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Showing posts from February, 2012

Bohemian rhapsody

I have always believed that outlandish – and modish -- stuff like, say, Yellowfin tuna with aubergine caviar or a raan wrapped in mille feuille, was all very well for them other types of cuisine. As far as Bengali food went, I kinda liked it true blue. Call me square, but that’s been my thinking all along.

So I went to this restaurant called Bohemian in south Calcutta’s Ballygunge Place with some amount of trepidation. I had heard from friends that they did a “contemporary” take on Bengali cuisine. Meaning what, I wondered. Lau Chingri encased in shortcrust pastry? Or maybe a doi maachh with mint reduction? Anyway, I decided that whatever it was, it needed checking out.

Well, I have to say that Bohemian knocked the suspicion and scepticism right out of my mind. Chef Joy Banerjee, who made his bones in Oh! Calcutta – the restaurant chain that’s put Bengali cuisine firmly on the country’s culinary map – has come up with a menu that’s as interesting to read – and salivate over -- as it…

Risotto repast

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I have this friend who is passionately fond of prawns. I thought I’d do a prawn recipe for her and settled on a prawn risotto that I rather like making. Well, it really ought to be a seafood risotto, with some lobster, clams and mussels thrown in as well. But risotto with prawns – whether scampi or even some biggish shrimps – is just as yummy. In fact, to some it may taste even better, for clams and mussels are a bit of an acquired taste.

My first brush with risotto was tragic, though. It was years ago, in Rome. I was an impecunious young journo, travelling on a shoestring and staying in a grotty little bed and breakfast off the magnificent Via Nazionale. When dinner time approached, I headed into one of those roadside trattorias jam-packed with tourists. I waited patiently for a table. The prospect of sitting al fresco and digging into Italian cuisine while being attended by dishy looking Italian waiters seemed wildly appealing. I had read about the risotto, but had never sa…

Boil and bubble

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It was Saraswati Puja last Saturday. Now I always heave a sigh of relief when this particular puja rolls up in Bengal around the end of January or the beginning of February. That’s because it marks the conclusion of the stream of pujas (read raucous merrymaking) in these parts that begins with venerating Vishwakarma – the god of artisans -- in the middle of September and continues for nearly four months with spectacular obeisance being paid in turn to goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, Kali, Jagaddhatri and perhaps a few more I’ve missed out. However, to me Saraswati Puja is not just about the temporary close of Bengal’s puja calendar. Since I have a somewhat one-track mind, I never fail to think of it without dwelling pleasurably on the hearty eating that takes place on this day. Like most religious festivals, this too is celebrated with the cooking – and eating -- of certain signature local dishes. What’s interesting is that there are two distinct culinary traditions at work here – Saraswati…