June 26, 2014

Gala Brunch spread at Durbari, Swissotel, Kolkata

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”
Ah!!! It’s not exactly the same thing happened with me last Sunday and yes there was something very special waited for me us to pair my our breakfast and lunch together. I know you got me. I am talking about Brunch - the concept that is recently evolving in Kolkata. The European concept of brunch has been ceremoniously offered to Kolkata by Swissotel first at their CafĂ© Swiss restaurant. Then they moved a step ahead to give it an Indian touch by designing a Sunday Brunch Menu to their famous Indian speciality restaurant Durbari. Kolkata Food Bloggers were exclusively invited to sample the re- launch of the Durbari Sunday Brunch Menu on last Sunday. My soul always does happy dances and taps its feet when it comes to Swissotel. Yes, I love visiting the place (with Friends/Fellow Bloggers & Family) for its elegance and the quality food they serve. Did I mention about their courteous hospitality which makes you feel like home!! This time visiting Durbari was not new for me, but what was new, was the delectable brunch spread on offer.
Durbari itself is famous for offering the North Indian speciality food where you will get the Kashmiri influences as well as the Awadhi. Recently keeping in mind about the Bengali culture and food, Durbari offers some famous Bengali dishes like: Malaikari, Shorshe Machh, Kosha Mangsho. It made us more surprised when Ashish (Restaurant Manager) informed that Durbari is the only one restaurant in Kolkata which serves the famous PANTA BHAT. And the icing on the cake is the Chef’s own touch that incorporates some brilliant fusion dishes to serve. For example picking some from the Brunch menu: Naaza (Na of Naan & Za of Pizza), it's a fusion of Naan and Pizza. The chef deftly made an indianized Pizza, making the base out of  Khameeri roti and topped it with Murgh Tikka, amul cheese and some colourful bell peppers. A smoky flavor steaming out of it would give one a taste of heaven. Or take Murgh Balai Kabab. The name itself  made us all curious what could be the meaning of Balai. On asking Chef Aditya casually shared “Malai kabab tha, to maine iska naam Balai kabab rakh diya” (there is already Malai Kabab, so I kept it Balai Kabab). And  yea you guessed right we all almost rolled over the floor. And this Murgh Balai Kabab was a stuffed chicken breast with onions and
pomegranate. Taste wise I was not able to do much justice to it. Ok let me talk about the menu later on. Coming to the characteristic of the Brunch menu- it is not constant but keeps on changing every week. That means every week there will be uniqueness on the menu and a new taste to lure. Soon after we reached Durbaari, we were greeted by Enakshi Kundu (assistant marketing and communication manager) and Aashish Shaw (restaurant manager) and made us comfortably sit in their private dining area. The culinary journey started then – clicking, tasting, gathering information, giggling on intervals and all we shutter bugs kept on playing the music of our shutters to freeze the beauty of each food in our cameras.
Now let us peep in the Brunch Spread: 
The special starters will be served on the table. One will get more starter options on the buffet counter too: i.e.Zafrani Paneer Tikka, Dalcha Kebab (Veg) and Achari Tikka, Sarson Mahi Tikka (Non-Veg ).
Dahi Ke Kabab
 This starter was served first. The speciality of this starter is, it is always served cold. Hung curd with some spices got coated with semolina and then got fried was divine. It will tickle one's taste bud with a kind of not so tangy but too tasty paired with the aroma of the fried spices.The perfectly shaped and fried patty could be easily grab for a second serving.
Naaza..I have already talked about it. One of the star dishes for which one can go back again and again.
Murgh Balai Kabab
Gondhoraj Mahi Tikka
Now this one was the star of the day. Tender pieces of  Bhetki Fish delicately marinated with Gondhoraj lime and Kaffir lime, grilled and served to us to so the justice to it.and no need to say each bite made to say only YAM, nothing else.The balanced flavour totally camouflaged the Fishy smell for which Bhetki is famous for. 
The main course/ Buffet Spread
Sarson Mahi Tikka

Achari Tikka
Palak Paneer 
Methi Murgh
2.      The sumptuous  buffet spread will lure you with almost 15 -16 dishes to devour. Starting right from the Soups/Shorbas, Salads, Starters, Main Course and Desserts were all on offer. The main course comprises of  Dal Durbari, Palak paneer, Diwani Handi and Aloo Dhaniawala from the Vegetarian section. Ajwaini Fish Curry and Methi Murgh were from the Non Veg section. Green Peas Pulao was there to compliment the side dishes. I enjoyed thoroughly each of bite of all the dishes. But to be specified Dal Durbari was out of the world. Mainly when we were served the famous Swiss Cheese Naan, both conjugated like made for each other in heaven. Off the Brunch menu Murgh Makhni Andaz and Kumbh Do pyaza were also served to sample the taste. Again they won my heart.
The dessert counter had a mixture of Indian traditional sweets and pastries along with fresh fruits. Mango Rasmalai, Mihidana and Rabdi were enjoyed unanimously by my fellow bloggers. For me I was so full I had console my appetite with bite size Tiramisu. 
The overall food experience was out of the world and when you have host like Swiss team who would take the utmost care to make you comfortable with their cordial politeness. And don't miss the price on offer. Yes it is just 1000/- plus tax (yes you hear me right!!!!) for the Brunch which is available only on Sunday. 

Durbaari is opened from Tuesday to Sunday between 1900 hrs to 2300 hrs,the restaurant is open for lunch from 12:30 hrs to 15:00 hrs on weekends as well. Mondays are closed.

June 25, 2014

The taste of Royal cuisine with Chef Imtiaz Qureshi at ITC Sonar, Kolkata

 My impatient soul was feeling like tapping the table to settle down the heart beat and let the rhythm soothe the soul till the exact moment jingles. Being a food addict from my childhood the Chefs are like the Food Gods to me. As much I read about them, I watch them on TV, I get so much inspired to follow their footsteps and to create some magic in my kitchen. And when one gets an opportunity to meet some iconic figure whom you have just thought to meet in your dreams, does life want anything more!!! An invitation to the Kolkata Food Bloggers from ITC Sonar to meet the legendary Chef Imtiaz Qureshi and witness his magical culinary journey with his creations made a dream come true.  I have heard so much about him. The iconic grand master who can transform a veg kabab to taste like a meat, who has magic in his hand, the king of Dum Pukht cuisine and a legend that carries all the anecdotes right from the Mughals' Royal darbar to the recent days. He cooks and weaves stories with each of his creations...He creates royal dishes and spiced it up with the royal lore. 

Then he entered in the double breasted chef's suit, neatly combed silvery lines streaming down with ignorable curls. A heart melting smile was continuously peeping from the masculine aged mustache and a fashionably done beard. He was joined shortly by Chef Zuber Qureshi  and the moment stopped there and took us back to the Nawab’s darbaari kitchen from where his journey with the Dum Pukht cuisine started. In his chaste
Luckhnawi urdu he continued that 'Dum' means 'to breathe in' and 'Pukht' means 'to cook'. The main Dum Pukht cuisine defines as cooking a dish in a clean kitchen where in a deep bottom vessel the dish will be cooked while choking all the steam inside and its own aroma will spice up the whole taste. He kept on picking up each dish from the menu and went on explaining how it got cooked with the anecdotes behind each dish. One such anecdote: “In Arab there was once no water. So people survived only on Dates. And from there I got the idea to use date in my dishes. I used dates in Raan-e-huzoor which nobody can think.”   He also explained that people has become more prone towards healthy and nutritious food;so keeping in mind the modern scenario all the dishes were cooked with very less oil and ghee. And we all became surprised to hear that the Biriyani was cooked with Olive oil. When it comes to meat, there are almost 50 types of different kind of cuts for each meat dish and at the same time the taste depends on choosing the fresh soft meat. We also came to know the sectect about the melt in mouth meat flesh is nothing but slow cooking for at least 7-8 long hours. The food went on filling our plates and the legendary father like man in his 80s kept on moving table to table asking about the dishes and did we figure out what ingredients he had used. He also added that Usage of Sea food is very rare in Mughlai cuisine but he has added since keeping in mind the choices of the present taste buds.

Soon after we were joined by the whiskey connoisseur Mr Sandeep Arora who educated us that whiskey could be very well get paired with food. He talked about the famous brand of scotch whiskey Royal Salute 21YO which is 21 years old. He called it ‘Royal Challenge’ as it is a marriage between royal cuisine and royal whiskey.

Let us now have some glimpses on royal dishes crafted in the menu:

My take of the day were- Raan-e-huzoor, Jhinga Qureshi, Dudhiya Biryani and Desi murgh ishtew.
Raan- e- huzoor: Baby Lamb Legs cooked on the dum with a thick Date sauce, embellished with walnut and almonds.
Jhinga Qureshi: Named after the legnedary Chef it is a puff pastry covered Jumbo Prawn, stuffed with dried apricot and cheese.

Samundari Ratan: Soft Marbles of fresh crabmeat, simmered in a delicate fenugreek flavoured gravy. 
Koh- E- Avadh: Chef's recipe of qorma of elegantly exposed lamb shanks, dum cooked in their own cardamom tinged juices and marrow, finished with saffron
Desi Murgh ishtew is also served under this head. This ishtew is totally difffernt what we ussually make at home. Country chicken braised over slow burning fire, with onions, black pepper, yoghurt and other spices.
Dal Badami was served too..

Naan-e Bah Khummach, Mugtha Paratha and Roomali Roti was served to relish with the qormas.

Dudhiya Biryani: tender lamb morsels, cooked on Dun with Aromatic Basmati rice. To enhance the taste and to keep it healthy Milk and Olive oil are used.
Sahi Tukda (a dessert of saffrom rabri, spread on a slice of syrup soaked homemade bread) and Lab-e Mashooq (Frozen dessert of reduced milk scented with orange)
And last but not the least the Sahi Paan was served to draw an ending line to the royal treat.
Apart from all the Non-veg dishes a royal Veg spread is also available on the menu.

The Signature Collection can be enjoyed at the Eden Pavilion from 22nd June to 30th June as a part of the dinner buffet (7.30-11.45 pm) at INR 1850 plus taxes.

And a set menu of five courses paired with Roysl Salute, one can go for Royal Repast at Dum Pukht that is only available for dinner from 22nd June onwards at the price of INR 6500 plus tax.
For more photographs please visit HERE.

June 19, 2014

Mango Haat at ITC Sonar,Kolkata

“In keep with ITC Hotels philosophy of being ‘rooted to the soil’, we celebrate the unique diversity of flavours through which Murshidabad mangoes delight connoisseurs of the fruit. This is in keeping with our commitment to sustainability and Responsible Luxury.” – Atul Bhalla (General Manager, ITC Sonar)

Have you heard of Bimli, which carries a classic legend direct from the enchanting history from the Nawabs’ era. During the rule of Mir Jafar, a maid called Bimli worked hard in the leisure garden of the Nawab. While being pleased with her work the Nawab named a new verity of mango that was being cultivating in his garden “Bimli’. Yes Bimli is the name of one of the sweetest and fleshy Mangoes that Murshidabad takes the pride of cultivating it.  Or what about Kohitoor the most legendary Nawabi Mango from Hakim Aga Mohammadi Bagh which would only pluck by hands and would be kept wrapped in cotton wool to keep it fresh. After every 12 hours, the mango has to change its position to ripe uniformly and should be cut with a sharp bamboo wedge but not by a knife. 

Bhavani, Bira, Anaras, Kalapahar Saranga, Molamjam, Ranipasand so and so forth- what do you think they are!!!!They are nothing but all the name of the varieties of Mangoes that leave the trail of the legends of the Nawab’s era again. Moorshidabad, not Murshidabad then used be the Heart of Bengal, the torch bearer of the Indian culture and architecture – The Nawab’s land of luxury.  In the pages of History Murshidabad It was the place where once 200 varieties of mangoes grown alone in the orchards of Murshidabad.

To start with - Thanks to Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS), iLEAD and ITC Sonar whose joint effort presented ‘Mango Haat’ to introduce the exquisite verities of mangoes where many got extinct but still there are many to bear the pride of the heritage land Murshidabad through the trail of history, the land once famous for its highly nurtured exotic mangoes. Being a part of Kolkata Food Bloggers the invitation to experience the journey with the legendary Mangoes from Murshidabad along with the history was a stupendous experience that last Sunday evening gifted us.

Along with the varieties of Mangoes on display a delectable high tea table enriched the taste buds of the guests. All the delicacies very creatively and sumptuously presented and the common ingredient of all was nothing but Mango. Even it really won the heart to see Sushi made out of Mango. The event became more interesting when Mr. Pradip Chopra the president of Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MDHS)and the Chairman of iLEAD, enlightened our knowledge with a short documentary mainly based on
the  book – Mangoes From Murshidabad”, written by him.  It not only travelled us several years back to get the glimpses of how Mango used to get cultivated but also introduced to the Sheherwali cusines like Aam ka launi, Aam Chana ka Kutti, Kachhe aam ka kheer etc and there famous mango cutting techniques. If we literally define ‘Sheherwali ’, it means ‘City (sheher)’ dwellers. History says that the Jain Community who settled down in Murshidabad (Jiaganj, Azimgang) was called Sheherwali. Most of them came from Rajasthan with a connection of some business purpose and then settled down here. Apart from their delicious cuisine the most captivating part was their mango cutting technique. It is like a ceremony that has to go through five phases to get the perfect slices of the fleshy mango pieces without having wasting the juice or any finger prints on the flesh.

#The Mangoes has to be soaked in water for 4-5 hours and washed carefully.
#Then the skin has to be cut with two kinds of techniques.u
#Again the mango has to be washed.
#Then the pieces should be cut with utmost care.
#And then serve carefully.
The event was very encouraging to see the effort to bring back one of the glories of the Heritage place like Murshidabad and exhibiting the exquisite collection of mangoes that is not only a rare experience but also an eye opener to take the pride of the treasures that Bengal own.
(All the sources of information was found from the book: Mangoes From Murshidabad, Compiled & Designed by Pradip Chopra and Team iLead)