Bengali Food, But Not Exactly

Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Radisson Hotel in Delhi is organising a Bengali Food Festival from November 10 to November 17 at its 24-hour restaurant NYC. And to create a Bengali ambience, it is also organising various Bengali music and dance programmes and displaying handicrafts and ethnic art forms.

At a press preview of the cuisine, we were served with Daaber Jal (tender coconut water) as appetiser. For the starter, it was Luchi (poori of maida), Begun Bhaja (fried brinjal), Narkel Diye Cholar Dal (sweetened chana dal with coconut). The dal contains tomato pieces which is otherwise avoided if the recipe is cooked in authentic Bengali style. Though, the hotel emphasises that the above items are starters, but traditionally these items are snacks and not starters.

But I am told that the hotel is planning to serve some authentic starters like Mochar Chop (fried banana flower), Mangshor Singara (fried dumplings of mutton), etc., during the festival.

The main course consists some elaborate fish and meat dishes. To start with, there is the all-time favourite Shukto (a mixed vegetable curry), and Aaloo Posto (chops of potato cooked with opium seed); Chanar Dalna (curry of cottage cheese)all to be eaten with plain rice. The Posto, however, lacked the richness that it gets when cooked in traditional Bengal households.

Non-vegetable dishes were served after this. These included Doi Maach (sweet water Rahu fish cooked in curd); Ilish Paturi (steamed Hilsha fish marinated in mustard paste and wrapped in banana leaf), and Chingri Malaicurry (prawns in coconut paste gravy). The meat items included Mangsho curry (mutton gravy) and Chicken Kasa (chicken cooked in spices without water). Traditionally, in Bengali households, it is the other way round, though. Generally the mutton is used for Kosha Mungsho, not chicken.

Then there is a plastic chutney (sweet chutney of raw papaya) also. It is called plastic because the papaya slices remain transparent and are elastic like a piece of plastic.

For deserts there were the usual Mishti Doi, Sandesh, Rasagolla, and Langcha.

The food festival is on for both lunch and dinner and is laid out on buffet, priced at Rs 575 per person (excluding taxes). The hotel has got a couple of chefs from Bengal for the festival. Says Som Shankar, executive chef, Radisson Hotel, We have tried to keep the menu as authentic as possible and are getting fish and spices specially from Kolkata.