I have known Mrs. Iti Misra for most of my life by virtue of having the privilege of us being neighbors. Yes we lived in the same building and her daughter Radhika and I both went to school together. All us girls always looked up to Iti Aunty because she was a lovely,tall, very elegant Airline executive and still managed to be a chef par excellence as well as an incredible Mother to her children. Once my parents shifted residence we were not in regular touch but thanks to living in Kolkata we always bumped into each other all over the city. I was delighted when Monkey Bar opened last year and I spotted ‘Iti Aunty’s Daab Chingri Pizza’ one of the first Bengali inspired dishes to feature on Monkey Bar Kolkata’s inaugural menu. Iti Aunty is now a home chef and hugely popular among Kolkata circles for her amazing repertoire of authentic Bengali food. Proud of her Bengali heritage she helps travelers discover the flavors of Bengal through home style Bengali meals and cooking sessions at her home in Kolkata. When not traveling the world in search of her next adventure, she participates in pop ups in different cities, spreading her love for home style Bengali cuisine, across the country.
I had the privilege of having a lovely chat with her after ages thanks to this blog post. I asked her what inspired her and what her thoughts behind these Pujo Special Thalas were and she told me in her typical style that there were two specific reasons. Firstly the classic family recipes were getting lost. People today had neither the time nor the inclination to sit at home and make them. She herself has inherited them from her mother and grandmothers and wants to preserve them. Secondly, today she fondly scolded me saying that that we “kids” never wanted to eat at home, we wanted to hang out at “cool” places drink a few cocktails and have “fun with friends”. Hence she decided that she will create these “fun” sharing thalas that we can all enjoy in our “cool” places but with authentic family recipes and so this Durgo Pujo Special which I highly recommend none of you miss out on was planned and will be available from September 24 to 30, 2017, at Monkey Bar – Kolkata and Delhi.
Amidst the dhaak, dhunuchi and Pandal hopping, swing by Monkey Bar to enjoy the authentic flavors of Bengali heirloom dishes specially curated by Kolkata based home chef and passionate foodie – Mrs.Iti Misra. ‘Iti Aunty’s Pujor Special Thaala’ comes in three variants- the Vegetarian Thaala-Rs. 999+ taxes, the Seafood Thaala- Rs. 1299+ taxes and the Chicken Thaala – Rs. 1199+ taxes. Presented with a Monkey twist, each thaala serves two persons and comprises a selection of specials as well as popular favourites of every ‘petuk’ Bengali.
Each thaala will have a portion of spicy aloo dum topped with bhaja masala, crisp and flaky Mughlai Porota or hot, fluffy luchis, Begun Kasundi, plastic (papaya) chutney, delicately flavored with aam aada and tangy tomato chutney. The mains in each thaala are different with the niramish or Vegetarian Thaala serving delicious Dhokaar Dalna, Parval stuffed with spicy chhana (paneer) and the Bengali delicacy of Sukhto – a mélange of vegetables cooked in mustard sauce.
For fish-lovers out there, the Seafood Thaala promises to be a veritable feast with Fish Kochuri to go with the Aloo dum, Bhaapa Chingri wrapped in Kumra Pata or pumpkin leaves, Bhoona Khichuri topped with fried mourala fish or fried prawns, Fish Cutlet and the delicately flavored Kamala Bhetki– fish cooked in fresh orange juice! Incidentally the Fish Kochuri is Iti Aunty’s personal favorite. It’s her mother’s specialty.
If you still prefer the Chicken Thaala, it serves up a portion of hearty Bhoona Khichuri with Chicken Meatballs, the ever popular snack Chicken chop, a robust and spicy Chicken Kosha and the old favorite Omelette Curry.
“Bengali food is a personal favorite and the cuisine an inspiration for our menus from the time we first opened Monkey Bar. It is our continuous endeavor to showcase regional flavors in a fun and contemporary version. What better way to celebrate Durga Pujo than to invite Iti Aunty to put together her favorite Bengali dishes in the Pujor Special Thaalas – giving you a taste of Bengal in a fun and cool format.” said Chef Manu Chandra, Chef Partner Monkey Bar.
DISCLAIMER: I was invited as a guest of the Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.