We’ve heard a lot about Bengali cuisine, their love for fish, alur dum and luchi. But to experience it first hand by the chef at Aaheli, the first restaurant to serve Bengali cuisine in Kolkata was truly something else. The wafting aroma of each and every dish, the flavours, and the rustic feel refuses to leave us long after trying it out. If you love this cuisine or if you simply haven’t tried it yet then you must take a trip to Jamavar at The Leela Mumbai for the Bengali Food Festival ongoing till the 10th of January.
Our Experience With Bengali Food
To start off our meal we were served with aperitif, Aam Porar Sarbot which is quintessentially an aam panna. But the flavours here were elevated with the ground roasted cumin and pomegranate seeds. It was a perfect palate cleanser before starting the dinner. What we sipped on throughout the meal was the Sugandhi Lebur Sarbot. This nimbu sherbet was made with the gondhoraj lebu, a variety of lemon native to Bengal and so full of citrusy flavour. This was a refreshing drink and neither of these should be missed.
For our vegetarian appetizers we tried the Mochar Chop which is a banana blossom croquette, Piyaz Postor Bora, a patty made with poppy seeds, onion and green chilli and Chanar Patisapta which is chenna stuffed pancake. For the meaty appetizers we relished the Chatakdari Jolpori which are deep fried prawns spiced with Bengali spices and Tawa Pomfret. All the appetizers were gems in their own right. The croquette was flavourful, the onion patty was spicy and crispy all at the same time. We thoroughly enjoyed the fish and the prawns as well and relished each snack with their homemade kasundi (mustard chutney). You’d think we’d be stuffed by this point but these dishes only made us eager for the mains.
Let’s The Feast Begin
Here’s the thing we found out about Bengali cuisine while enjoying the mains brought in by chefs of Aaheli – the people here sure love their spices, especially mustard as well as cooking in mustard oil and most importantly ghee. The love for these reflected in the food and all the dishes were unique. We also enjoyed the fact that bread and pulao were being served piping hot, doused in ghee to us. And not just any ghee, it was made in Bengal and it was truly a delight. Especially when the Sonali Moong Dal was topped richly with it. The pulao was Suravi Pulao and had dry fruits, green peas, cauliflower along with ghee. We thoroughly enjoyed this dal and rice combo eating with our hands and mopping it all up – ghee and all the daal.
Now, let’s not dim the light of the brilliant sabzis and meaty preparations of the evening. Starting with the sabzis first we had the Piyaj Aloo Posto, Kalyani Begun, Potoler Dorma and Bhapa Chanar Utshab with luchi and paratha. The posto was a simple and rustic preparation and tasted quite homely. The brinjals were soaked in a sensational mustard gravy and we loved this the most. Dorma was made with paneer stuffed in wax gourd prepared in a coconut gravy. This was rich, the dorma having the texture of chenna was quite soft and this too melted our heart. The last dish, Bhapa Chanar Utshab was nothing but paneer dumplings in a saffron gravy. The flavours were on point and we mopped this up with the paratha.
Turning our meat monster mode on we tried the Kasha Mangsho, Swadey Khasha Murgi and Bati Chingri. The Mangsho is a special mutton dish which is not made on an everyday basis. This was a sheer delight what with the lamb cooked to perfection in a robust gravy. The chicken was spiced quite well and was over in no time. If you’re having this then either have it with hot luchi or the rice. The Bati Chingri or the prawn cooked in onion, chilli and mustard gravy was also delight to eat. We paired it with the peas kochuri for some reason and it just went very well with it.
Yes, now we were stuffed but dared to try the mouth-watering desserts – Misti Doi, Gur er Rajbhog and Monolobha Malpua. We tried them all but the one to be mopped up was the misti doi. It went down easily after a massive dinner and allowed us to reach out for the Bengali Paan which brought our heavenly dinner to an end. Many thanks to The Leela Mumbai for letting us have this experience and the chefs at Aaheli for doing a stupendous job. And as for you readers, this is a must try food fest and we hope you do indulge in some of their delicious food offerings.