Savour the taste of feudal Bengal with a Rajbari Thali at The Park's Saffron, Kolkata
The obsessions of an average middle class, educated Bengali are mainly three -- adda (endless chat), Tagore and food, not necessarily in that order. At the end of the day nothing comforts a Bengali more than Bangali ranna (Bengali cuisine) comprising the quintessential kosha mangsho (spicy mutton curry), malai chingri (prawns made with coconut milk) and mishti (sweets), no matter how cosmopolitan he or she is. It is precisely this sentiment that The Park’s Saffron, a multicuisine diner, plans to capitalise on with its new offering The Rajbari Thali.
“With everyone busy during the weekdays, Sundays have become an occasion for any average Bengali to pamper oneself and indulge a little more. So, we thought of offering a celebratory meal to please the Bengali in you,” says director, food production of The Park, chef Sharad Dewan.
He reveals that the menu is also targeted towards foreigners, who do not often get the right ambience, or hygiene standards, when they check out authentic Bengali cuisine in the city. “In Kolkata there is no five-star space serving authentic traditional Bengali food. We want to exploit that space,” he adds, informing that plans are on to turn Saffron into a diner serving only authentic Bengali dishes after renovations in the coming months.
So, introducing a Bengali Thali on Sundays seems to be a pragmatic decision to test waters. We were welcomed with the typical aam panna (mango sherbet) , which had just the perfect balance between sweet and sour, followed by beguni (egg plant fritters) and chicken cutlet.
The gastronomic journey continued with the traditional shukto, a bitter and pungent broth of vegetables simmered in milk and served with steamed kamini atap rice, followed by mangsho kasha (typical Bengali spicy mutton curry), and bekti paturi (bekti fish marinated with mustard sauce and steamed in banana leaf).
Dewan says that the dishes served at Saffron tastes unique since the ingredients used are all natural. “The spices are freshly ground in mortar and pestle, and the ghee that we use is bought from a particular shop that sells authentic natural products. We never use canned coconut milk for prawn preparations and that’s what makes the difference,” explains Dewan.
Dewan has sourced the recipes from old Bengali zamindari households to make the dishes more authentic and has employed third generation traditional cooks to churn out the appetizing platter. To make the treat look royal indeed, all the dishes are served on bell metal utensilsin a traditional Bengali style.
The chingri malai curry (prawn cooked in coconut milk) was indeed succulent and dripping with coconut milk. The vegetarian dishes such as narkel diye cholar dal, (gram pulse cooked with coconut) and dhokar dalna, (fried chana daal cake) were also equally delectable. Not too sweet, neither too sour, the mango chutney was really inviting.
We wrapped up our lunch on a sweet note with gobindo bhog chaler payesh, pantua and jol bhora sandesh.
If you don’t feel like cooking on a sultry Sunday afternoon and yet experience the royal Bengali cuisines, head for Saffron and lose yourself in the spread.
What: Rajbari Thali
Where: Saffron, The Park, Kolkata
When: Every Sunday, lunch from 12.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. and dinner from 7.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.
Price: Rs 1,495 (Non-veg / Veg) and Rs 1,695 (including prawns)