Friday, 14 July 2006

Flavour of Kolkatta [Restaurant Review]

Flavour of Kolkata seems to be in some sort of identity crisis. Under the parent brand, it squeezes in Chowringhee, for Bengali food, Shahi Darbar (Mughlai), Tangra (Chinese), Southern Avenue (South Indian) and Aadda (Cal street food).
But, we learn, it is a food court in a mall, so I ignore my allergy to multi-cuisine food vendors—all the food is suspect, we think—and on the grounds that (a) it would be the most genuine, (b) I’m partial to fish and nuts about mishti, (c) the Anglo-Indian blood has to show up somewhere and (c) my parents honeymooned in Cal, we plumped for the Chowringhee menu.
It’s a bit of the beaten track. Correction. Make that bang on the beaten, rutted lunar landscape of a track that passes for a road between Vashi and Turbhe. The trucks that keep the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Market stocked are not kind to the asphalt. So getting here can be a bit of a spondylitis-inducer.
It had been pouring non-stop for a few days, and it was late at night on a weekday, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. A quick telecon with our Bong food oracle later, we ordered a mutton chop (Rs80) and a Chicken Kabiragee (Rs85) as starters.
The chop (which I would have called a cutlet) was a bit too mirchified for my taste buds, but one is assured that this is the real thing. The chicken was pure cholesterol—a large chunk of chicken in a lacy eggligĂ©, and oily—and heavy, and could well have been in the main course section.
Yes. The main course. Pabda Sorse (Rs165), fish cooked in mustard had, to my palate, way too much mustard. The “butter fish” was soft and delicate, but completely overwhelmed by its flavouring. Our big indulgence, the Crab Jhol (Rs500), was we concluded, overpriced but good. A large crab that required much wrist action with that thing you use to break crab shells up when you’re trying to be dignified. Better by far to abandon pretense and eat with both hands, no? My personal favourite: the Daab Chingri (Rs205), prawns in a coconut milk gravy, cooked and served in the tender coconut shell; succulent prawns, just a hint of sweetness in the gravy. I almost forgot. Our token veg dish was a first time experience for me: banana flowers, or Mochaar Ghanto (Rs105) was very nice indeed. Desert had to be Mishti Doi (Rs45) of course. I can never get enough of the stuff.
Overall, the food is worth the visit, and the ambience adds to the experience. The staff (Bengali to a man we were told) are extremely helpful with menu choices, and attentive. Bengali songs played softly through our meal. They also offer a membership scheme: fill out a form, and you get a card which entitles you to discounts on subsequent visits.

~ Peter Griffin

Chowringhee, in Flavour of Kolkata food court, City Mall, B-1016 (on the road to Turbhe, past the APMC), Sector 19, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400703. Ph: 2783 2773 / 2738, 8716. tr& Make a reservation on the weekend. You should get a table without a problem at any other time.

Published in Time Out, Mumbai, 14th July edition.


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