Culinary journey to Kolkata

We have high regard for the delicious Bengali fare that Rice-N-Curry serves up. Obviously, expectations from their second venture, named after a Kolkata street, were brimming. The verdict? A Rice-N-Curry venture could have been much better.

Special Chicken Biryani. Pics/Ashish Pol 

Kolkata 17 is located at a prime spot in Viman Nagar. On the first floor, its bay windows overlooking the chaotic Dutta Mandir junction, make it an entertaining place to stop and watch the world full of students, veggie vendors and officer-goers rushing by. A date spot, a coffee spot or maybe, even a fine-dine. But, it doesn’t seem to work for Kolkata 17, where the food is served ultra-fast and requires you to concentrate on your plate and not on the entertaining chaos outside.

Mutton Chaanp with Lachcha Paratha
Mutton Chaanp with Lachcha Paratha

Its minimalistic plastic-and-steel furniture and red-and-white walls go with the theme. As does the quick menu featuring Kolkata’s street food specialties — Rolls, Chaanp and Kolkata Biryani. It all sounds delicious and takes us back to our visit to the land of Tagore.

Egg Fish Tandoori Roll
Egg Fish Tandoori Roll

We mutter and muse and finally settle in on an Egg Fish Tandoori Roll (R110) and a simple Alu Roll (R25) to balance it out. They arrive faster than our remembered wait at the Roll-guy in their homeland. Both the wraps are hot, done to a perfect crisp and juicy to bite into. The potato one retains the simple, subtle flavour of the soft, mildly spiced tuber. The fish one is more complex, blending in the flavours of the smoky (though a bit charred) fish with piquant onions and the egg bringing it all together. We would have liked to go stronger on the green chilly factor, for our nose didn’t run like it did in our nostalgic memory of street-food devouring sprees.

Rolls done, we ask for the Mutton Chaanp (R190). This one was as high on oil as we thought it would be and little less delicious than our memory remembered it to be. The two big chunks of meat were well-done with melt-in-your-mouth consistency. The little gravy that they sat in was bright red but not fiery or superlative: a nice combination with the recommended Lachcha Paratha (R20), which too was a respectable crisp one.

Finally, time for the Special Chicken Biryani (R225). Again, a Kolkata specialty, this one arrived super-fast. A mildly chilled boiled egg made us doubt the origin of the dish. That does not translate into stale food so don’t get us wrong.

The biryani itself was laden with chicken, egg and a gorgeous big potato mixed in with a mound of semi-yellow and white rice. If you aren’t in the habit of a non-gravy based biryani, we recommend you order a daal or another gravy to go with it. It came in a huge portion and our Fresh Lime Soda (R20) couldn’t meet the challenge of pushing it all down. Kolkata 17 does decent food, has a staff that’s warmer and more polite than most around Viman Nagar and the service is quick. We wish them well.

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