The Telegraph
Saturday , June 16 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Risotto with Melon and Lemon

In the mood to mix it up? What about Baked Hilsa with Mango Hollandaise Sauce, or maybe Spaghetti Carbonara with Litchi? Yes, you read that right. Welcome to Fruitonomics, a food festival that presents fruits in every course of the meal. The festival at Mythh in Hotel Hindusthan International, on till June 24, brings a sumptuous host of dishes prepared with around 15 summer fruits, ranging from mangoes and grapes to kiwis.

“People are losing their appetite in this heat. Fruits add to the nutrition and water content in the body while also having a cooling effect. Keeping that in mind, we tried to create a menu that incorporates fruits in every dish,” says Utpal Mondal, corporate chef, HHI. So how did the chef decide which fruit goes best with which dish? “It has taken us around six months of experimentation. The mixing has been done in a way that the flavours complement each other, while retaining the originality of each dish,” smiles chef Mondal.

The menu looks appetising. To start with, there are cold soups like the Cucumber and Coconut Milk Bisque, which comes chilled and flavoured with lemongrass. Starters like the Anarasi Murg Tikka (chicken tikka with pineapple) are quite a hit. For the carbs, dig into Risotto with Melon and Lemon or Spaghetti Carbonara with Litchi (with the juice and chunks of the fruit). Vegetarians can also go for Kiwi Paneer Angare (paneer chunks marinated in kiwi juice) and Marinated Cottage Cheese baked with Alphonso mango and Gruyere cheese sauce.

The crowning glory is the Mango Tiramisu, the creamy Italian dessert given a fruity twist. Drop in for lunch (11am to 3pm) or dinner (7.30pm to 11pm). Prices begin at Rs 285 (plus taxes) per dish.

Whisky connoisseur Sandeep Arora and Taj Bengal general manager K. Mohanchandran unveil The Macallan 1990; (right) the board outside Souk that said it all! Pictures by Rashbehari Das

Just 252 bottles, crafted and bottled in Scotland from a singular cask. Of that, 24 are available in Calcutta. Welcome the newest member in Taj Bengal’s kitchen — The Taj Hotels Signature Private Reserve, The Macallan 1990 — unveiled on Thursday on the fourth birthday of the hotel’s Eastern Mediterranean address, Souk.

“The hunt began in May last year and it took us six months to track down this particular cask in Scotland. It is a rare lot created bespoke for Taj. The good part is that when even the hotel finishes its collection, they cannot have more!” said whisky connoisseur Sandeep Arora, as he unveiled the cask with K. Mohanchandran, the general manager of the star hotel in Alipore.

Priced at Rs 55,000 (gulp!), The Macallan 1990 is available at the hotel for guests who wouldn’t mind digging deep for a rare sip of the 21-year-old golden dram.

“We also have a 360-degree experience of the whisky. When you come to this hotel, we will tell you what to pair the single malt with, right from the water and the glassware to the main course and dessert,” added Mohanchandran.

A few lucky guests at Souk on Thursday got to “experience” some of that fine whisky as glasses went around. More cheers filled the air when Sundeep Bhutoria reserved the first bottle of the single malt. And then it was time to celebrate again as regulars wished Souk a happy fourth birthday before digging into dinner!

(From left) Sujan Mukherjee, executive chef of Taj Bengal, and Prasad Metrani, sous chef of Souk

Best-sellers at Souk: (Veg) Crunchy Okra or Bamia Makhli, served with garlic, pinenut and coriander sauce.

(Non-veg) Hummus Bil Lahm, like the traditional hummus, served with crispy lamb and pinenuts; and Rubian Harra, prawns tossed in a Lebanese spicy sauce made of parsley and coriander.

Newest item: Cottage Cheese Kibbe. Unlike the traditional kibbe, which is made of lamb, this packs in a stuffing of pita, mint and hung curd, flavoured with cardamom powder.

What to pair with The Macallan 1990: Adana Kebab, a lamb kebab made with Turkish chillies and bell peppers and grilled.

Everyone’s favourite corner at Souk: The Chef’s Studio, a private dining space just next to the interactive kitchen, and Casablanca, another private zone upstairs.

Regular faces at Souk: Rituparna Sengupta, Karan Paul, Ratul Sood, Sanjiv Goenka and Harsh Neotia.