City bloggers Madhushree and Debjani host a celebration of Bengali food at Chilekotha

Two bloggers rustle up an elaborate menu with rare Bengali dishes for a festival at Chilekotha  
Non-veg thali
Non-veg thali

Are you one of those who yearn for the exotic yet traditional homemade Bengali dishes? Perhaps the kind your grandmother or mother used to rustle up at leisure? Then there’s some good news for you. Seasoned city bloggers Madhushree Basu Roy and Debjani Chatterjee Alam — who have invested years perfecting those precious Bengali recipes — have drawn up an exhaustive list of exquisite Bengali dishes that will be available for two weeks at Bengali fusion diner Chilekotha starting from July 15. 

<em>Food bloggers Madhushree Roy and Debjani Chatterjee Alam</em>
Food bloggers Madhushree Roy and Debjani Chatterjee Alam

The 17-day festival called Paat Pere will be celebrating the rare and nearly-forgotten items from both sides of Bengal. Besides elaborate vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, there will be an Ilish Thali and to the great reprieve of parents, a kid’s special thali too. If you don’t want to go for the enormous platter, there’s an a la carte menu too. 

<em>Ilish Thali</em>
Ilish Thali

“These dishes are something that most of us will relate to since they all taste as good as homemade food,” says Debjani, about the spread that they have laid out. Madhushree, who has curated the veg thali, apart from a few nonveg dishes, has retained the authenticity of the veg items by abstaining from using onion or garlic while cooking. The Bangal Borir Borar Shukto had a bitter aftertaste, coming from the Kolmi greens, which is distinctly different from the bitter gourd that’s such an integral part of a typical Bengali Shukto. “I got this recipe from my grandmother, who hails from Bangladesh’s Rajshahi district,” says Madhushree. 

<em>Veg Thali</em>
Veg Thali

The sabjir paturi too will remind you so much of the bati chorchori (mixed veggies marinated with mustard and a hint of oil and fresh spices and steamed) cooked at home and goes perfectly well with the aromatic Tulaipanji rice, a rare breed of paddy from North Bengal. The non-veg thali too has some lip-smacking entrées, with the Macher Dimer Torkari (rohu fish egg scramble cooked to perfection with potatoes and Bengali spices), Niramish Mansho (a mutton delicacy cooked with veg spices including fresh curd, asafoetida, cumin powder) and Chingri Makha (shrimps mixed with mustard, coconut, onion and green chillies) taking the cake. 

<em>Ishpecial Hansher mangsho</em>
Ishpecial Hansher mangsho

We couldn’t help but gorge on a couple of hilsa dishes despite bursting at the seams. The Laupatay Ilish Paturi or Smoked Hilsa wrapped in gourd leaf was great to taste and we loved the smoky taste of the edible leaf that went well with the thoroughly marinated fish. However, it was Ilisher Panikhola, a favourite in Bangladesh that reigned supreme with its subtle yet assertive notes. Never before did we taste an ilish cooked with onions, where the aroma of the fish superseded the pungent smell of onions. 

<em>Bhekti Stew</em>
Bhekti Stew

The Ishpecial Hansher Mangsho is a must-try from the menu — we relished the tender duck meat in a gravy of freshly ground spices. We ended the regal treat with equally delicious desserts — Daab Rasamalai and Mishti Doi Cheesecake, the latter a clever rendition by Debjani of a toothsome delight made with the leftover sweetmeats. 

Price for veg thali `480 and non-veg thali Rs 780, ilish thali Rs 920 and kids thali Rs 380. Till July 31. 

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