Friday, November 18 2016, 05:09:40
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Drishti Bodhraj Premprakashi

JWB Blogger

JWB Munches On The Flavours Of Bengal At The Bengali Binge Festival

  • JWB Post
  •  September 11, 2016


Before I start, I have a little disclaimer.

All the foods plated below are absolutely delicious. There is a definite resemblance to authentic homemade Bengali food. Drooling and feeling hungry by the end of this blog is purely coincidental.  

My third visit to The Lalit, Jaipur was apparently the first time I ever ate there. I walked in ready to try out Bengali cuisine at the ‘Bengali Binge’ Festival held at Baluchi, The Lalit.

Pallav and I walked into Baluchi feeling rather nervous because we had no idea what was in store for us, considering we were both vegetarians, and Bengali food is mostly non-vegetarian.

One drawback was that my Bengali food vocabulary is limited to Rosgolla, Jhalmuri and Macher Jhol (Thank you, Sawan Dutta). We joined Chef Sahadeb Kamila from The Lalit Great Eastern and Chef Jassi Bindra from the Lalit group who told us more about the food.

“You will find a lot of potatoes in Bengali food,” said Chef Jassi. “Since the times of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Bengal, potatoes were common in the diet. They are used to add volume to the food. Even if you look at Bengali Biryanis, you will see that potatoes and eggs are definitely used in them.”

*Quickly flips through history books*

Chef Sahadeb then took over, telling us about the chutneys that were served. There were four varieties: tomato chutney, date chutney, plastic chutney (made of dry papaya) and kasundi (mustard paste). I felt like I had heard the name Kasundi before. It made me feel proud that I had paid attention to what the chefs said while I used to watch Masterchef, haha! I think I got a little distracted there. Did I just hear someone say plastic chutney?!

“It is called Plastic Chutney because the chewing on the papaya in the chutney gives you the feel that you’re eating plastic. Don’t worry; it doesn’t taste like plastic,” he said laughing.

I took the opportunity to ask Chef Sahadeb about the cuisine of Bengal. “What would you say is the most common ingredient used in Bengali food?” I asked. “Definitely mustard. Be it in the form of seeds, paste or oil. Mustard is one of the key ingredients in Bengali food,” he replied.

Chef Sahadev Kamila

Soon after, I started to socialize with my fellow journalists, most of whom, were lucky to be meat-eaters. I was beyond relieved after knowing that there was a vegetarian menu as well. The non-vegetarian menu included the use of Hilsa and Betki, two of the most well-known fish varieties used in Bengali cuisine. Had I been a non-vegetarian, I would have definitely tried the Ilish Macher Jhol and Betki Maach Bhaja. The Ilish Macher Jhol is made with Hilsa in mustard and the Betki Maach Bhaja is made of Betki marinated with onion and coriander.

Ilish Macher Jhol

Since I couldn’t eat any meat, I hopefully stared at my plate as I was being served. The first thing to appear on my plate was Beguni along with a Beetroot Chop. The Beguni was a long eggplant pakoda garnished with onion seeds and the Beetroot Chop was a delicious fritter made of beetroot and peanuts. Along with it, I was given a delicious cup of Beler Shorbot (Am I the only one reading this with the Bengali accent?) which was a drink made of stone apple or bel with a hint of rose. The rose was definitely the winner in the drink.

I then went on to take a bite of the nirvana placed on my plate. The Beguni reminded me of the mirchi pakodas my mom makes at home. But then, they were supposed to taste like homemade food as Chef Sahadeb had told us. As for the beetroot chop, I didn’t even eat it. I inhaled it. It was so gooooooooddd!!!

(L-R) Beetroot Chop and Beguni

After I cleared my plate, the next course was ready. On my plate I had Shorshe Dharosh, Aloo Jhinge Posto, Luchi and Ghee Bhat. The Shorshe Dharosh, I would say, is my favourite out of the main course. It was fried ladyfinger cooked in mustard paste. I had to control myself from moaning at the amazing taste of the green and yellow combo. It went well with the Luchi which was a maida puri, kinda like a tiny version of a bhatura. I know I’ve said this many times before, but, what’s a diet? Sorry, I just had to say that. [Insert monkey emoji]

Honestly, I did not want to eat the next thing on my plate. ‘Why?’ You may ask. Because I did not want to spoil how it looked. It was the Aloo Jhinge Posto which was a dish made from potatoes, rich gourd (turai) and poppy seeds. The potatoes were cut into perfect cubes. Even though I tried to cut it carefully, I ended up stabbing it. I’m sorry, potato! Jokes apart, the Aloo Jhinge Posto was perfect. Even though I am a huge fan of hot and spicy food, the subtle flavours in the Posto had stolen my heart. It seemed as if the Posto had found its perfect partner in the Ghee Bhat which was a simple dish of perfectly cooked Basmati rice with ghee.

Following the main course, dessert was brought in. By then, I couldn’t even take another bite. We were served a bowl of Mishti Doi that was hung curd sweetened with jaggery aka gudd. To the untrained eye, it might look like rabdi kulfi, but it definitely tasted better than rabdi. This was my first time trying Mishti Doi and I have to say that it wasn’t bad.

“Chef, do you make any fusions with Mishti Doi? It was so good!” I asked Chef Jassi.

Chef Jassi Bindra

“Definitely. We’ve done many variations. We’ve caramelized it, substituted it with mascarpone cheese and even made a cheesecake version of it,” he said with a smile.

Cheesecake? CHEESECAKE?! Let me have it, please!

JK, JK, I had no place in my tummy.

Before leaving, Chef Jassi gifted us a tiny matki of Rosgolla. With a rounder belly, Pallav and I left the elegant hotel in hope to return soon.

With that said, I made it to the office, managing to walk after both a scrumptious meal and a hard day at the gym.

“Oh, my god! I am so full. I cannot eat another bite!” I said.

Meanwhile, Vinod Bhaiya came out serving Rosgollas to everyone.

“Didi, will you have some?” He asked.



Anyway, I’m definitely coming back for the Shorshe Dharosh. The festival will go on until the 18th of September. Go try it out!

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