Authentic Italian cuisine will now sit cheek-by-jowl with Mediterranean dishes at Mezze, the standalone Mediterranean restaurant on Sarat Bose Road. Executive chef Palash Sarkar is giving the Mezze menu a makeover and introducing a generous portion of Continental and Italian dishes for his guests. And for Calcuttans who love continental cuisine, the chef has loaded his menu with some old favourite dishes like Chicken Tetrazini. He also recommends pastas, lamb shank and apple pie.
Sarkar graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Taratala, Calcutta, and subsequently did stints with the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, Hotel Hindusthan International and The New Kenilworth Hotel in Calcutta. My cousin was a chef with the Oberoi Group. Hes been my inspiration since childhood, he says, who believes that Italian cuisine is his forté.
He returned to Calcutta to join Mezze as executive chef in 2006 and has been with the restaurant since it opened its doors. Sarkar changes the menu every six months and is now contemplating introducing a takeaway section at Mezze.
He shares his favourite recipes with us.
Grilled Vegetable Terriene
Ingredients 5gm eggplant, sliced 5gm shitake mushroom, thinly sliced 5gm zucchini, sliced 5gm carrots, sliced 200gm tomatoes 5gm red capsicum, sliced 5gm green capsicum, sliced 30ml Balsamic vinaigrette 1gm basil leaves 15gm garlic 3gm parsley 2gm salt 2gm pepper 20ml olive oil 3gm gelatin 5gm onions, chopped 10gm butter 10gm brown sugar 15ml white wine
Method Marinate the thinly sliced vegetables in olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and grill. Dissolve the gelatin in water and set aside. Make tomato coulis by blanching and putting them in ice-cold water. Mix the diluted gelatin with the tomato coulis. Remove the skin , de-seed and chop half the tomatoes and purée the rest. Heat olive oil and put the chopped onions along with the chopped tomatoes and sauté. Add the tomato purée and the grilled vegetables. Sprinkle juliennes of basil leaves on top.
For Balsamic reduction: Heat butter. Add some brown sugar. Put some white wine and Balsamic vinaigrette. Wait till its thickens and serve with the terriene.
Lamb Shank Ossobocco with creamy polenta
Ingredients: For the lamb: 230gm lamb shank 20gm garlic 50gm celery 25gm olive oil 50gm onion Rosemary, a few sprigs 45ml red wine 2gm bay leaves 5gm peppercorn 100gm carrot 25gm tomato paste
For the creamy polenta: 30gm polenta (Agnesi) 10gm onion 15ml white wine 25ml cream 10gm Parmesan cheese 15gm butter 5gm parsley, chopped 150ml milk cinnamon powder, a pinch
For the gremolata or garnish Juice of 1 lemon 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Method Marinate the lamb shank overnight in olive oil and some of the garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorn and red wine. Sear the shank the next day. Mix the rest of the chopped carrots, celery, garlic, onion and tomato paste together with olive oil and red wine. Put the shank along with this mixture in the oven till it is tender. Sprinkle rosemary before serving.
For the polenta: Sauté the onion with butter and add milk. Wait till the milk boils. Add the polenta, cook till its soft. Finish with white wine, Parmesan cheese, cream, parsley and cinnamon powder. Arrange the shank on top of the polenta. Add the gremolata on top.
Ingredients 20gm whipped rich cream ½ tsp coffee powder Yolk of half an egg ½ gm gelatin 10gm sugar 5ml Kahlua liquor
Method Whip the rich cream and make it fluffy. Add coffee powder, sugar and Kahlua. Mix gelatin with the egg yolk separately and gradually mix. Pour the mixture into a glass and refrigerate for half-an-hour. Decorate with icing of sugar powder and coffee powder.
As told to Promita Mukherjee; Photographs by Rashbehari Das