Kolkata's Sonar Tori celebrates the monsoons with a Hilsa festival
The season of the hilsa is upon us, and there’s no better way to warm up to it than to let one our favourite fine dining restaurants regale us with the most delectably fresh ilish preparations. Sonar Tori’s Sonar Ilish Festival is back with its second edition and has a fantastic curation of hilsa specials. Besides the beloved basics like bhapa (steamed) or bhaja (fried) ilish, the menu also takes a very interesting detour to include some experimental culinary approaches.
The Sonar Ilish Festival started last year when it found a warm reception among gourmands in the city. The second edition, which will commence next week, is all set to up the flavour quotient with some familiar tastes from both sides of the Padma and also some lesser-known recipes. The menu also consists of some very convenient platters, which start from `1,599, while the dishes range between `699 to `799. We dropped in on a weekday afternoon at Sonar Tori and sat down to an extravagantly set-up Bengali platter.
We discovered that the menu aims at exploring the less talked about hilsa preparations, like the Borishaler Sada Ilish, Gondhoraj Ilish, and some very interesting aromatic variations of smoked ilish. We started off with the good ol’ ilish bhaja, served with a smattering of oil, which we used to top our white rice with. The steaming, crispy fried ilish, in all its goodness, can never let you down. Yet the one starter we must talk about is the Ilisher Seekh Kebab, which we rarely find in any other hilsa-focused tastings. The appetiser was a smooth alternative to our usual mutton kebabs, and the tandoor grilled version definitely works in terms of aroma. We were served the sautéed numbers first.
The Medinipuri ilish was the hot and intensely seasoned item we were waiting for, which has a rich peppery gravy. The Kalo Jire Begun Diye Ilisher Jhol (hilsa gravy with cumin and eggplant) stayed true to its curry roots, and we were thrilled to find the familiar relish. The Gondhoraj Ilish was a tropical delicacy, and a summer staple we were hoping to find in the menu. The more surprising numbers like Borishaler Sada Ilish and Gati Kochu Diyae Ilisher Jhol (hilsa curry with jackfruit) were excellent additions to the menu.
The platters can be ideal choices if you plan to treat yourself and your squad, as they also feature some more elaborate preparations. The Sonar Tori Hilsa platter, for example, consists of Ilish Bhaja, Pui Diyae Ilisher Matha (curried hilsa with spinach), the ever-trusty Shorshe Ilish (mustard hilsa) and Ilish Macher Dimer Bhaja (deep-fried hilsa eggs).
The Gota Ilish Platter is the ideal item for a lunch with such authentic flavours. It consists of some Gobindabhog rice, Hilsa Sheek Kebabs, Ilish Bhaja, Ilisher Matha, Shorshe Ilish, Pui Diyae Ilisher Matha, Begun Diyae Ilisher Jhol, Ilish Macher Dimer Bhaja, and Ilish Sandesh.
From July 18 to August 18. Platter priced at Rs 3,999.