Tuck into Bengali food from across the border this Puja. Cafe The at 9A Ho Chi Minh Sarani (ICCR) brings a delightful take on familiar Bengali dishes with the Bangladeshi food festival ‘From The Kitchen of the Nawab of Dhaka’. On Tuesday, t2 got a preview of the spread, with designer Agnimitra Paul and Bangladeshi food critic Shaukat Osman for company.
|Food critic Shaukat Osman and designer Agnimitra Paul at Cafe The.
Picture by Pabitra Das
The meal took off with the delicious Dhakai Paneer Fry and Bakarkhani. While paneer fry sounds simple enough, what makes it special is the variety of cheese used. Tart and salty, aged cheese made in Ashtogram in Dhaka is coated in flour and fried in butter to make this delicious starter. Have it with the crumbly Bangladeshi biscuit called Bakarkhani.
The other peculiarity of Dhakai cuisine comes next — that of “turning nearly everything into a bharta”. We’ve all heard of a Begun Bharta, but try a Sheem (beans) Bharta to know why the Bengalis across the border love it so.
Next up is a lightly fried Moong Dal Bhuna Khichuri traditionally had with Egg Korma. Yummy khichudi, boiled eggs in a delicious light and sweet korma gravy — it’s comfort food at its best. The Ilish Pulao is another novelty. Bangladeshi chef Md. Babul Hossain, who’s carried kilos of “Padma’r Ilish” for the festival, says: “The pulao is cooked in hilsa stock and hilsa tel. The stock is made by simmering the fish head and tail in water for hours.”
The real treat though is the Mutton Saatkara. The saatkara is a kind of lime with a very thick rind. The pulp is thrown away and big, spongy chunks of the rind are left in the curry.
Wrap it up with Haater Shemai or hand-made semolina pudding. Bits of flour dough are hand-rolled and cut into rice-like grains that are then dried. When it’s cooked like a traditional rice pudding, it results in the same old shemai payesh but with a different texture.
On till October 23, a meal for two will cost about Rs 650 (plus taxes).