My knowledge about Bengali food is highly limited to one Kolkata trip many years ago as a student, where I stuffed my face with kathi rolls for three meals a day. Where I cut a lackluster birthday pastry at Flury’s that everyone strongly recommended. Where I had a tedious time de-boning an Ilish fish, but it turned out to be absolutely worth it in the end. So as you can see, my knowledge about Bengali food is highly limited.
So when Trident, BKC invited me over to try their new Bengali food menu at Maya – their lovely Indian restaurant – I couldn’t say no to learning more about this cuisine. Firstly, because I work for a Bengali company now, and there could be no better way to bond with the boss than over food. And secondly, Chef Gaurav Sircar who was cooking for us last night is quite the maestro when it comes to showcasing the food of his state.
I decided not to do a conventional review of the food there, since I am a layperson when it comes to Bengali food and I really don’t have the knowledge to critique the taste. And also I am tired of writing conventional reviews, just as I am sure you readers are tired of reading them. Here are three things I discovered during my pleasurable Bengali meal at Maya.
1. Bengali’s LOVE their meat.
Bongs and Bawas could have been brothers from other mothers – they both obsessively enjoy their meat and fish. The Hasher Dimer Devil – a Bengali version of Scotch eggs – duck eggs coated with chicken mince and then crumb fried is really unlike anything else you’ve eaten before.
The Mangshor Chop was another favorite – well flavoured lamb cutlets are always welcome! The star of the night was the Daab Chingri – prawns baked in a tender coconut shell. Each bite was so complex, alternating between flavours of seafood, coconut, and mustard from the ‘panch phoron’ masala.
Do try the kasundi mustard + green mango relish that comes alongside the appetizers, or else face the wrath of Kali Maa. If there is anything like ‘Bengali Wasabi’, then this is it!
2. They enjoy their vegetables too.
I was expecting a meat laden menu, but was pleasantly surprised to see tons of vegetarian options as well. I never thought I would enjoy a dish made from raw banana flowers – but the Mochar Chop madefor a delicious snack and I enjoyed the mock meat consistency the cutlet seemed to have. The Kosha Alur Dom – a Bengali style Dum Aloo – was demolished with hot lucchis by the side. Poori and Aloo seems to be a match made in heaven that goes beyond all regional boundaries.
3. I fell in love with Nolen Gur all over again.
I remember trying Nolen Gur roshogullas during my previous Kolkata trip, and thinking that they taste better than regular roshogullas. I went on a Nolen Gur eating binge back then – this date palm jaggery is found only in winters in West Bengal. A bite of the Nolen Gur Sandesh ice cream at Maya, and I could hear Rabindra Tagore reciting poetry in my ear. A beautiful amalgamation of two desserts without coming across as forced, this creamy ice cream comes drizzled with nolen gur on top. Highly recommended!
I was expecting fish, robust mustard flavor, and roshogullas when I entered. I walked out completely eliminating those stereotypical myths associated with Bengali food. Purabi Naha, a food blogger who specializes in Bengali cooking was dining there that evening as well. She strongly vouched for the authenticity of the dishes on the menu. And I strongly vouch for the taste. Khoop Bhalo!
The Bengali Food Festival is on at Maya, Trident BKC till the 27th of November, 2015.
(The author was invited to dine at the restaurant. However, the views are unbiased and entirely her own.)