Chhanda Dutt's popular Burmese pop-up is back on March 22
Chanda Dutt’s seasonal authentic Burmese food pop-ups are perhaps the best recurring culinary event in the city, and we bet she knows it too. Which is why, she’s back with a spring pop-up at the good ol’ Beniapukur address, and is even set to serve some brand new delicacies. Dutt, who used to own the successful Golpark Burmese eatery Chanda's Khaukswey, had to close up temporarily, as it was too small; she is now on the lookout for a new space for the same. Meanwhile, you can taste some of her bona fide Burmese delicacies at the upcoming pop-up to be held on March 22, at 7 pm.
“The new items to be introduced are coconut-rice with red n gold chicken curry, then there’s the fish rice or nga htamin, pork cooked with raw mango, raw tamarind and sour gooseberry/ amloki, string bean salad. The old favourites chicken khaukswey, Balachaung and Nga-pi chet ( fish paste with tomato) will be there too,” Chanda tells us. The cuisinier and former thespian, has spent a lot of her childhood in Myanmar and reveals that the culinary traditions were kept alive in her family, even after they left the country.
“After leaving Burma my mother and aunts would cook many of our favourite Burmese dishes regularly. In fact, after I got married I started missing the kind of food we grew up with. I would often take it for granted, thinking that "oh ma is there. She will provide them!” I eventually realised that now ma is in her nineties and I cannot bully her into cooking for us. I started to take interest in the nitty gritty of perfecting the dishes which I serve.” adds Chanda, who would often pack her homemade Burmese dishes for her colleagues at the school where she used to work as an English teacher. She tells us that after some resounding encouragement from her peers, she thought about opening up a restaurant, and did her first pop-up as an experiment.
Dutt’s winter popups which are held around Christmas are hugely popular. The upcoming spring pop-up dinner is a pre-booked event, and would cost you Rs 1,000 per head. And if you’ve never been to one of her pop-ups, you should know that all of the customers from Chanda’s first ever pop-up never stopped coming back. “My first ever pop-up despite my apprehension, went off pretty well! It was a test of nerves I must say. But somehow I knew that the food would be a hit. People who came on that were mostly unknown guests, but they went home happy. We had around 80 guests and almost all of them came back as repeat customers and continue to do so,” Chanda recalls.
Kolkata’s gastro-scape never really did replace the chilli chicken and noodles, but Chanda hopes the diverse Burmese cuisine gets recognized as easy comfort food. “Burmese cuisine is not just khaukswey, people should be given a chance to explore more of the nation's dishes. Kolkatans are very adventurous and are willing to spend on new eateries and food and I know for sure very soon chow and chilly chicken will be replaced by khaukswey!” adds the expert.
Chanda’s Spring Pop-Up, 22 March, 7 pm at 40, Beniapukur Lane, Kolkata