Wednesday 9 September 2015

Sindhi Food Festival, Taj Bengal, Kolkata

An invite to a Sindhi Food festival at Taj Bengal, Kolkata, made me sit and wonder about my knowledge of their food. After all I am a Sikh, and Sindh (now in Pakistan) was once a province of undivided Punjab. Therefore, their food must be very similar to ours. At least that's what I thought before I began my quest to understand the intricacies of a cuisine which has influences from the invasions of Mughals, Arabs and Turkhans. 
My early memory of hearing the word Sindhi in relation to food was from my Grandmother which was for a vegetable variation of Kadhi. Punjabi Kadhi is more full bodied with onion and besan Pakodas in it while the Sindhi Kadhi which we used to eat was a lighter version with a variety of vegetables in it. Another dish I grew up knowing as a part of Sindhi food was their delectable breakfast dish called Dal pakwan. I would simply love the crispy pakwans paired less with the dal and more with the tamarind chutney my aunt would serve it with. And who can miss hearing a word or two about their Sai Bhaji. But that was just about it, my knowledge of Sindhi cuisine.
With invites like these it is naturally more of a learning experience for food lovers like us and I was happy to be there representing Kolkata Food Bloggers
The beautiful rural and rustic interiors of Sonargaon, the Indian restaurant at Taj Bengal makes you transport back to a village setting. The walls have been given a mud look, the vessels used are traditional and there is even a faux well which adds to the grand charm of dining there. 

While we waited for Chef Haresh Keswani who is a master in Sindhi cuisine, we were served a light and refreshing drink called Matho which is basically buttermilk with boondi. As I was telling my mom later on, basically a thin liquid version of a boondi raita. Drinks like these are very common in that part basically to beat the harsh heat. 

Out tables were soon adorned with huge and beautiful Thali's which were showcasing the choicest of dishes representing Sindhi food. Sindhi food as we learnt from the chef himself is basically very simple food with minimal spices.
For starters we relished on a simple Sindhi Fish fry and Sanna Pakora which was basically crispy vegetable fritters. 
Our vegetarian fare had stars dishes like the famous Sindhi Kadhi which personally disappointed me as it was nothing like the kadhi I have been eating. Chef Haresh enlightened us by telling that original Sindhi Kadhi is not curd based and is made only with besan. The Sindhi Sai Bhaji was a clear winner as I could see most of us finishing it off from our plates. This was a seemingly simple dal and spinach preparation. Another dish usually cooked as part of homely meals was the Tri dali Dal
Our Non-vegetarian dishes were the Handi Murg which to me was like a very homely cooked onion based Punjabi chicken dish. The Phote bhugal gosht was lamb meat cooked in a rich gravy and flavoured with cardamom. 
To pair the dishes we had Bhuga Chawaran which was rice cooked in caramelized onions giving it that lovely light brown colour. In the bread section we had Koki masale wari which was parantha with Sindhi masala. 
The Tamatan ji chutney (sour tomato chutney) was a lovely accompaniment with the dishes. 
For Desserts, we were served Baata jo Seero which is a broken wheat halwa with assorted nuts. Also served were Nariyal ji mithai and Moong dal halwa

On display were the mainstays of the Sindhi cuisine-dals, papads, wadis, makhane etc

Chef  Haresh Keswani
You can relish Sindhi food at Sonargaon, Taj Bengal as a part of their ongoing festival till the 13th September, 2015 as Lunch and Dinner.  
The vegetarian Thali is priced at Rs 1700/ + taxes
Non vegetarian Thali at Rs 2100/ + taxes
Sea Food Thali at Rs 2400/ + taxes



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