March 26, 2014

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 d├ęcor 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


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.

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