo.. Jol Bhora Talsansh.. Babu Sandesh.. Kasturi Sandesh.. Icecream Sandesh.. Mousumi(sandesh stuffed with nuts & coconut).. Parijat(mix of pista, nuts & kheer).. Chocolate Sandesh.. Strawberry Sandesh.. Sourabhmoy(chhena with sugar globules & pista).. Madhuja Sandesh.. Mohini Sandesh.. Rosecream Sandesh..

GANGURAM'S: 41 B.B.Ganguly Street
Lal Doi.. Raabri.. Amriti.. Indrani..

GANGURAM & SONS: 159C Vivekananda Road, Girish Park
Mishti Doi.. Sitabhog.. Mihidana..

SHARMA SWEETS: 3B Kali Krishna Tagore Street
Raabri.. Malai Chomchom..

SEN MAHASAY: 1/1C Shibdas Bhaduri Street, Shyambazar
Darbesh.. Mihidanar Laddoo.. Ratabi Sandesh.. Pink Peda(Rose flavoured).. Aporupa(made from chocolate, saffron & pista).. Jayanti(made from pista, saffron, strawberry, chhena and kaju-elaichi stuffing)...

MITHAI: Syed Amir Ali Avenue, Beckbagan Row
Notun Gurer Sandesh.. Kanchagolla.. Kamalphool Sandesh.. Kesar Sandesh..

BANCHARAM: 19 Gariahat Road
Pantua.. Rosomalai.. Mishti Doi.. Amriti.. Jibe-Goja..

GANGAUR SWEETS: 2 Russell Street
Jalebi.. Chitrakoot.. Badam Chandrapooli..

BALARAM MULLICK & RADHARAMAN MULLICK:75G Padmapukur Road [estd.1885]
Aam Doi.. Baked Rossogolla.. Kajur Sandesh.. Notun Gurer Rossogolla.. Makha Sandesh..
Chhanar Payesh..

GOPAL CHANDRA HALDER: 2 Bright Street, Mayfair Road
Raabri.. Manohara.. Khirsagar..

MUKHERJEE SWEETS: 29/1B Ballygunge Place
Shorbhaja.. Shorpuria..

NABA KRISHNA GUIN: 9B Nirmal Chandra Street [estd.1814]
Shankuntala Sandesh.. Chhanar Murki.. Chandan Kheer.. Ramboondi..

K.C.DAS: 11A-B Esplanade
Rossogolla.. Amrit Kalash.. Chhanar Payesh.. Mohanbhog.. Rosomalancha.. Malai Chomchom..
Rosochandrarambha(unique concoction made from coconut & green bananas)..

JADAV CHANDRA DAS: 127A Rashbehari Avenue [estd.1858]
famous for its White Mishti Doi..

NABIN CHANDRA DAS : 77 Jatindra Mohan Avenue
the inventor of Rossogolla and famed Jolbhora Sandesh

JALAJOG: Rashbehari Avenue, Lake Market
inventor of Lal Doi and Payodhi.. it is said Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore named their sweet "payodhi"..

HINDUSTAN SWEETS: 58/1 Jadavpur Central Road
Sandesh.. Rosomalai.. Malai Sandwich..

MOUCHAK: 19/1 Gariahat Road, Dhakuria
Gorom Rossogolla(hot rasgullas).. Komlabhog..

SHOILO SWEETS: Near Lake Town Market
famous for Langcha.. Milk Cake Sandesh..

GHAGEN GHOSH: Manicktala Crossing
Shorbhaja.. Rosoraaj.. Kheer Kadam.. Labangalatika..

SANTOSH SWEETS: M.G.Road & College Street Xing
Chhanar Polao.. Mishti Doi..

NANDALAL GHOSH & SONS: Sukiya Street, opp.Shrimani Market
Kalakand.. Cake Sandesh.. Lord chomchom..

TEWARI BROTHERS: 3A Jagmohan Mullick Lane, Burrabazar
Jalebi.. Chhanar Jilipi.. Kalo Jam..

MAHAPRABHU MISTANNA BHANDAAR: 5 Ramani Chatterjee Road
Nikuti.. Kheerkadam.. Atta Sandesh..

CHITTARANJAN MISTANNA BHANDAAR: 34 Shyampukur Street
introducer of "Sponge Rossogolla"....

SRI HARI MISTANNA BHANDAAR: SP Mukherjee Road, Bhawanipore
this shop too serves excellent "Langcha" and "Goja"...

RASONA: Ballygunge Station Road
thsi shop turns out varieties of Pithe/Pitha.. Paaka Pithe(fried).. Bhapa Pithe(steamed).. Chandrapuli..
Gokul Pithe.. Chitai Pithe.. Paatishapta.. Kheerpuli.. Ranga Aloor Pithe..

NOTE: North-Kolkata Sweets are the best in India... and to believe me, all you have to do is to loose your wallet at different sweet shops of north kolkata and thank me each time you savour those delicacies...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Delhi Diary: Having Butter Chicken in Delhi !!!


[Text by Uttiya Das and Photo by Google]

Butter Chicken is to Delhi what Chicken Chaap is to Kolkata. The Delhiwallas love to relish on their Butter Chicken. The dish, incidently, has a brief interesting history. Motimahal Restaurant (Daryaganj-Delhi) is said to have invented Butter Chicken in somewhere '70s, where the kitchen staffs dunked the left-over Tandoori Chicken in a rich buttery saucy gravy.

The dish was first introduced to me by my mother for a delicious dinner as a part of her effort to make me stinct to Rotis (even till now, i'm nt a roti person, i prefer eating it only with nice tasty delicious non-veg side dish.. otherwise i stuck to my rice) in my childhood days. So, i had this nice memory of Butter Chicken being cooked at home, where the dressed chicken (boneless or with bone) is marinated in yoghurt(dahi) and spice mixture, usually, garam masala, ginger(adrak), garlic paste(lasoon), lemon or lime, pepper(golmirch), cumin(jeera), turmeric(haldi), chilli(lalmirch) for 2-3 hours. Then the marinated chicken is cooked in a sauce made by mixing butter, tomato puree, spices including cumin(jeera), cloves(laung), cinnamon(dalchini), pepper(golmirch) & green-chili paste. After being cooked, the dish is garnished with butter, fresh cream & crushed fenugreek(methi) leaves.

In Kolkata, i am used-to the Butter chicken at Bar-B-Q (park street), Amber (waterloo street) and Azad Hind Dhaba (ballygunge circular road). They are all delicious and very nicely cooked. Even the Butter Chicken at Sher-E-Punjab on Kolaghat Highway was a hit.

So, it became even more important to me to look out for other restaurants who cook good Butter Chicken in Delhi. The Butter Chicken of Motimahal and Royal (Connaught Place) is still sticked to my tongue, but here i am craving for more. During my 2005-whole-year Delhi-tenure, i never explored beyond Motimahal, Royal. Though, Kake Da Hotel in Connaught Place was once a must-visit for butter chicken, its gradually loosing out its reputation. National's (Connaught Place) butter chicken was though a good discovery. And it was on a post-diwali 2007 rainy-evening, that i made a round of calls and ended up learning about Gulati Restaurant, which my friend accidently discovered, served good-butter-chicken. We have been there before but neved ordered butter chicken. So, on a sunny sunday afternoon, we decided to give it a try.

And by 2pm, we are outside Gulati- Pandara Road. The place is a quite good-one to hang-out with friends. We were indulged in look-around at different tables and the interior, that we were surprised with its quick-delivery. Burra Kebab, Butter Chicken & Rotis ordered are on table and we are hungry enough to feast ourself quickly. The Burra Kebab was a regret, but the Butter Chicken was pretty good enough. The wonderfully cooked rich and creamy gravy was a treat for my stomach.

The butter chicken of Royal and National will be a close contender of Gulati's. The dish there is less oily & rich than Gulati's. While, Motimahal is still the best restaurant for butter chicken. But, West & South Delhiites can relish on their butter chicken at Gulati's 'coz its convenient for them.

But please count your calories while having Butter Chicken at Gulati. It wasn't a discovery 'coz the place was known to most of west-delhiites. But still one more addition to the growing list of good Butter Chicken eateries in Delhi. And, for that, you can always go back to Royal, National, Motimahal while in and around Connaught Place to have your favorite butter chicken. And i am thankfully to myself that a part of Delhi is still alive in me, The Calcuttawallah.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Calcutta Nostalgia: Park Street


[Text by Uttiya Das and Photos by Google]


When The City Of Calcutta is uttered, "Park Street" is automatically on the lips. You cant think of Calcutta without Park Street. The street derives its name from a deer park of Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Calcutta, 1773-1789, that was located on this street. Take away Park Street and you take away the charm of Calcutta City.

The street starts at the western-end of "the breathing grounds of Calcutta"-Maidan (literally open field in english) runs to Park Circus (a commercial district) in the eastern-end. Park Street remains Calcutta's foremost fine-dining district with notable restaurants, pubs and bars such as Trinca's, Blue Fox, Kwality, Oasis, Bar-B-Q, Waldorf, Olympia, Moulin Rouge, Peter Cat, Mocambo, Marco Polo, Floriana, Flury's, Some Place Else, Aqua and many more. Its all about good-pubbing, fine-dining and exotic-nightlife.

The street also has landmarks in form of Asiatic Society, Adventist Church and also Music World & Oxford Bookstore.

I have grown up with Park Street and also have fond memories spend there with friends and family. The weekend family-dinners during my childhood-days are still afresh.
When i was young, the evenings were mostly spread with latest-film-shows at Globe or New Empire theater and a evening-stroll at park street with Kusum's double egg-chicken roll/ muton cutlets at hand. And a quick bite of ham-cheese omlette and pastries of Flury's. Then a weekend participation at line for complete family-dinner either at Peter Cat or Mocambo or Moulin Rouge or Bar-B-Q.

It changed when i was in my teens. Almost every evening-schedule contained watching movies at Inox-Forum with friends, then straight-away to dear-Flury's or KFC or Barista and have a good-"adda"-session over sizzlers, doughnuts, pastries and coffees. We used to settle ourself at the table by the window and watch life go by on Park Street. It was so wonderful to watch little-kids & couples walking by with their rolls/chops/cutlets/burgers.

Even when a lonely, Park Street never bored me. A quick check-out at "Music World" collections and evenfully listening new-songs on stock, then, a visit to "Oxford Cha-Bar" to occupy myself with a good-book and my favorite blueberry bliss tea/ decaf spiced green tea/ dargeeling gold tea/ organic korakunda tea. A good-read and a good-cup of tea made my evenings there.

Park Street was so much a part of my Calcutta-life. After a day's schooling, we used to walk down to kalimpong confectioners to feast on their wonderful cream rolls (i didn't bothered to visit Nahoum's in New Market for their famous cakes and cream rolls, as the job was left to my Father to bring home those) even under a scorching-calcutta-sun.

And when it's Park Street, you can not just forget the Christmas Celebrations. The christmas celebration in Park Street is perhaps unparallal and unmatched to any other indian city. As Christmas is lovingly called as "Boro Din" in Bengali and is much-celebrated among bengali families too along with the christian & anglo-indian community of the city, the entire park street is decked up with fairy-lights on christmas-eve. As the star-hotels, restaurants, pubs and bakeries alongside the street arrange their fairy lights, the coffee-table-bookstores decorate themselves with christmas-balls & christmas-trees. They all gear up for discounts and christmas parties. The christmas celebrations on park street is as nostalgic as the fireworks during newyear.

Every evening of Park Street live up to the city's nickname "The City Of Joy". I wish i could be a part of it more often.

No amount of Colaba Causeway and Connaught Place can inculcate the joy and happiness associated with Park Street evenings & nightouts. The enigma and the essence surrounding Park Street still bring out the madness in me.

I miss my Calcutta, i miss my Park Street....


Park Street Christmas Celebrations
Flurry's
Oxford Bookstore & Cha-Bar
A Casual Evening at Park Street


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Calcutta Nostalgia: Shubho Nabobarsho

The Bengali New Year's Day generally falls on 14th or 15th of April according to the English Calender Year. It's the "Poila Baisakh" (The 1st month of a Hindu Calender Year) of Bengali New Year.

The Bengali New Year Day starts with late-morning wake up-a little later than usual- to the Special New Year Supplement of Bengali & English Newspapers, namely, "Ananda Bazar Patrika", "Bartamaan", "Aajkal", "Pratidin", "The Telegraph", "The Statesman", "The Times Of India", "Hindustan Times", "The Indian Express", "The Hindu", "The Calcutta Chronicle" with Dudh-Cha (Milk-Tea) & Creamcracker/ Marie Biscuit.

....A leisurely read is followed by an even-leisurely breakfast
Breakfast is well-spread of Luchi/Radhaballavi ("puri" in hindi made with maida, hing & stuffings) and Alur-Dum with Payesh (a cold-dessert prepared with milk, rice/ vermicelli, gur, almond & pistachio). The Breakfast is followed by a quick-look at the ingredients of the Lunch-Menu, and a check-out of Sweets (Rossogolla, Sandesh are a must) stocked in Refridgerator at every hour till Lunch.

Then telephonic-wishing round of "Shubho Nabobarsho" to friends & relatives across the globe and also tell them about the lunch-menu. After that, getting ready with a new set of Payjama & Punjabi ("punjabi" is a bengali-kurta usually embroidered with elaborate motifs) for "Adda"-Sessions.

Time For Lunch
The Lunch is as elaborate as-ghee bhaat (rice with ghee), shukto (bengali style mixed-vegetable with an emphasis on bitterness), dal-maachher matha diye (moong-dal cooked with fish-heads), begun bhaja (cubes of brinjal fried with ricedust), potoler dorma (parwals stuffed with paneer cooked in dry-gravy of coconut & mustard sauce), bagda/golda chingri malaicurry (tiger/jumbo prawns cooked with coconut-milk), elish/bhetki/koi/pabda/chitol/parshe/topshe maachher jhaal (types of fishes in masala-curry)- and the dessert is loaded with plastic chutney/ anaras chutney/ khejur-aamsattar chutney (sweet dish extracts of mango/pineapple) and mishti-doi (sweet curd).

The Lunch is punctuated with political discussions, literary criticism & other topics strictly requiring raised-voices and passionate points-of-view !!

Eve-Out
The Evening sees a walk around the locality, a taste of chaats/phuchhkas and a halt at a para-function where somebody would inevitably be singing: "jibone ki pabona, bhulechi shey bhabna, saamne jaa dekhi janina sheki, ashol ki nokol shona" or "purano shei diner kotha, bhulbi kire haay o, shei chokher dekha praner kotha, sheki bhola jaay". Then another round of Rolls/Cutlets & a good "adda"-session there itself.

And if you are a Calcuttan Bengali, then its time for Dinner....
No-matter where you are through-out the evening, its a must to be at Park Street/China Town by 9pm & participate in the line to get through your-choice of restaurant. The Gastronomical Newyear's Day should end with Peter Cat's chelo kebab, Waldorf's mandarin-fish, Blue Fox's lobster thermidot, Skyroom's mixed-grill with baked-alaska, Mocambo's chicken supreme & crab meat cocktail, Floriana's spicy hunan chicken.

As you come back home and turn-in for the night, you have a hope that is all well with the world. And if isn't, it will turn out just fine.