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Oh! Calcutta pays culinary tribute to Satyajit Ray with ‘Manikdar Rajbhoj’

A grand feast, inspired by Ray’s favourite Bengali dishes, is on offer at the restaurant’s Forum Mall branch for two weeks

Saurav Roy | Published 12.05.22, 07:54 PM
The ‘Manikdar Rajbhoj’ spread at Oh! Calcutta

The ‘Manikdar Rajbhoj’ spread at Oh! Calcutta

Photos: Ritagnik Bhattacharya

A special thali laden with begun bhaja, aam postor bora, luchi with chholar daal, shukto, bhetki maacher paturi, chingri macher malai kari, kosha mangsho, lal lonkar meter jhaal, ilish maach bhaja and with kancha aamer chutney, mishti doi and bhapa sondesh as desserts would satiate the gastronomic cravings of most Bengalis. And, these are also some of the dishes that Satyajit Ray had a fancy for. So, to commemorate the centenary celebrations of his birthday, Oh! Calcutta at Forum Mall has curated a spread based purely on the tastes and preferences of the auteur.

Ritagnik Bhattacharya

The items to be served as a part of this commemorative culinary endeavor (that began on April 11 and will continue for two weeks depending on the response) have all been organised after detailed discussions with Ray’s family members. In an exclusive conversation with My Kolkata, Debashish Ghosh, senior business manager of the restaurant’s parent organisation, Speciality Restaurants, shared the thoughts and ideas behind this unique tribute. Plans were first made last year for such an event, but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. He noted how ‘Manikda’ (Satyajit Ray as he was fondly referred) and his family happened to be, “complete foodies in every possible way, having even named their family magazine ‘Sandesh’.

The thali has everything from begun bhaja and aam postor bora to bhetki maacher paturi and kosha mangsho

The thali has everything from begun bhaja and aam postor bora to bhetki maacher paturi and kosha mangsho

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Elaborating on why they chose to focus on Ray and food, Ghosh said, “In practically all of Satyajit Ray’s movies – be it Joy Baba Felunath or Agantuk – scenes are always embellished with a sequence or multiple sequences centred around food either visually or through dialogue. These sequences and conversations reveal how integral food was to Ray’s movies”.

Offering instances, Ghosh continued, “Towards the end of Joy Baba Felunath, just before Maganlal is about to exposed, Feluda tells Topshe to bring some food as he had not eaten all day. That created the scenario for a potful of sweets to weave its way into the screenplay. Again, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne has multiple sequences where food is literally cavorting before the audience courtesy the Bhooter Raja’s granting of wishes.”

Debashish Ghosh, senior business manager at Speciality Restaurants, poses with the delectable spread

Debashish Ghosh, senior business manager at Speciality Restaurants, poses with the delectable spread

Ghosh also highlighted Ray’s love for mutton and that Oh! Calcutta would be serving his favourites like Kosha Mangsho (mutton in thick spicy gravy) and Meter Jhal (slow-cooked mutton liver in a spicy red-chili gravy), along with Chingri Macher Malaikari (prawns cooked in a coconut gravy) and of course, Bhetkir Paturi (bhetki pieces in mustard paste cooked in banana leaves).

Sharing his thoughts at the inauguration of the event, Kingshuk Kundu, brand chef of Oh! Calcutta and other Speciality brands, said, “Lal Lonka Meter Jhal is the dish that I have taken special pride in creating.” He added, “All dishes on offer have been arrived at through genuine respect and admiration for Satyajit Ray, and was special to him.”

Ghosh and Kingshuk Kundu, brand chef of Oh! Calcutta and other Speciality brands, inspect their offerings

Ghosh and Kingshuk Kundu, brand chef of Oh! Calcutta and other Speciality brands, inspect their offerings

Elaborating further, Kundu said, “Satyajit Ray also loved raw mangoes and so we have improvised Aam Posto’r Bora (fritters with poppy seeds and raw mangoes). Regretfully, we cannot turn ourselves into a sort of ‘Bhuter Raja’ and bring forth the vast gamut of Bengali cuisine as witnessed in his films! But in our defense, we have been sincere in presenting the items that Satyajit Ray did and would have enjoyed”.

Last updated on 12.05.22, 07:54 PM
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