Wednesday 26 February 2014

Mexican Food Festival-Taj Bengal

Let me begin on a honest note and confront that my understanding of Mexican cuisine is limited to Tacos, Nachos and Burritos and I only have the Fast food culture to blame on my lame knowledge. When Kolkata Food Bloggers received an invitation from Taj Bengal to attend their ongoing Mexican Food Festival with chef Eduardo Perez, I was pleasantly surprised to go back home with a whole new understanding of this vibrant cuisine. 
We had the privilege of  having the Chef himself take us through a beautiful journey of understanding the Mexican cuisine. The important pillars of this cuisine are Corn, Black beans and Chilly pepper. There are about 100 varieties of chillies, with heat levels ranging from mild to very hot, used in this cuisine and Chef Eduardo cited it as a main ingredient in his creations. Tortillas, a staple in Mexican cooking is made with a special kind of corn flour called Masa. We also learned  that their basic medium of cooking is in Corn oil. Mexican cuisine can also be very complex with a simple dish such as Mole sauce(a traditional sauce) which can have more than 30 ingredients which includes chocolate and chillies.
Amongst the many differences in the ingredients and cooking techniques, Chef Eduardo enlightened us with some of the similarities it has with Indian cuisine. He told us about a cheese called Panela which is very similar to our Cottage cheese but has salt in it unlike our bland one. A number of their desserts include reducing Goats milk to a thicker consistency much like our Rabdi. 
This only proves the fact that Food is universal and is a beautiful medium to enrich our understanding of each other. Taj Bengal has taken the wonderful initiative to bring authentic Mexican flavours to treat our taste buds. This festival is on till 2 February, 2014 and is open for both Buffet and A La carte, Lunch/Dinner. The menu served to us was part of the A la Carte which will cost for Rs 3000/- inclusive of taxes for two.

Chef Eduardo Perez
We were warmly greeted by the team of Taj Bengal over some fresh Orange juice and were soon joined by the company of the chef himself who very patiently explained us the components of each dishes and answered all our queries.

Our tryst with the Mexican cuisine started with a warm bowl of soup called Sopa Azteca. This was basically a tomato soup spiced with a chilly called Chipotle and had chicken in it along with fried tortilla. The chipotle according to Chef was used three times lesser than what they use in Mexico. For my taste buds, the soup was already spicy enough with the one-third use of chipotle. The fried tortilla strips in the soup was obviously soggy  and hence  I liked the tortilla strips served with it which added a nice crunch. A dollop of sour cream was suggested to minimize the spiciness which tasted refreshing.

For starters, we were served the famous Chimchangas to which the Chef had added an obvious Indian touch by stuffing Flour Tortilla with mashed and spiced potatoes. The dish reminded me of the Churmur we have with fresh chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves topped with generous lemon juice. Chef Eduardo suggested us to pair it with Sour cream and a fresh Salsa. This dish was a perfect fusion between the Mexican technique and Indian flavours and was enjoyed by all.

Next to come was Chicken Fajitas, another popular Mexican dish which is a flour tortilla with mexican spiced grilled chicken and cheese. This dish was well balanced in flavours.

For the main course we were served the traditional Mole Con Pollo which is Chicken with sweet Mexican sauce. Chef told us that the mole sauce was made with more than 15 ingredients which included spices like cinnamon and ingredients like peanuts, chocolate and chilly. The dish was served with Mexican rice which had kidney beans in it.

The main course ended with Enfrijoladas which is basically corn tortilla stuffed with sweet corn and cottage cheese served with a kidney bean sauce. I found this dish to my liking and loved the flavours in it.
Pic courtesy Kamalika Chakrabarty
My affair with the Mexican cuisine got strengthened with the dessert served for the day which was Churros. Served with tender Coconut Ice cream and hot chocolate sauce, it was truly the cherry on my cake. Rolled with cinnamon and sugar, these deep-fried pastry doughs took my heart away. Crunchy on the outside but soft inside, these were on my list for some time and I am glad to have tasted the finest.

I thank the staff of Taj Bengal for inviting us over and enriching our experience of global food and chef Eduardo Perez for very patiently and passionately guiding us through understanding this remarkable cuisine. 

Kolkata Food Bloggers with Chef Eduardo Perez

Disclaimer : The opinions shared here our my own and are not influenced monetarily or otherwise.

Check out my friends Kamalika and Archita's experience.


Tuesday 25 February 2014

The Kolkata Grape Harvest Feast- Swissotel

Perhaps for the first time in Kolkata the giant wine brands of India like the Four Seasons, Sula, Nine Hills, Grovers and Antarez came together to celebrate the spirit of good food and great wine at the event organized by Swissotel which was rightly called The Grape Harvest Feast on Sunday 23rd February, 2014. With the exponential explosion of the food industry in India the appreciation for wine is poised to surge at a trajectory that only can be contained by imagination. The world of wine opens up to experience a higher culinary dynamics and the Kolkata Grape Harvest Feast singularly broadcasted the effects of great wine and great food by having the major wine brands of India come together on a common platform and open up their cellars and reserves for novice and experts to sample the best Indian wines. 

The Kolkata Grape Harvest Feast in Swissotel was marked with a casual atmosphere to party over endless flow of wine alongside live music and exquisite food. There was also grape stomping with the GM of Swissotel Marco Saxer and his wife Nina Saxer who were joined by Anant Iyer, COO-RPC East & Nepal of United Spirits Limited and his wife Jyoti Sachdev Iyer who also took part in the Bengal Fashion Week at Park Hotel earlier in the week. 
From the Four Seasons Stable. 
Four Seasons have emerged as a major player in the Indian wine market. They have their wineries at Baramati, Maharashtra, which is also becoming a popular tourist attraction. 

Sula were the first to enter into the wine market in India by growing and harvesting wine in Nasik. Sine its inception other players followed marking India as one of the finest new world wine growers.

 Collection from the Seagram's Nine Hills Wines.
Seagram's Nine Hills wine gets it name from the nine hills surrounding Nasik where the company's winery and the vineyards are located

Grovers wines have gained great respect and admiration from wine lovers in India. They too have become a major player in the Indian market with their range of wines. 

With Shubhadip Deb Roy of Grovers and Keith W Edgar, Sommelier, Wine Ambassador.

 With Joyjit Chakraborty, Director of Food & Beverage, Swissotel, the man behind the Kolkata Grape Harvest Feast. He and his team conceptualized and brought together this event with all the brands supporting the spirit of wine.

The event was also marked with the encouragement and awareness support for organic food and organic colours for Holi. Green Tokri with their tagline of 'Fresh from our farms to your Fridge' have started home deliveries of the fresh and organic food. Their vegetables are grown in specially built Hydrophonic Greenhouses which makes it possible for them to grow without the use of chemicals and pesticides. They also have a range of herb dressings and other delicacies like Basil pesto, Sun dried tomato in oil, pickled capsicum etc.  

The Kolkata Food Bloggers Team have been thrilled to cover the event which has reeled off a true appreciation for great Indian wines along with having a passion for food. 

We believe that the wine market in India is going to grow at a phenomenal rate and as the awareness of the wine spreads amongst the people, we would look back and credit events such as this that helped campaign the true spirit of wine.

Keep Sipping

Vishal & Amrita

Thursday 20 February 2014

Restaurant review-The Corner Courtyard

92B, Sarat Bose Road, Kolkata
033 40610145, +91 9903999567
Meal for two-Rs 1500/-(approx)

Kolkata! Call it the City of Joy, of congestion, of rich cultural heritage or of pollution, the fact remains that Kolkata is a city where everything exists in perfect harmony and it is a city that makes you fall in love with its charm, glory and grandeur. Here, the bygone and the modern both exists in perfect synchronization. Kolkata has always embraced and welcomed every new thing, every new beginning with loads of love and warmth.
This city might not appear any different than other cities in this country with its traffic jams, high rises, slums, malls etc but anybody who has lived here will tell you how different this city is. Kolkata is a city that you breathe, hear and feel.
This passion and love for Kolkata has made Megha Agarwal, CEO and founder, open a Boutique Heritage Hotel and Restaurant of its kind which is very aptly and warmly named The Corner Courtyard.
Kolkata Food Bloggers were cordially invited by their team to review the restaurant and their ongoing fund raiser programme for SOS Children Village Kolkata in collaboration with Actor Kunal Kapoor's online fund raising portal 'Ketto'. A special Spring Summer Menu has been designed for this which will also become part of their regular menu afterwards. This fund raising programme is on till the 26th of February. 
Myself and Kamalika dropped in their Sarat Bose Road address on a quiet Wednesday afternoon unaware of the experience that was awaiting to unfold for us.
At first glance, it is a beautiful pristine white building reminiscent of the Raj empire. The 108 years old building has been restored painstakingly and at times almost impossibly to its present day look. Inside the restaurant awaits little delights in each corner in the form of quirky vintage accessories, old photographs of the same building, books, vintage lamps and chandelier etc. The dining area calls for a special mention to a wall which is adorned with knick knack brassware like doorknobs and latches personally collected by Megha. 
The menu at The Corner Courtyard boasts of Global cuisine which is handpicked by their Head chef Rohan D' Souza. Modern presentation and use of the freshest ingredients are the key elements to each dish that they offer. 

We were welcomed with a glass of fresh Orange juice and had the lovely company of Riddhi and Namrata, from the PR team who very promptly answered our questions. Soon to join was the lady herself, Megha Agarwal who shared with us her experience of living her dream project. Head Chef Rohan and chef Chanchal very sweetly answered all our food related queries and their F&B Manager Rozario helped us by selecting the dishes for the day. 
For starters, we  were served a salad which had oven roasted beets, crumbled feta cheese, roasted crushed almonds and wine poached pear wedges with lemon dressing. The name in itself describes all the components of the very fresh and seasonal salad. I especially appreciated the crunch of the almonds  and the soft juicy beets. Served with onion rounds, tomato wedges and orange segments, this salad was quite a winner with its gently flavoured dressing. 

The second starter of the day was Grilled Italian Chicken Patties with salad Caprese and garlic aioli. Rozario made a special suggestion to eat the three key elements-chicken patty, tomato and Buffalo mozarella together to relish the dish. The softness and blandness of the cheese along with the  freshness of the tomato with the tightly packed chicken patty truly completed the gastronomic experience of the dish. The garlic aioli was gentle in its flavour which accompanied the dish well overall.

Our third starter for the day was Grilled Chicken Satays with Kafir infused Apple Red Cabbage chutney and Sweet chilli Balsamic dressing. The apple and red cabbage bed appeared as a very innovative presentation. The satay however did not stand much against our expectation. I personally felt the true satay flavours less pronounced.

Pic courtsey Kamalika Chakrabarty
Our main course comprised of two dishes, the first of which was Peruvian styled grilled fish topped with Cajun spiced crab meat with tomato tobasco butter with lemon smashed potatoes and sauteed garden vegetables. We were served a very fresh and chunky  Bhetki fillet. The spicy crab meat complemented the blandness of the fish. I especially loved the subtly flavoured lemon mashed potatoes. The portion size was exceptionally good.
Pic courtsey Kamalika Chakrabarty
Our second dish for main course was Grilled Italian Lamb meat balls with Spaghetti Americano and crumbled feta. I completely enjoyed and loved this dish which was very balanced in its flavours and had perfectly cooked and stuffed meat balls. The feta though was very subtle to our tastebuds and to our eyes and so we could not taste its identity. I wish I had gone easy on the fish to have more space for this dish.
Pic courtsey Kamalika Chakrabarty
The dessert section for The Corner Courtyard outsourced by The Rouge. Being a dessert enthusiast I was pretty unhappy about it not being made in-house. Chef Chanchal explained us the reason being space inadequacy. We were served a portion of Chocolate Eclair with creme patisserie filling and a 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate mousse. The chocolate mousse came in a dark chocolate shell which appeared very impressive. Both the desserts was just about okay for my liking. I will certainly look forward to some in-house creations by the team.  
Pic courtsey Kamalika Chakrabarty

Chef Chanchal gave us a quick tour of the rooms of the Boutique hotel each of which is designed with one key colour that represent the true spirit of Kolkata. I loved this concept and was truly bowled with the breathtaking beautiful vintage furniture that each room boasts of.

We really appreciate the time given by each member of the team and love the passion that they equally share. 

Check out Kamalika's experience here.


Disclaimer: All views are my own and I have not been influenced monetarily or in any other way to write the review.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Chicken Valentine

Each one of us have a story to tell
And there is one that I have too
Of our tales through numerous spell
Each season marked with different hue
'Midst turn and bends, highs and lows 
Our discretion of life clearer grows.

One of the mediums through which I tried to impress my wife during our courtship was poetry. Today much of poetry has turned into passion for cooking and food that we commonly share. This Valentine week friends from Kolkata Food Bloggers decided to celebrate it through the theme 'Love on the Plate-Dinner for Two' where we were supposed to make dinner for two (two of us ofcourse). Coincidentally Valentine Day also happens to be our marriage anniversary so the idea of 'dinner for two' particularly intrigued me. 
Its been four amazing years with my wonderful wife and certainly I do not need a Valentine Day to remind me how fortunate I have been to have her in my life. She complements and completes, encourages and appreciates, ignores my shortcomings, bears my complacency, forgives my inadequacies and loves unconditionally. 
Like cooking, sometime life begins to sing in a monotonic song.  Some of my cooking style, like the chicken roast, became very monotonic and predictable to Amrita in the sense that she more or less knew what group of ingredients and spices I would be use in the process. Therefore I mustered up enough courage to try something different this time. I had conceptualized this myself and hoped it to be edible. Thankfully it did impress her. I, naturally, could think of no better name for it but 'Chicken Valentine'.


Roast Chicken:
  • Chicken breast boneless 2 pieces about 500 gm
  • Balsamic Vinegar- 2 tbsp
  • Worcestershire Sauce- 1 tbsp
  • Red wine (I used a homemade one)- 100 ml
  • Vegetable Oil- 2 tbsp
  • Salt to Taste
Sautéed Vegetables:
  • Broccoli- 25gm
  • Baby Corn- 3 sticks
  • Green Capsicum- 1/2 Capsicum
  • Garlic- 2 Cloves
  • Olive Oil-1 tbsp
  • Salt to Taste
  • Freshly crackled black pepper
  • Cherry Tomatoes- 6 Pcs


Wash and clean chicken.
Marinate it in Balsamic Vinegar and Worcestershire Sauce and salt for 1/2 hr.
Chop Capsicum, Baby Corn and Broccoli very finely. Crush and chop garlic.
In a pan warm olive oil and put garlic. Cook for few second till it releases the aroma.
Place the finely chopped veggies and whole cherry tomatoes. Sauté slightly, not overcooking it and at the same time maintaining the crispness of the veggies. Season with salt and freshly crackled pepper. Set aside.
In another pan heat oil and pan roast the marinated chicken. Cook for about 6 minutes each side or till done. Set aside.
Deglaze the fond in the pan with wine and reduce to a medium consistency.
To deglaze a pan means adding liquid such as stock or wine to a pan to loosen and dissolve food particles (called fond) that are stuck to the bottom. The flavorful mixture produced by deglazing can then be used to make a sauce. (

Place the  sauté vegetables on one side and place the chicken breast slightly on the inner side towards the center. Drizzle with wine sauce.
Serve with toasted garlic bread and choice of wine.

Happy Valentine


Saturday 8 February 2014

Mutton Pasanda-Amma's recipe

As a result of the unprecedented advancement in the information technology the availability of recipes and culinary information through the internet has brought about a new wave of food related interest, hobbies, readership and profession that could have never been imagined before. With a simple click of a mouse you have all the information about your food subject at your fingertips. The current generation has witnessed a new trend of 'foodology' through blogs, restaurant reviews, online courses etc. In fact, you can book a table in a restaurant through the internet through a simple click. It is hard to imagine our world today without the internet.
Our mothers and grand parents, however, never had the luxury of the internet world as we enjoy today. For them it was a painstaking effort, without any short cuts, to figure out and prepare dishes that have become more or less the signature dish of our families. They also didn't have the luxury of microwaves and other appliance to make cooking a little more convenient. It is majorly because of this that our mothers and grandparents are the true masters of the traditional cuisines and our source of inspiration. One secret ingredient was that all the dishes were made with a lot of love. 
Amrita and I have been so blessed to have the years of experience of our mother(s) at our disposal. We often spend a lot of time in the kitchen together which also strengthens our bonding. 
This simple mutton pasanda recipe has been handed down by Amma in Allahabad to my wonderful wife Amrita. Amma has also handed down to Amrita a big fat register filled with family recipes that she has personally handwritten herself. Its a priceless treasure filled with compilation of decades of tried and tested recipes.  In Amma's cooking there is always a sense of simplicity to everything genius she creates. We decided to give it a try at our Kolkata Food Bloggers 1st Birthday Party celebrations which was enjoyed by everyone.

Ingredients : Serves 2-3
  • 1/2 kg Mutton Parcha from Raan (Ask your meat vendor to make parcha or thin strips from the meat. Ensure that there are no fat portions in the meat. Parcha is made by beating up the strip of meat)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 50 gms thick curd
  • 2 tbsp grated raw papaya
  • 4 medium sized onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp besan/gram flour
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 laung/cloves
  • 2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies, deseeded
  • 1" piece of dalchini/cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 golmirch/black peppercorn
  • mint leaves 
  • onion rings
Dry roast all the ingredients under the masala section and grind them finely. 
Wash the mutton and marinate with curd, grated raw papaya, ginger garlic paste, salt and the ground masala. Keep it aside for 1-2 hours or as long as possible(even overnight).

Peel and cut the onion in half. Slice them in cross section as shown below. This helps the sliced onions to break up easily for frying. 

Heat oil in a karahi/deep pan and fry the sliced onions until their are golden brown. Drain on a paper napkin and keep aside.

Heat oil in the same vessel and add the marinated mutton. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the fried onions.
Cover and cook in medium heat for 15-20 minutes or till the meat is done. 
Dry roast besan in another pan and add to the mutton and mix well.

Garnish with onion rings and mint leaves.
Served best with plain rice or chapati/parantha.

Happy relishing


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