Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bengali Food Festival @ Cubbon Pavilion, ITC Gardenia

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Not often does a hotel host a Bengali food festival; I ask why? It's a cuisine rich in history and tradition with flavors being diverse right from subtle to fiery. Essentially a culmination of 5 spices (called 'Panchphoron') - mustard, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, aniseed and black  cumin seeds the food was as authentic and homely as it can get.

Like every other festival at Cubbon Pavilion, the Indian section has been converted to offer just Bengali delicacies. However, unlike any other festival at Cubbon Pavilion, I did not even see the need to glance at any other segment or cuisine on the buffet. Such was the richness and diversity this cuisine brought to the table.

Common knowledge is that Fish, Maach  as it is called in Bengali is widely consumed in Bengali cuisine with prawns, chicken and mutton following close. I knew I'd be in for a treat even before I headed for dinner that evening. Knowing me, my Bengali friend was quite assertive and authoritative said to me, "Don't just focus on the non-vegetarian food, there's a world of vegetarian that's not to be missed."

I followed every word he mentioned and am really glad that I did. Dinner that evening was like experiencing two worlds - vegetarian and non-vegetarian all on a plate. Without much ado, I'll head straight to what I ate and enjoyed the most.

'Beguni', 'Mutton cutlets' and 'Tilapia Bajja' were served as starters. Aptly, the tilapia bajja and mutton cutlet came served with onion slivers and lime on the side. Off the two, I absolutely loved the tilapia bajja which was mildly coated with freshly pounded jeera masala and fried. Cooked perfectly, the fish though deep fried was moist, flaky and tender on the inside. The flavors of the masala was mild and did not interfere in the experience of enjoying the fish itself.

Mutton cutlets were really mild in flavor but nothing to rave about. Personally, I found the mutton filling to be scarce while potato mash took prominence. Beguni was as simple Bengali food can get - Bengal gram flour battered eggplant. It was simple and a nice way to begin the evening.

The experience only kept getting better through the evening. In mains, I followed the instructions of the chef and stuck to her food pairing recommendation. Here, it was not food pairing with wine or whisky but was what food dish to be paired with another food dish for the best experience.

My first round of mains began with the pairing of fresh, hot and fluffy luchi with 'Alur Dum' and 'Misthi Doi' on the side. I went ahead and also helped myself with a 'Rosgulla' as well out of temptation. 'Alur Dum' was whole baby potatoes floating in a thick and spicy gravy perfect for the hot luchi. A perfect finish to sooth the palate was the combination of fresh Misthi doi on side.

The next round in mains comprised of the 'Kosha Mangsho pulao' and 'Murgi Jhol'. Murgi jhol as the name suggests was a thin curry with chicken and baby potatoes in it. Subtle yet well present flavors was a highlight of this dish. The mutton pulao was well balanced in flavor and the meat was tender and complimented well in enhancing the flavor of the pulao.

What I looked forward to was this next round. Steamed rice soaked with the nice and light 'Maacher Jhol' and accompanied by semi dry prawns, banana stack in curry and a semi dry aloo pawral vegetable. Eating all of this on one plate was nothing short of a feast and probably for the first time I had so many vegetarian preparations on my plate. Absolutely loved the experience and as I ate, it only felt like any experience a non-bengali might have when visiting a Bengali household as a guest.

I was wishing for the festival to be extended beyond the planned schedule but I know for sure, it's going to make a come back in the near-term. I will look forward to it so that I can visit again for a wonderful Bengali food experience and also to update you so we can share the same experience.

Address: No. 1, Residency Road, Bengaluru - 560025
Phone Number: +91 80 2211 9898

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