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Pick raw fish, choose sauce, get served

Fresh-to-plate festival in DD Block offers choices

Sudeshna Banerjee | Published 25.08.23, 11:15 AM
(Clockwise) Grilled Bhetki with lemon butter sauce; Guests can choose the fish from the aquarium in the background. Tandoori Pomfret plated in the foreground, flanked by Corn and Pepper Rice and Flat Noodles, which can be ordered on the side; Crab in the aquarium and served on the plate

(Clockwise) Grilled Bhetki with lemon butter sauce; Guests can choose the fish from the aquarium in the background. Tandoori Pomfret plated in the foreground, flanked by Corn and Pepper Rice and Flat Noodles, which can be ordered on the side; Crab in the aquarium and served on the plate

Sudeshna Banerjee

Sand, the multi-cuisine restaurant at De Sovrani, the DD Block business hotel, is spreading out its catch of the day for fish-loving customers to pick from.

A fresh-to-plate festival is currently on till August 28 in which the menu surrounds a variety of both sweet water and seafish.

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The concept is based on a practice prevalent in the Southeast Asian countries, said Kamalini Paul, director, Paulson Hotel and Resorts. “In beach destinations, they show the lobster or the crab to the customers before it reaches the kitchen. The focus is on the freshness. Here we broadened the scope of the festival to include not just squid, prawn, crab and pomfret but also bhetki, koi and pabda,” she said.

These days, she pointed out, the visual appeal of the plating has overtaken other considerations. “We are deciding to talk about the basic thing — the dish itself. For that, the customer needs to know the main ingredient, i.e. the fish and how it would come to the table. In fact, we let him decide how the dish would be prepared,” she explained.

So while the options in fish are laid out in iceboxes or are swimming in the aquarium, the guest is also asked to choose among Chinese, tandoor, Indian and Continental styles of preparations.

“To help in the decision, the possible styles are listed out against the particular types of fish. Thus Chinese dishes can be cooked with pomfret, lobster, jumbo prawn, squid and crab and in a possible variety of sauces — chilli, butter garlic, sweet chilli and Thai style. All that is for the guest to decide,” Paul said.

The inclusion of pabda and koi has bolstered the Bengali options — Tel Jhal and Sorshe Masala — in the Indian selection. “One can choose the sauce even for a tandoor item -— tandoori, the spicy kachi mirch or the light-flavoured coconut malai,” said Paul Dhanraj, the area general manager, adding that customers were appreciating the interactive element.

The pricing has been done based on the choice of fish, irrespective of the preparation. The costliest would be the lobster at Rs 1,622. The other fish are priced between Rs 792 (for jumbo prawn dishes) and Rs 414 (for koi items).

Hilsa has been a deliberate omission. “Every hotel does hilsa festival. The silver harvest steals all the focus the entire monsoon,” Paul said.

Executive chef Manoj Kumar Shaw, who is undertaking a daily trip to the fish markets himself, pointed out that some chicken options had also been kept for those who do not take fish while vegetarians can opt for paneer seekh kebab and peri peri wedges among the side orders. “Our regular menu is also there in service,” he said.

Paul said it is the children who were the most excited customers. “Many have never seen uncooked fish. So for them, to see the fish and then to see them in a different avatar on the plate, ready to be eaten, is an eye-opener,” she said.

These days, with cooking ingredients getting home delivered, people are losing a connect with the source of food. “This is my humble contribution to a sustainable way of living by reminding people about where the fish came from and that only by preserving our surroundings will such fish continue to reach our plate,” she summed up.

Last updated on 25.08.23, 11:15 AM
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