New menu: Fine diner Sonar Tori serves up lip-smacking dishes of crab, prawn and bekti this winter
Chef Bhaskar Das Gupta never misses a chance to break the stereotype, when it comes to curating a gastronomic experience for gourmands of the city. While most fine diners around the city will be busy serving up authentic European cuisines or Anglo-Indian fusion to celebrate Christmas and usher in the New Year, Dasgupta thought of welcoming 2020 with the timeless allurements of crab, prawns and betki. Aptly named Golda, Kakra ar Khoka Betkir Golpo (‘Stories of prawns, crabs and betki’), this month-long food fiesta at the Bengali fine diner Sonar Tori will present the best culinary experiences from both sides of Bengal.
“Our tastebuds are well-accustomed to the notes of continental seafood, but not many of us are acquainted with local fare available on both sides of Bengal. So, I thought of rustling up some offbeat seafood items this winter,” says Chef Bhaskar of Sonar Tori, located at City Centre I in Salt Lake.
As we chatted about how the same spices can yield distinctly different tastes of the same dish when used differently, Chef Bhaskar is quick to mention that all the Bengali spices used here are roasted and freshly ground at the restaurant’s kitchen. “In fact, I will be visiting Nadia soon for the Kamini Khoi (a softer version of puffed rice) to make Joynagarer Moa (puffed rice balls doused in the goodness of jaggery syrup) for our patrons,” the chef told us, as we sample the Kakrar Khola Pitha, the first dish to arrive at our table.
The boneless paste of spicy crab meat, wrapped in a thin film of rice flour pancake, had all the right hints of spices with a pronounced note of cumin seeds and raisins. A popular savoury pancake in Bangladesh, we relished every bit with the tomato mustard dip. This was followed by a less spicy version of Cox Bazar’s famed chingri cutlet (prawn cutlet). The juicy prawn tucked inside the crusty biscuit coating is a must-try with the tangy mint-tamarind chutney.
But the show-stealer among the starters had to be the Purbhora Kakra with the succulent grated, spicy meat of the crab served in its shell. This intensely flavoured starter, garnished with a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese and the interplay of cumin, coriander and red chilli, requires no condiment to have it with, and is an easy winner.
With our tummies almost full, we judiciously avoided the rice for the main course, and simply tasted the standalone dishes. The Shankarpuri Kankra (crab meat cooked in a spicy gravy in the beach area of Shankarpur) was impressive and successfully managed to transport us to the balmy sea beaches of Bengal, where this delicious preparation is served with a plate of steaming hot white rice. The coconut, poppy seeds and mustard pastes in the curry were in the right proportions, and it was so well-cooked that the crab required only a little pressure to crack.
The Kumro Patai Mora Chingri Bhapa (steamed prawns marinated with mustard and coconut and wrapped in pumpkin leaves) was noteworthy too, with the juicy textured leaf adding a distinct flavour of its own to the pungent, mustard-soaked prawns.
Festival on till January 20.
Price for two: Rs1,200 (AI).