Burnt Garlic

Burnt Garlic is a Café Bar located on the Ground Floor of the Priya Cinema Complex. I loved the décor which was rather different from the average city café. Elegant Grey walls with some unusual paintings surrounded by needlepoint hoops mounted with bright fabric swatches. The area inside is divided into a mezzanine which is ideal for private parties and a cozy bar area and a general family section. The distressed wood tables were rather pleasing and I thought they made a grate background for the food pictures we took. The dividers made out of rolling pins added a lovely color palette to the setting.

We were warmly greeted by Gavin Baptist the Manager who not only took wonderful care of us but also patiently answered all our queries regarding the Menu. But as always the best and most important part of our experience is the food and that was what we were looking forward to. Our drink orders were taken and we were served up a Mai Tai to begin with since we preferred a Rum based cocktail. Later on during our dinner we also tried the Strawberry and Kiwi Mojito and both are great choices for Summer Cocktails and were well made.

Our dinner kicked off with a fabulous salad called Savor It. Now most people who know me will be surprised because I am not a salad person but I really enjoyed this one. It was such a perfect dish after the hot sultry weather and I loved the fresh citrus flavors of the orange sections against and the crunchy iceberg base. A Broccoli & Spinach Soup followed which I gave a miss because it was just too hot but my co-diners seemed to enjoy it. Two more starters followed Crispy Fried Cottage Cheese and Coriander Chicken …. The Cottage Cheese was very nice, I loved the Vinaigrette they served with it since it gave the dish some punch in terms of flavor as well as the texture of the dish. The Coriander Chicken was slightly on the bland side and I feel greater depth of flavor could have been achieved had the chicken been marinated longer.

Next up was a rather nice Oregano Chicken Burger. I believe they also have Pulled Pork and Juicy Lamb Burgers which I hope to try out on my next visit. The fries served alongside were nicely done and not at all soggy, a perfect accompaniment to the Burger. A Mushroom and Artichoke Crepe in a Thyme Cream Sauce followed and this was certainly one of the stand out dishes of the day for us. I would certainly suggest this to all those who visit and are not into overtly spicy food, lovely delicate flavors.

A Chicken Steak topped with Porcini Sauce and Roasted Potatoes followed and though I found the Chicken slightly bland I loved the Porcini Sauce which and the perfectly done potatoes. This has the potential of being an incredible dish with just a bit of tweaking.

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The much loved Chinese staples followed with a very good Veg Hakka Noodle and a spicy but tasty Kung Pao Chicken and these insured we ended our lovely dinner on a high note. It was good Indian Chinese and I loved both the noodles and chicken.

Despite us being stuffed our hosts insisted we try a dessert and the Tiramisu followed which was nice and fresh if not an absolutely authentic one.

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I am looking forward to further food explorations because a few items on the Menu have caught my eye. Do Grilled Pork Chops, Pork Pizza, Lamb Bolognaise Pizza, Roasted Chilli Pork sound as good to you as they do to me?

I am delighted to see these standalone places coming up in our city and giving us more choices and variety to explore and experiment.

DISCLAIMER: I was invited to dine as a guest of The Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.

PICTURE CREDITS: Suneha Saha

The venue is fairly accessible to those with restricted mobility but please note there are a couple of steps to negotiate while entering.
Burnt Garlic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aaheli 24 e 24

Bengali Cuisine today has attained great popularity and a number of popular local restaurant chains have branches literally all over the country. However a quarter of a century back there was a very different picture. Bengali food was restricted to homes and except for the local Pice Hotels they were largely unavailable. Gradually a couple like Suruchi and Kewpie’s did come up and while the food was delicious the ambience and experience was at best quaint and homely. That was until one man’s vision created a trend which has grown and keeps growing. On 18th May 1993 Mr.S.K.Roy who is now the Chairman of The Peerless Group took the plunge and created Aaheli, India’s first Bengali Fine Dining Restaurant and the rest as they say is history.

I was absolutely delighted to receive a personal invitation from Debasree Roy , Sr.Vice-President of the Peerless Group to attend a preview of 24 e 24to celebrate the twenty fourth birthday of the iconic Aaheli with a special thali consisting of 24 items. Each one was a gem and yes I was lucky enough to taste them all but more on that later!

We were given a warm welcome by Debasree and her Team, it would not do justice to this fabulous culinary experience to simply call it a meal so I would rather call it a Feast! We began with a delightful Aam Pora Shorbot which was one of the best I have sampled and a perfect drink after a hot and muggy day. Thereafter we were served one of their signature dishes the “Rui Machher Patishapta” which was outstanding. It is a pancake stuffed with minced fish and spices and served with kashundi (mustard). Depending on availability it is made with either Rui, Bhekti or Hilsa fish I fell in love with it after eating it and  I can completely understand why it’s so popular.

Then it was time for the “24 e 24” Thali to make a grand entrance and it floored us. The spread seemed endless and smelt delicious and it took oodles of self-control to click the photographs to share with all of you before we dived into this exquisite meal.

A nice Gandhoraj Ghol was served up and being a huge fan of the Gandhoraj Lemon I enjoyed it. We were served those gorgeous golden luchi’s that I was eyeing from the moment the Thali was laid out before me and the Panch Bhajar Bahar(5 kind of fries) where I really loved the Begun(Brinjal) and the Bori’s. Gobindhobog Rice and Ghee and a superb Goynaborir( sundried lentil savories shaped like ornaments) followed.  Shuktoni (mixed vegetable curry), Piyaz Postor Bora (onion and poppy fritters), Mohini Mochar Ghonto(banana flower curry) , Dumr-er Dalna(lentil dumplings) , Enchor-er Kalia(jackfruit curry), Purbora Potol (Pointed gourd stuffed with cottage cheese) rounded off the vegetarian offerings which were all excellent. We were also served up a really good Macher Matha Diea Moong Dal (fishhead cooked in lentils) which was really delicious and one of the nicest I have had in a long time.

Now followed the stars of the meal for me – Bhalo Laga Bhekti Paturi … lovely balance of spices, fish cooked to perfection … Bhalo Laga means something you like very much and this dish was so very aptly named because I could wax lyrical about it. Chamatkari Chingri Malai Curry was next … picture a plump, juicy golda prawn swimming in a bowl of delicious Malai Curry and you will want to dive in and join it. The Queen of Fish Hilsa or “Aahamori Aam Tel Eelish” followed and I promise I went straight to Cloud 9. Hilsa is my absolute favorite fish and this one was a winner all the way. By now though we just had a bite of everything we were super stuffed but the lure of the Kochi Panthar Jhol (mutton curry) paired with Pulao Rajnandini (slightly sweetish rice pulao) was impossible to resist and we dived in to this lovely combination and it surpassed expectations. Beautiful tender mutton in a bold rustic curry pleased us all and we wiped our plates clean.

The feast concluded with Kancha Aam-er Chutney and Papad followed by three sweet jewels. Paramanno , Aam Doi and Rajat Rajbhog with Pan and a very sweetly packed mouth freshener(roasted fennel seeds). Please note that all the sweets are made in-house by their halwai and were superb. Most of the ingredients are prepared from scratch in their kitchens.

Asheem Da the Manager has been there since the inception of Aaheli as have most of the Kitchen Staff and they treat every patron like a guest in their own home and take such good care of you that you look forward to your next visit before you even leave. The exquisite “24 e 24” Thali is available for Lunch and Dinner from 18th- 24th May, 2017 at both their outlets (Peerless Inn and Axis Mall). It’s priced at INR 2400/= plus taxes and the first twenty four guests who order it will receive a discount of 24 % each. If the finest Bengali Cuisine in the city is what you’re looking for then Aaheli is the place you should head out to. Wishing the entire Aaheli Team a very Happy 24th Birthday and looking forward to many more delicious meals and happy memories there.

DISCLAIMER: I was invited to dine as a guest of The Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.

PICTURE CREDITS: Suneha Saha

Aaheli and all the restaurants at The Peerless Inn are fully accessible to people with limited mobility as they have a ramp and an elevator.
Aaheli - The Peerless Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dhaba Style Food Festival,Durbari, Swissotel

Dhaba’s are the lifeline of the highways of India. They provide nourishment, sustenance and rest to travelers and commuters. Their necessity can’t be questioned but the local cuisine they have birthed has a huge following and great popularity. It’s the kind of food I love …. bold and rustic flavors that are unpretentiously delicious. I was therefore really looking forward to my dinner when I was invited for a preview of the Dhaba Festival at Durbari.

Durbari has a quiet elegance that is pleasing, though my favorite part is the painting in the lobby at the entrance of the hotel because it provides the ethnic touch to this Indian Restaurant. We were comfortably seated and our journey on the tummy highway began with a rather delicious Ambani Panna , a tart summer cooler made with raw mangoes. With this we were served a generous portion of assorted Papads and Dips of which the Aam Kasundi was hands down the one I would happily down bowlfuls of though all were rather good. There were also little bowls of assorted chutneys and pickles and the Aam Chutney was delicious. Soon a steaming hot bowl of a Kukkad da Shorba … a flavorful chicken broth was placed before us. I rarely indulge in soup in the summer but my first spoon for tasting made me continue to indulge.

What came up next was undoubtedly rather pleasing to my tummy … the delicious kebabs. Dhaba da Paneer Tikka , Tawa Jheenga , Tandoori Murgh , Seekh Kebab Pinjori , Barra Chaap and we quietly buckled down to gorging on the scrumptious fare on offer. Each dish was perfectly prepared and had its individual flavor that we thoroughly enjoyed.

By now we did not have an inch of space but the maincourse and dessert were still left. We insisted that we will share a single dish and thankfully we prevailed on our warm host to oblige. Gosht Nalli Korma, Dhaba di Dal and Paratha were again excellent. The Gosht was perfectly cooked falling of the bone and the Korma Gravy tasty enough to make a meal of by itself with our paratha. I really liked the rustic Dal and only wish I had more space to eat more than a spoonful.

We ended on a sweet note with a delicious Gulab Jamun each and staggered home happy! The Dhaba Festival is on till 21st May and I would highly recommend that you stop by and sample the delicious fare.

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Beside the comprehensive Ala Carte Menu, Durbari also has an excellent Set Meal with numerous choices in both Vegetarian & Non-Vegetarian options.

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DISCLAIMER: I was invited to Durbari as a guest of The Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.

PICTURE CREDIT: Suneha Saha

Durbari located in Swissotel is completely friendly to people with restricted mobility.
Durbari - Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Summer Specials at Gabbar’s Bar & Kitchen

Gabbar’s with its desi bolly swag and quirky plating is always one of those places I greatly look forward to dining in. It’s what I call “fun dining” from start to finish because the food tastes as good as it looks.

I was recently invited for a preview of their Summer Menu and was as always delighted. They have wisely stuck to crowd pleasers and popular choices but served up in the typical quirky Gabbar style. They have also introduced a Cocktail & Drink Menu called “Anarkali Bar Chali”. There are ten varieties of Chamak Challo Cocktails served in country liquor style bottles aptly named and labelled. Yes we tasted (please note only tasted) all of them and it was quite a heady experience. Our top picks were hands down the Luscious Laila (watermelon & vodka), Mirchi Munni (mango&white rum) and Mehbooba mein Dooba (lychee&tequila).  There are two “daaru ka tankers” each of 1500mls each of Beer OK Please and Dekho Magar Pyar Se LIIT. The beer is served in a mock gas pump bar dispenser and the LIIT in a tanker literally. The teetotalers should not despair as all the Chamak Challo Cocktails are available without alcohol in virgin form as well. There are also Alphonso Mango & Chocolate Milkshakes for those so inclined. Summer is thirsty business and Gabbar’s is a great place to go quench your thirst!

Now we come to what is always my favorite part… the food. I love that Gabbar’s serves up an amuse bouche… this one looked like eggs in a birds nest and no I won’t tell you what it was because half the fun is the discovery. We dived into some delicious snacky delights starting with a Mezze Thali with falafel, pita, hummus and the works. Next up was the sinful deep fried Mac n Cheese … a dish a cheese lover like me can’t go wrong with. Another one that caught our fancy was the rather unusual looking Charcoal Bhajiya. We enjoyed the Golden Fried Babycorn tossed in Hot Garlic Sauce and Chilli Honey Prawns which made us lick our fingers clean. The Bharwan Aloo & Chand ka Tukda Paneer were both excellent and I really liked them despite being a hard core non-vegetarian. There was also an interesting take on the Galauti which had the kebab mixture piped onto miniature sheermal rotis and then baked. The final dish will make lots of people happy… it is the very popular Chello Kebab v2.0 which consists of 3 small skewers of assorted chicken kebabs and three of mutton seekh kebab served in a mini coal brazier on your table with a side of rice topped with a sunny side up egg.

Overall a rather cleverly thought menu with a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes on offer. Light bites perfect for summer and also a wonderful choice with their excellent bar selection. The regular menu is still very much available to their patrons and these new offerings pair well with the existing ones.

The curtain came down on a yummy preview with two delectable desserts. Dhoom Macha Le which is a lovely chocolate ball filled with mango, mango mousse and nougat and makes for an explosive end to your meal (order it and see the fun) and my personal favorite Yeh Dil Maange More …. Fresh raspberry mousse covered with chocolate truffle which truly did leave me wanting more though I did not have an inch of space. Great balance of flavors and pairing chocolate with a berry is a combination that I adore. Talk about a sweet ending. Culinary Commentator Khush Hua!!!

DISCLAIMER : I was invited to this preview by the Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.

PICTURE CREDITS : Suneha Saha

Except for one step up to enter the restaurant it has complete access for those with limited mobility.
Gabbar's Bar & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WOKAHOLIC

I am a passionate foodie and one of the questions I get asked the most is what my favourite food is. My answer is quite simple and always the same…. I love all kinds of food and I don’t have a particular favourite but if I delve deep then I would confess that I am a wee bit partial to Chinese Food possibly because my Mom loves it and we ate it often whenever we went out in my childhood.

Kolkata serves up some excellent Chinese and in fact it boasts of the only China Town in our country, our very own Tangra. Therefore I am rather picky about where I choose to dine when I crave Chinese. Ritesh Srivastava, the Chief Mentor of Wokaholic had invited me a number of times and finally we settled on a mutually comfortable date and I hopped across. I liked the sound of the concept a DIY Wok Box and I was eager to check it out.

Wokaholic has four young partners Srivar Harlalka, Bhavesh Aidasani, Rishi Kanoi and Akash Chatterjee. I met Srivar and Bhavesh along with Ritesh and we settled down for a chat and a very nice meal. I first went and examined the Menu …. It’s a sensible one with various choices but it does not go overboard on the variety. Loved the utilization of space and the open kitchen, a modern concept and a great QSR format. The packaging is good and it’s very portable so that is a huge plus.

We began dinner with Chicken Sui Mai and Kafir Lime Scented Shrimp and Chicken Dumplings …. enjoyed both though I liked the simple flavors of the Sui Mai better , I felt that the Kafir Lime flavor could be highlighted more in the Shrimp and Chicken Dumplings. The Honey Sesame Chicken that followed our dim sums was the dish of the day. Great flavors and loved the hit of spice that followed the sweet honey taste, this will be my repeat order here for sure. Vietnamese Grilled Eggplant which I was informed was a signature dish of theirs followed. I personally dislike Eggplant but had a bite and it was not bad. Quite liked the textures of the dish and would certainly recommend it to all those who like Eggplant! Next we were served Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and this one is a crowd pleaser we polished it off in record time. The taste of the vegetarian dishes impressed me and we were served Black Pepper Paneer, Cream Cheese Rangoon and Thai Corn Fritters in tasting portions as we were already quite full. I enjoyed all of them but the Cream Cheese Rangoon Rolls are sinful and certainly what I will order again on my next visit. Cheese lovers don’t miss out on this one. (Please note that a number of the dishes are tasting portions as we wanted to explore the Menu on offer and the actual portion sizes are larger)

A special mention must be made for the various sauces and dips they serve their patrons. Nine different base sauces for the wok box and a number of others for the starters and dim sums. I actually requested for a taste of all of them once we finished our starters and they did not disappoint.

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Now it was time for the star attraction, the Wok Box. Here is how it works, there are five steps each with various options and you get to choose exactly what you want in your wok box from A to Z! Step 1 – Begin with the Base – choose from two varieties of rice and three different kinds of noodles; Step 2 – Select your protein of choice from two vegetarian and three non-vegetarian options; Step 3 – Take your pick of 11 different vegetable options; Step 4 – Choose from 9 different sauces and believe me after tasting them all, it’s a tough choice to make. Step 5 – Finally the add-ons and you have 6 varieties to decide from. That order makes for a yummy Wok box to dig into. We selected Egg Noodles with Chicken, Corn, Baby corn, Pakchoi tossed in the Hot Crispy Garlic Sauce with no add-ons. What arrived was delicious and if you like noodles as much as I do then you must visit Wokaholic.

Stuffed I was ready to stagger home and call it a night but there was a surprise in store for us, they were introducing Brownies and Bubble Tea to commemorate completion of a successful 6 months and we were the first to sample 4 delicious varieties of mini-brownies and they were really good. In fact they surprised me as good brownies were the last thing I was expecting at Wokaholic. They will also have introduced Bubble Tea’s by the time this is published so you can drop by and check out the new additions.

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Disclaimer: I was invited to dine as a guest of The Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.

Picture Credits: Suneha Saha

Wheel Chair Access is partial though it’s on the ground floor but one step above the ground level which will have to be managed by a person with restricted mobility.
Wokaholic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mrs.Magpie & Saffron Cup offer a Special Selection of Tea’s

Mrs.Magpie needs little introduction in Kolkata, one of the most loved Café’s with the best cupcakes the city has to offer and some fine food. It has a long list of loyal patrons including me and it’s a place that always puts a smile on my face. I was therefore delighted when Sohini Basu (Mrs.Magpie herself) invited me over on Sunday for a Tea Tasting by Saffron Cup who are making a name for themselves in the city by serving up Authentic Artisanal Tea’s. Founded by Ruchi and Jai Kejriwal who are as passionate about Tea as I am about food. Jai’s family has been into Tea for over half a century and he was determined to give Kolkata consumers top quality Tea which is focusing on flavor and freshness.

Almost all the teas on offer can be enjoyed without milk and sugar. It was a fascinating insight into the world of tea because over our conversation that afternoon I gathered that all the tea’s offered by Saffron Cup use Natural Oils and over seventy different materials to make some stunning blends for the consumer. When I asked Jai why he had selected Mrs.Magpie he said he was struck by Sohini mirroring his work ethics and the same passion to offer top notch products to Kolkata without any compromise on quality. That certainly sounded like a recipe for a successful collaboration to me!

The minute I walked in the beautifully laid out table with an assortment of teas and some very tempting Cucumber Sandwiches, Scones, Cookies and Cake caught my eye. Sohini introduced me to Ruchi and Jai and we all settled down for a lovely chat interspersed with some wonderful teas and delicious food to accompany it.

Since three of the teas on offer could be had either iced or hot I opted to go with trying out the trio of iced teas on a rather hot and muggy afternoon. We began with “Bed of Roses” a rather delicate blend of white tea infused with rose oil and petals. I really enjoyed it and loved the balance, none of the flavors were overpowering. After a while of nibbling on cookies and scones I tried the Lemon Grass Iced Tea – a pure Himalayan herbal infusion, it had some interesting flavors and was a great selection on a hot afternoon. I also was chatting with other guests who tried other teas that I had not and I was given excellent feedback on the Signature Darjeeling and Peppermint Tea which I plan to try on my next visit. I ended my tea treat with a Magic Mango Iced Tea – great tropical flavors and I loved it. The Tea’s I had were excellent and I loved the various flavors, what impressed me the most is the balance in the blends which were perfect.

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The Saffron Cup Teas are beautifully packaged and a lovely selection is available at Mrs. Magpie for purchase as well to carry home for the family or give as a gift. The menu is available at both Mrs. Magpie outlets from Friday 5th May , 2017 so you’re going to find me there after a hard day’s work with my cup of tea in hand and a plate of my favorite scones in front of me. And please believe me when I tell you that I am smiling at the thought of doing that even while writing it!

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DISCLAIMER: I was invited for the tea tasting by The Management but the views expressed are entirely my own.
Mrs. Magpie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Finely Chopped brings The Travelling Belly to Kolkata

I love to read almost as much as I like to eat so when I come across The Travelling Belly that is a happy combination of the two I was delighted. I have had the good fortune of getting to know Kalyan Karmakar first as an award winning blogger ( http://www.finelychopped.net ) that I greatly admire and more recently as a cherished friend. When he called and asked me if I would be the Master of Ceremonies at the Kolkata Book Launch and Reading of The Travelling Belly I immediately accepted because it would be a priviliged to share this special moment with him and also because I genuinely loved the book. Incidentally both the blog and his book were named by his lovely wife Kainaz.
The book travels across the length and breath of the country making you hungrier as you turn every page. For those who have had the privilege to meet Kalyan Karmakar they will realise that the book is a true reflection of who he is as a person…warm, grounded, kind, funny and always making you hungry ! The tips and suggested walks at the end of every section are a super value addition to the book and a rather unique feature.
The book launch and reading were hosted by Siddhartha Bose of Bhojahori Manna at their Hindustan Park outlet and it was an absolute full house. It seemed that the City of Joy was determined to give Kalyan a resounding welcome home. All the delicious “jolkhabar” that Siddhartha Da had organised including a delicious Luchi and Aloo Torkari , Mutton Singhara , Fish Chop , Mochar Cutlet and Jilipis were delicious and truly the icing on the cake for all the guests present who happily tucked into the mouthwatering fare on offer.


After a brief introduction of Kalyan (who as I mentioned certainly needed no introduction) he had a chat with us about the book and then The Travelling Belly was launched in The City of Joy by his elegant and lovely Didu (Granny) who is his reason to keep coming back to the city as often as possible. She graced the occasion and not only made it even more special for Kalyan but for all of us present there. Thereafter I requested Kalyan to read tor us from the book and he obliged with an extract which spoke of his arrival in Kolkata from Iran and his then hate, now turned love affair with Bengali Cuisine. His Didu is considered to be the best Chef in their family and when he shifted to Mumbai two decades back it was her recipes that he started to cook for his wife in their little kitchen.


The lovely reading was followed by a lively and interactive “adda” in true Calcutta style with enthusiastic audience participation after which Kalyan was surrounded by everyone present to sign their copy of his book and pose for numerous selfies and photographs. It was such a joyous, unpretentious, warm and touching evening and quite a fitting welcome to Kalyan Karmakar and The Travelling Belly.

 

The book is available on Amazon and all major book stores.

Picture Credits : Suneha Saha

My passion is my enduring love for food of all kinds. Blogger, Writer, Food Enthusiast, Traveller, Bookworm, Founder : Kolkata Food Fanatics.