Till some time ago, the first thing that I’d think of when asked or told about Bengali cuisine was fish. But, 25 Parganas at Sahara Star has totally changed my outlook! And, now if you ask me out for a Bengali meal, I will readily join you because it has become a cuisine that excites and intrigues me with its flavours and textures!
Sometime ago, I was invited by Sahara Star, Mumbai to sample the menu at their new speciality restaurant 25 Parganas. So, off we went armed with a camera and empty tummies! We were led to the restaurant that is set quite intimately amongst the other restaurants of the hotel around an atrium. I quite liked the setting, and we made ourselves comfortable in a small corner of the restaurant.
I simply loved the crockery, the glasses, the dishes and the plates! These show plates we the most gorgeous!
Needless to say, our server for the day was extremely attentive and knowledgeable. This is a rather longish post – but the photographs taken by Ishaaq are amazing, so without further ado…
We started off with the appetisers that are divided into Bhapa (steamed) and Bhaja (fried) items. Our server ensured that we got a great balance of flavours in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies.
The beet bora is sweet and savoury and has a beautiful crust on the outside. It went beautifully with the kasundi (Bengali mustard sauce, which I have now developed a great liking for) given the contrasting pungent and sweet flavours of the combination.
The gondhoraj murgi is prepared using the famous Gondhoraj lime that is found commonly in Bengal. The lime offers a sour (obviously) yet rather mellow taste to the dish. The chicken was cooked to perfection.
Bhara potol bhapa was truly a revelation. Despite being a foodie, I don’t take kindly to most members of the gourd family – bottle gourd, ridge gourd, bitter gourd are not on my shopping list ever! So when it came to the potol in this dish (which is a summer gourd) I was rather skeptical. However, the dish was surprise – there was a lovely bite to the gourd and the stuffing was rather delicious – except for the raisins – but that’s a personal preference.
The mains, too, were delicious. I loved the combination of flavours in the various dishes selected by me and the chef, together.
We also had some delicious Begun Bhaja (fried eggplant), banana, summer gourd and potatoes as accompaniments.
The kosha mangsho – as expected was delicious! The tender pieces of mutton were full of the flavour of the sticky, thick gravy. However, I had once made a kosha mangsho using Kalyan Karmarkar’s recipe and that was better!
One of the mains that I didn’t really enjoy was the dhonepata bata diye murg – while I love using green chutney and fresh herbs with meat – this dish was too corainder’y’ for me and the chicken could have been cooked less.
I was rather intrigued about the use of chenna – the milk cheese traditionally prepared in Bengal – in the savoury dishes. So the chef surprised us with two dishes!
Daaber chanar malai is chenna cooked with the cream of tender coconut and its pieces! It was the most delicious coconut dish I’ve ever tasted! The chenna was delicate and supersoft, the malai cooked in the cream was a beautiful addition in terms of both flavour and texture.
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We couldn’t have much more than we already had, as you may have guessed! However, walking out without dessert is a sin!
But, I was more intrigued by the Nolen Gurer Icecream – I’d just heard about Nolen Gur vaguely. Turns out that Nolen Gur is a jaggery made from dates and specific to Bengal. I’d love to taste the actual jaggery, but till then, I’m happy tasting the icecream version.
On this sweet note, and gorgeous pic, I must say that 25 Parganas is worth a visit both for the food and the experience! If you are not a fan of mustard, there are a huge variety of dishes one can choose from across the menu! And, if nothing else, go for the Nolen Gurer Icecream!