Festive Banga

  • Aalok Wadhwa
  • India
  • Oct 07, 2011

Kolkata’s streets have always bustled with people from the world over—Jews, Armenians, Europeans, Chinese. This has created a cuisine unique to the city. And the one restaurant that succeeds in recreating the magic of Kolkata, is Love and Mustard. Situated in the Galleria market, it has a cozy homely setting, and strains of melodious Bangla songs waft in the air. “I started this restaurant to give fellow foodies the true taste of Kolkata, which is about much more than just Bengali cuisine,” says Chef Meghna Singh. 

Truly, there are interestingly diverse tastes to discover here. 

Take mutton chop (Rs 155). Of Dutch origin, this popular Kolkata street food is a wonderful mix of ground mutton and potatoes, with whole spices and onions, breaded and fried. Coming from Anglo-Indian homes, the devilled egg (Rs 95) is a hard-boiled egg coated with kheema, and fried to perfection. The mutton rezala (Rs 255) is a delicacy from Bangladesh. A seemingly simple dish, the mutton is slow cooked in curd, saffron, whole spices and milk making for a texture that melts in the mouth.

The adventure in diversity continues. On the menu are two Kolkata masterpieces, part of the culinary legacy of Wajid Ali Shah, a gourmet and the last nawab of Awadh. The Chelo kabab (Rs 275) is a clear manifestation of the Persian influence on Kolkata. This wholesome dish comprises chicken shish kababs, shashlik, onions, bell peppers and saffron rice, topped with a fried egg. It is a gentle dish, and a meal in itself. 

Interestingly, the nawab’s exile by the British in 1856 created the Kolkata mutton biryani (Rs 155), which evolved from the Lucknow style biryani. Wajid Ali Shah brought his personal chef with him, who in turn decided to use potatoes instead of meat, due to the nawab’s forced penury. Potatoes have since been the characteristic of Kolkata biryani, though now it also has meat in it. This biryani is much lighter on spices than other biryanis. 

In case you thought Kolkata cuisine was all about fish and meat, Love and Mustard has an extensive vegetarian menu as well. Ghughni (Rs 80), a popular Kolkata street food, has the sweetness of yellow peas, that perfectly compliments the heat of the whole spices and the pungency of the mustard oil, with a crunch provided by bits of fried coconut. Some other delectables include traditional peas kachauri with cholar dal (Rs 105) which has a soft, yielding kachauri with the sweet and spicy taste of the dal; alu posto (potatoes cooked with poppy seeds; Rs 105), patal bhaja (Rs 50), and an extensive Bengali vegetarian thali (Rs 160). 

I end the meal with payesh (Rs 80), a variant of kheer. The use of patali gur or date jaggery, and special gobindobhog rice, (cardamom and milk) creates a very earthy and exotic dessert. 

Love and Mustard is the place to go if you are missing Kolkata. This food will take you back to its by-lanes. For others, the tastes that you discover here may even induce you to visit Kolkata.


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