March 26, 2014

Restaurant Review- Smoke House Deli

Fine dining is not a new concept in Kolkata but what is new - is the establishment of the new branded food chains which have already crowned the fame in the gastronomic world. Thankfully the trend of Shopping Malls has not only opened the options of shopping after your heart under one roof with your desired brands but also to regain your lost energy with the quality food. Under one roof you can opt for a quality dining or just cheer around on a casual one. At the same time it is always good to see Kolkata embracing the different types of world cuisines which are already popular in abroad and also in the other metropolitan cities of India. Smoke House Deli is one which is famous for serving European cuisines recently opened in the 5th Floor of Quest Mall in Kolkata. 
Our Kolkata Food Bloggers' March Table meet has been decided at Smoke House Deli. Four Food Bloggers from the group landed up almost in time and reserve their sits in a comfortable place. A prior reservation is a must that was told to us mainly in the weekends. Therefore one from our group has been taken this charge to reserve table for us. The ambiance is pretty serene with the entire black and white Victorian style wall decor with a pristine sophistication. I always felt that whenever you visit to dine in a place the ambiance books a big part of your likeness/ unlikeness.  A mind-blowing decor of a restaurant may give you the feel instantly of a quality dining. No matter if the food is not up to the mark or how the the entire whole place promises to offer. But the overall satisfaction scores. Here the food and the ambiance both got the scores.
Promptly we were served water and the complementary bread basket with two dips which can be refilled at free of cost. We loved the way they were serving the water with a Jug filled with big sliced lemon and mint leaves. Having making ourselves pretty busy with the fresh breads we engaged our selves to flip through the Menu. Here are the following dishes that we have ordered for the afternoon and enjoyed thoroughly. 
Lemon Mint Ice Tea: Our fellow blogger ordered for it and she loves her tea with less sugar. So the tea was served with the separate sugar syrup in a small glass. Very impressive indeed. 
Baby fennel+Smoked chicken+Thyme soup (Rs 220/-):  I was really feeling for some warm soup. So we all decided to order for one and share the portion. The soup is thick and a bit bland in taste. But I loved the smoky flavour of the chicken pieces and the crunchy baby fennels. 
Peri Peri rubbed grilled chicken+Citrus Pimento (Rs 430/-) was served with potatoes and a side salad. The gravy on the top is quite salty and spicy. But I loved my bite with a piece of grilled chicken, a piece of potato and salad. The whole bite gave a balance in the taste and make it quite impressive.
Chilli crusted Bekti+Lemon+Thyme (Rs 590/-) was served with a bed of creamy rice and steamed vegetables. This dish was the house special one and the taste really won my heart.The crusty Betki was perfectly cooked and goes well along with the vegetables. The creamy rice was also very balanced in taste. The tinge on lemon flavour made it more dishy. 
House special Tenderloin steak (Rs 520/-) was served with mashed potato, vegetables and a brown gravy. I hardly tasted the dish. But found it very salty and not that impressive too. Though the mashed potato with the sour cream enriched the taste bud.
Spinach+Ricotta Ravioli (Rs 430/-) was the take of day and loved by all. The Raviolis were served in a delectable tomato based gravy which had perfect seasoning topped with an olive Tapenade. The Ravioli just melted in mouth leaving a flavourful taste of the spinach blended with the ricotta cheese. Next time I am surely going to try this again.
Bitter Chocolate+Orange Ganache Torte with ice cream (Rs 190/-) was the most disappointed part of the meal. It didn't reach our expectation at all. The dessert was presented well. But when we tasted we found it very sweet and the over loaded syrup had made it soggy and crumbly.
My over all experience is very nice. I would love to got back again with my family and friends. But I have three suggestions:
1. The Dishes on the menu should be explained a bit. i.e the Chili Crusted Betki was served on a bed of rice and steamed veggies. But it is not written on the menu along with the dish. A very small brief on the menu about the dishes gives the customers to understand better what they would like to order as there will be many who will try this kind of cuisine for the first time. 
2. Though I have tasted only one dessert, so didn't want to be more critical with my one experience. But it is a suggestion to take more care on the dessert part.
3. Many would not know that the bread basket can be refilled again. So the servers should keep an attention to the customers by asking if they any more or not.

For more photographs visit HERE..


Address:
Quest Mall, 33, Syed Ali Amir Avenue, Beckbagan, Ballygunge, Kolkata
Pocket Pinch for two: 1500/--2000/- (INR)


Read more reviews by my fellow bloggers:

[Disclaimer: The review is solely based on the author's honest experience . No monetary benefit is included]

A Journey with the Mediterranean Cuisine at Souk, Taj Bengal, Kolkata

"A Souk is a traditional Middle Eastern marketplace where Mediterranean cultures and cuisines have mingled for centuries. True to this history, Souk - the flagship restaurant of Taj in Mumbai - Now brings together the myriad flavours of the region to Kolkata, at Taj Bengal."


On our last meet it was decided with the PR Director of Taj Bengal to have an exclusive Kolkata Food Bloggers Table meet at one of their restaurants. And as promised it got organized. A charming  and vibrant Table got all set in no time at Souk which was famous for serving Mediterranean Cuisine on go. The special prize for the day was meeting Chef Sujan Mukherjee and the General Manager K Mohanchandran in person and sharing the depth of knowledge on Mediterranean cuisine. For me I have tried Mediterranean cuisine but can not vouch on the fact that I tired the most authentic one and I have a vast knowledge on the cuisine and its taste. Therefore this table meet has honestly opened the plethora of knowledge to make sure what the authentic cuisine really offers. From my last few experiences I always look forward to meet a chef in person to know their point of view on presenting a cuisine on a different region which is not only challenging but also need the skill to read the peoples mind and taste. As for Kolkata, it is a city which is famous for food lovers and love to welcome the world cuisine and to experiment with it. Though now a days the Street food's Lebanese offerings are much more famous and people  gobbles up the  dishes. But we are missing out the original flavour of the cuisine. Here at Souk, Taj Bengal we made an authentic culinary journey which was not only educative but helped us to open the vastness of the cuisine by the verities of dishes that was served to us, the stories behind all and original way of cooking it. 

Bringing home the flavours from Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Turkey, Souk presents truly a Mediterranean dining experience with minimalistic décor where one can relax and enjoy the food. With two private dining area (Chef's Studio & Casablanca) the place offers a lavish regular buffet spread for all as well as A la Carte menu too. A special A la Carte menu is been designed for the private dinners or if some comes up with a group which comprises of touching all the famous flavours to have an exclusive Mediterranean dining experience.  The menu keeps on changing to give the ultimate freshness to the customers and verity.  Souk is truly the Mecca for connoisseurs of fine dining who wish to discover - or rekindle - a passion for authentic hummus, felafil, mezzes, tagines, kebabs and pastilllas.
Amuse Buche - Watermelon with Feta Cheese and Mint

The Mezze Platter with Assorted Pita 
After tasting each dish it became clear that the spices here are having a very distinct flavour. We kept on tasting each dish and Chef kept on clearing all our doubts as well as kept on enriching our knowledge on Mediterranean cuisine too. we got to know that original Hummus always tastes better when the chickpeas are skinned and then pasted. Seasame seeds are grilled and pureed to produce Tahina which is the most important ingredient in the Hummus. The Hummus were offered here with a perfect blend of spices and I loved the creamy texture that melted in mouth. The Mezze platter is a significant offering on its own way. The tradition of Mezzes is very strong, as it is in the Mediterranean basins.  Loved the crispness of the Felafil - a spicy snack made from a puree of chickepeas, rolled n to small balls or shaped into patties and then fried in oil Traditionally it is eaten in Pitta Bread. The quality of meat in the Kibbe is worth mentionining. The meat comes from Jaipur to offer the quality lean meat. The grill platter just opened the original flavour of the Grill culture. It is an understanding that Mediterranean cuisine is simple yet at the same time sophisticated. The subtlety of Middle Eastern dishes is mainly due to the numerous spices and aromatic herbs which are used in their preparation. 
Mixed grills – Izgarlick Karides (Prawns from Egypt), Adana Kebab (lahm kebabs with bell peppers), Tavuk Yogurtulu Bitlis (chicken from Bitlis) and Samak meshwi (fish from Turkey) and Truffle Pilaf

Lahm Tagine (lamb with preserved lime, olives and chickpeas in tangy sauce with couscous)
Samak Moroccan (pan fried fish with pickled lemon, cayenne pepper, parsley and onion)

Pasta from the regular Menu

MOUSSAKA

Lahm Tagine, Samak Moroccan, the Pasta all were sumptuous and flatters with the aunthentic mediterranean flavours. Pasta dishes are very famous in the middle eastern cuisine. The one we tasted had a very disticnt flavour of the berries, olives and tomatoes. But what won my heart and was the start of the afternoon was the Moussaka. It is a baked dish which is very common in Turkey, Greece and the balkans. It is made with layers of aubergine (eggplant), meat sauce and often with a thick Bechamel Sauce. Here the addition of Zuccini and layeres of cheese made the perfect and delectable. I will go back again to have this dish again.

Omali, Rose Petal Ice Cream and Baklava  
I am not very fond of desserts. But loved the Chef's taste of making Baklava less sweeter than the original Baklava (Which tastes tad sweet). Loved the flavour of the Rose petal ice cream. In the Mediterranean Cuisines a incredibly wide range of flavours and sugar is always a fundamental ingredient. Mainly the flavours of  rose water and Orange flower water are much significant in the desserts.
Moroccan Mint Tea  at the end made the meal perfect.

KFBians & Chef Sujan Mukherjee


The overall Experience was wonderful.  Not only it was an afternoon where we got lucky to taste the Authentic Mediterranean Dishes but being a food blogger the knowledge which I had gathered from the Executive Master Chef and also from the honourable GM it was worth sharing. So if you love to experiment your taste bud and love Mediterranean food then Souk at Taj Bengal is a must visit place.

For more pictures click HERE.


March 25, 2014

Direct from Maharashtra: Sukha Chicken (Dry Chicken)

There are indeed some recipes that stored in our memory with some extending story lines that mainly bring back some cherished retention to enjoy forever. Whenever I cook this dish the story/memory, how the dish entered in a Bengali Kitchen and how I learned it, always make me a little girl again back to some 20-25 yrs back. Those were the days when in every vacation we used to visit Mumbai. My father works there. And my sister and I used to study in Visva-Bharati Santiniketan. So thrice in a year loaded with lot of fun and experimenting the regional foods on our way, a train journey from east to west used to be the most awaited moments for us. It was a summer vacation and we were about to set to Mount Abu from Mumbai to make our vacation more thrilling. We reached Mumbai and the plan was after relaxing for a week we would start our way to Mount Abu. My father had all the travel plans ready with all the prior booking et al. But suddenly my mom fell ill with a high fever. Doctor said it was a viral and sadly we had to cancel our trip. My mom did recover soon but she was very weak and lost all her appetite and the taste. My father's office was just a minute’s way from our house. And there they have their own canteen and he used to praise a lot about the Maharastrian food that it used to serve. One day my father went to office and returned back home within a couple of hours along with an aged lady in her 50s who is wearing a sari in the typical Maharastrian style. She was introduced to us as the main cook of my father’s Canteen who was going to cook a chicken dish specially for my Mom so that she could get back her appetite, taste et al. And at the same time my father asked us to bring our note books so that we could note down how she was cooking the dish and learn and then he left for his office again. I was always very much fond of cooking and learning new dishes right from my childhood. And this opportunity to have hands on experience in cooking made my joy new no bound. The session started. With swift hand Tai (The way she was called by my father) presented the dish on our table in no time. She taught us with her Marathi and broken Hindi language. We concentrated more on the visual part which for me was much easier than to follow her language. She left quietly with a happy heart. That was the day when we learned the traditional way to cook the Sukha Chicken and I still take the pride for it. That day we didn't linger a bit to take our bath but to present in no time at the dinner table. The Sukha Chicken's aroma kicked up our hunger prangs like the greedy giants. The colour of the dish was absolutely red, the real red that comes out of red chilli. When we taste it was deadly hot but super delicious. My sister and I had it all though with loads of water and sugar in the plate. But it was so tasty that we were not able to control ourselves. For my mother, we saw her for the first time after her illness enjoying food with a satisfaction spreading all over her face. She literally enjoyed the hotness of the dish and no doubt the taste too. Then onward frequently the dish started coming to our dining table from my dad's canteen. And when we returned back to Santiniketan, my mom cooked the dish on her own way by cutting down the hotness to the tolerable level for her children. Then I realised that the main taste actually lies in the hotness. Till date I cook the dish I use very less chilli in it. But When I visit to Mumbai, Sukha chicken was a must from the restaurants to try out.
I was very happy when Sarani declared the  Online Event in KFB -"East or West, Food is the Best". The first dish clicked in my memory was this one that I literally wanted to share with my readers. Its not for the recipe but the way it came to our kitchen from Maharashtra and became one of our favourite dishes. The dish is too tasty and takes very less time and energy to cook. So now not wasting much time let us move on to the recipe of Sukha Chicken.
Ingredients:
Chicken: 600-700 gm (Cut in to normal pieces) {See notes #3}
Curry Leaves - handful
Garlic - 3 + 3 cloves
Onion - 1 medium
Tomato - 1 large
Coconut - Grated from 1/2 of a coconut. (Many a times they use Dry roasted Coconut paste)
Coriander Leaves - 1 cup chopped
Oil - 1 tbsp + 2 tbspn
Mustered Seed: 1/2 tspn
Turmeric powder: 2 pinches
Water : 2-3 cups

The Roasted Masala/Spice:
Whole Cumin Seeds: 2 tbspn
Whole Coriander Seeds: 2 tbspn
Whole Red Chilli - 2/3 0r more (Pls check NOTE)

Method:
1. First make the Masala/Spice. Dry roast all the ingredients unde Masala/Spice and they grind/paste in smooth paste.
2. Take a pressure cooker. Add the chicken, the Masala Paste, chopped onion, chopped tomato, chopped garlic (out of three cloves), half of the curry leaves, 1 tbspn oil, Turmeric powder,Salt and water (make sure to add enough but not much water that  chicken should get dipped under water). Cook the chicken till the pressure cooker gives 4 to 5 whistles (See notes #3).
3. Paste the coconut in to smooth paste. Take a Kodai/ deep dense pan. Heat oil. Add Mustard seeds, Garlic paste (Out of the remaining cloves) and the curry leaves. Saute for a minute and then add the coconut paste. Fry them all together till the coconut starts to leave a fried aroma.
4. Now open the pressure cooker and add the chicken and the juice to the Kodai with coconut. Mix them well and cook until the dish gets a dry texture. Add the coriander leaves and serve with rice or roti.
Note:
1. The main taste lies in its hotness and also the look in its red colour. So if you are chilli lover then be liberal in adding the red chilies.
2. The dish will be absolutely dry. So when you will add the water in the pressure cooker be sure not to add much water in it.
New update dated 19th August'15:
 3. Make sure which kind of chicken you are buying. If it is a broiler one or buying fresh chicken from hyper markets it may require less time to cook say 2- 3 whistles will be fine.
(Thanks to reader Vidya Vartak Joshi for pointing out the cooking time options of the chicken).

This recipe is off to the Event by Kolkata Food Bloggers:
http://kolkatafoodbloggers.blogspot.in/2014/03/online-event-east-or-west-food-is-best.html


March 11, 2014

Chhana Posto (Cottage Cheese with Poppy Seeds)

If many famous Bengali dishes evolved around of the influences of various foreign cuisines that came and established for a while to invade India, at the same time the essence of true Bengali cuisine has not been lost in any circumstances. Till date the normal Bengali Kitchen flavours up with traditional cooking - the recipes descend from the Great Great Grandmothers to us. If the Bengali are famously identified as fish lovers, Bengali cuisine has an ample collection of vegetarian dishes too which specifically comprehend by the taste which are very simple and cooked with fewer ingredients/spices. Call it the PanNch Mishali or Shukto, or the Posto dishes, they are unique in taste and absolutely have the subtle sense of Classiness. Posto/ Poppy Seed is widely used in the western part of Bengal which one is now known as West Bengal. I would not go after the controversies of the cuisine styles of Ghoti (Bengalis of the West part) and the Bangals (Bengalis of the Eastern Part), but there are something very specifically divided these two parts and that also significantly can be seen through the cooking style. Today the dish I am sharing is a part of the Ghoti Cuisine. My In-Laws, though they have descended from East Bengal, but the cuisine style of my MIL is very much influenced by the West Bengal cuisine style. On the other hand I was grown up with the introduction of mostly the East Bengal style cooking. So after getting married I was introduced to this regional cooking of the west Bengal Kitchen. I learned this dish Chhana Posto (Cottage Cheese with Poppy Seeds) from my MIL and here I am sharing it. Very easy to cook and needs very fewer ingredients. Very healthy and  too tasty. So let’s move to recipe:
Ingredients:
Chhana/ Cottage Cheese: Out of 1/2 liter milk (I used lemon juice 3/4 of one lemon. Let the milk boil. Simmer the flame and add the juice. Let the milk curdle. Take it off the flame and strain the whey out of the Chhana/ Cottage Cheese )
Poppy seeds: 3 tspn
Onion: 1 small
Tomato: 1 small
Salt & Sugar as per taste
Oil- 1 tbsp
Ghee - a pinch
Method:
1. Thinly Slice the onion. Chop the Tomato. Paste the Poppy Seed.
2. Take a Kadai/Pan. Heat oil. Saute the onion till it turns brown. Add the tomato. Saute till it blends nicely with the onion. 
3. Add the Chhana/ Cottage Cheese, the Poppy Seed paste and the Salt & Sugar. Fry nicely till it gets absolutely dry and you can inhale a nice cooked aroma from it. Add a pinch of Ghee and serve hot with rice.

This recipe goes to the ongoing event Comfort Food of KFB conducted by Sayantani who blogs from A Homemaker's Diary:



Book Review: The Temple of Avinasi by Ayush Pathak

"Where is the 'History' in those History books?" According to his opinion they should better call the subject 'Present'.  And if the humnas are so stubborn on calling it History, the at least call it ' The Present- History' or the ' Present-Human-History-with-all-the-essential-details-kept-out', but definitely not the 'History'.
           The Temple of Avinasi by Ayush Pathak (P:19, line: 1-5)

The Story Line:

"A heroic tale timed in modern age -- a battle of existence between evil and the good, bred on the ashes of the four thousand year old legendry Epic Wars. The Immortal Protectors of the Temple are finding it hard to maintain control over a new rising evil power, far greater in magnitude than the previous war. 

The Shield that protects Earth from external attacks had stopped the invading Dark Seekers, also called Nishachars -- a fled group from some distant dying planet -- for long. Until four thousand years ago when the shield was ruptured, and the entire mortal world turned on the edge of demolition. It was then the immortal protectors, the Light Seekers, more commonly known as Devs, along with the remaining army of mortals fought and drove back the combined army of Nishachars and Asurs, and restored the shield -- but at a great price. The Nishachars retreated, and since then they have grown and redoubled their army several times, waiting for their prophesized Dark Lord to rise. The Devs, on the other hand, knowing that they wont be able to stop the Great Dark Lord, if risen -- formed a secret brotherhood named The Temple of Avinasi and scattered themselves throughout the world. Their only feeble hope lies in an ancient legend named Kalki, the last prophesized Avatar of Vishnu And unaware of all this, two fourteen year old boys are presently spending their time merrily together in the mortal world, innocently oblivious to the fact, that how much changed their destinies are from what it seems, and how much the worlds fate is dependent on them…"

Ayush Pathak being an Electrical Engineer from BIET Jhansi made the impossible, possible. On the other hand he achieved the motto of his life- A life which begins with a dream, ends with success.” Being attached to the myths and Saga’s of our culture from his childhood and having a root deep in the Epics, writing this fiction he did the justice to himself. When I received the mail for the writer and have gone through the synopsis, I got hooked to the storyline on spot. After receiving the book I started reading it but after reading 3/4 pages I understood this was not the kind of book that could be devoured within a day or two but to go slow and needs a thorough study for better understanding. By genre it can be defined as an Epic fantasy or a mythological fiction, which can be easily understood by reading the synopsis itself. The whole story was presented with a blend of the myths and modernism, a  Saga of a battle between Good and Evil.

The novel itself started in the modern era but led to the distant past where Sri was anxiously awaiting "Brihaspati".  Throughout the novel I found the marriage between the modern era and the mythological aspects. Ayush himself told how the story idea came to his mind: “What if the main conclusive battle is to take place in our present time the 21st Century?” The introduction of Sri, Yeti, Nishachars, Devs, Ana, Angels, and they got portrayed and developed with the story are worth mentioning. Ayush in such a young age made a history in the world of Indian English Literature by creating an epic mythological modern story. The concept of the book is clear from the beginning to end, though I would love to read more about Angel and Ana's love story. The best part of the book was its language. Ayush has kept the language simple and avoided the usages of bombastic words for better understanding. And only because of it the book itself offered a very easy read and a more concentration on the story. Ayush himself presented us a highly intellectual philosophical observation that a mind can continuously process while after finishing the book. He has presented the truth of the world the war between the Evil and Good. He has focused on Love the eternal bonding of life and the search for survive. The Temple of Avinashi is Ayush's first novel and with the very first beginning he has created a history. The next sequel of the novel will be following soon. Hope like the first one we will like the next one too. 

March 1, 2014

Herbed Chicken Tikka

Kolkata Food Bloggers has geared up with the March events. The very first event of the month is called "Kashmir to Kanyakumari". All the bloggers are pretty excited and busy in their kitchens to come with something special regional dishes from North India to South India. For me the month has started with a very busy note. I am semi-shifting to my new house, where we have the plan to spend our vacation and some quality time on and off. So that needs a minimum setup to consider it as the habitat. Last few days ran off with some crazy whole day shopping what made us happy and at the same tired too. I have taken leave from my work for few days to enjoy and relax some special time in setting up the home after our mind. Hope to come up soon with snaps of my new home. Right now let me share my contribution for the event that I have come up considering this busy schedule - a pretty easy one which takes almost no time to shred your energy . I have made Chicken Tikka picking it up from the North Indian Cuisines. I have given a twist to our regular Chicken Tikkas to make taste a bit different. I have baked it but for best result if you have a charcoal griller then go for it. I bet  it would taste 2 times better than the baked/grilled one. Following are some detail I am sharing about Chicken Tikka from Wikipedia:
"Chicken tikka (Hindi: मुर्ग़ टिक्का Urdu: مرغ تکہ ‎; [ˌmʊrɣ ˈʈɪkkaː]) is a chicken dish originating in the Indian Subcontintent where it remains popular in both Pakistan and India. It is traditionally small pieces of boneless chicken baked using skewers in a clay-based oven called a tandoor after marinating inspices and yogurt - essentially a boneless version of tandoori chicken.[1] The word tikka means "bits" or "pieces". It is also a chicken dish served inPunjabi cuisine. The Punjabi version of the dish, however, is grilled over red-hot coals, and does not always contain boneless pieces. The pieces are brushed with ghee (clarified butter) at intervals to increase its flavour, while being continuously fanned. It is typically eaten with green coriander andtamarind chutney served with onion rings and lemon, or used in preparing a chicken tikka masala."(Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tikka)
Ingredients:
For Maronation:
Boneless Chicken (Cubed) - 300gm
Curd- 2 tbspn
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 & 1/2 tbspn (Heaped)
Onion Juice - out of one large
Mixed Herb (Dry) - 2 tspns (crushed)
Red Chili Powder- 1/2 tspn (One can add more or less, depends on the hot quotient)
Salt as per taste
Mustard Oil- 1 tspn
****
Tomato (Diced)- 1 medium
Onion (Diced) - 1 small
White oil- 1 tspn
Salt and sugar as per taste
White Pepper- A pinch
Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients under marination and marinade for at list 5-6 hours. For best result keep it over night.
2. Pre-heat the oven at 200 Degree C for 6-7 minutes.
3. Place the chicken cubes on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes (10+10 both sides).
4. Heat oil on a pan. Add the diced onion and and the seasonings for a couple of minutes or so. Add the tomatoes fry for few seconds and then take it off from the fame.
5. Take Skewers. Prick the Chicken Tikka's along with the onion and tomatoes.
6. Grill for 5 -10 minutes on high and serve hot with salad or your desired dips.

http://kolkatafoodbloggers.blogspot.in/2014/02/kashmir-to-kanyakumari-online-event.html