The anadromous hilsa fish, much loved without a bone of contention by Bengalis world over, migrate to rivers during the monsoons to spawn more of their kind. It’s also during this time of the year that they’re most freshly netted and feted in Kolkata’s fish markets. Reason enough for Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre to host a Bengali food fest till this Sunday (10 Aug, 2014).
Right from the kulos (rice sifters) on the walls and auspicious earthen hand painted kalash (pots) and tender coconuts as centrepieces on every table, to lively Bengali music, The Square is replete with the sights, sounds and aromas of Bengal.
Senior Sous Chef Saurav Choudhuri, along with visiting chefs Biplop and Arnab from Novotel Kolkata have put together an enviable dinner buffet that has almost every dish a Bengali craves of from back home.
The items on the menu differ every day so you never know when you’ll get lucky and get to sample a mochar chop (banana blossom cutlets), kosha mangsho (mutton curry), thor chorchori (banana stem stir fry), shukto (mixed vegetables with a tempering of randhuni spice, poppy seeds and coconut), the famous Kolkata chicken rolls, Goriahat Bedouin-style aloo chokha rolls, or the catch of the day – chital maach, puti maach, papda shorshe, bhetki paturi, chingri malai curry or even a pui shaak diye ilish macher matha. All fish is freshly sourced from Kolkata, which makes them as authentic as it can get.
My favourites were the intoxicating dim posto (poppy seeds with mashed eggs) with steaming plain rice and the absolutely divine bhapa Ilish (steamed hilsa). It was so delicately flavoured with mustard paste, and steamed to perfection that the bones could be easily picked out even with a spoon and fork.
Saving the best for the last is the dessert spread. No Bengali meal is complete without the eponymous Mishti Doi (sweet yoghurt). Chef Choudhuri has his combination of mishti doi figured out to a keen art and science, and the result is a delicious indulgence. There’s also Gobindo bhog paish and chanar paish among others.
Every item on the menu was gratifying and scrumptious. Or as Bengalis would say ‘Apoorbo’!