Relish authentic Bengali food in Vashi
ITI in Navi Mumbai offers a slice of authentic Bengali cuisine until the last bite. Enjoy the culinary joyride in the first of our two-part series on Mumbai's much-loved hangouts that celebrate food from this region
We could have been seated in an eatery in downtown Kolkata. The instrumental version of Purano Shei Diner Kotha, a popular Rabindra Sangeet (Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry converted into music) was fused with cheery voices greeting each other, as the whiff of Chingri (Prawn) Malai Curry filled the air. The simple décor with Chandmalas (traditional Bengali decor made of thermacol and tinsel) on its pillars, and E TV Bangla channel being played inside the three-storey structure, added to the vibe. Soon, a waiter welcomed us breaking into Bangla in a flash. We were served with complimentary staples in no time. This included the traditional Bengali Nimki (a popular salty, fried Bengali snack flavoured with black cumin seed) and a small portion of Maankochu Bata (Taro Root paste).
The Bangladeshi-style Mutton Rezala was influenced by the Mughal-style cooking. Pics/Suprita Mitter
After we polished it off, the mains were on our radar. We plumbed for the Postor Boda (Rs 168), which is a pakoda made from poppy seeds, and Mutton Rezala (Rs 298), a meat-based curry in curd, flavoured with cardamom, cloves, garlic, ginger and chillies. The dish was influenced by Mughal-style cooking but soon became popular in Bangladesh and Kolkata. We also ordered for the Barisaler Illish Shorshe (Rs 498), a Hilsa fish, Bangladeshi-style preparation in mustard gravy, and Dhokar Dalna (Rs 118), which are lightly fried, spiced lentil cakes simmered in a gravy made with tomatoes and ginger, spiced with cumin and coriander. To complement these dishes, we requested for steamed rice.
Postor Boda is a pakoda made from poppy seeds
The Postor Boda and the Mutton Rezala, which is also one of the restaurant's specialties, were excellent and authentic to the core. The Barisaler Illish Shorshe left a lot to be desired, while the Dhokar Dalna was top-class. For our sweet endings we wiped off the Mishti Doi (Rs 38) while the complimentary Paan Patar sherbat (a betel leaf drink) ensured our Bengali joyride was satisfying till the end.
Iti, in Bengali, means the end, and is typically used as a sign-off. "We decided to call the place Iti because according to us, the search for good affordable Bengali food ends here. It is the final destination for authentic Bengali cuisine," says Purnendu Bose, who checks if we are being tended to at our table. Originally from Kolkata, Bose moved to Mumbai when he applied for a job in the media. He was a fan of popular Bengali chain Bhojohori Manna, and on his frequent work visits to Kolkata, would eat at their major branches. Each time he returned to Mumbai from these trips, he was reminded of the fact that Mumbai lacked affordable eateries for Bengali food. Despite no prior experience in the hospitality business, he decided to take the plunge.
"We started Iti for the floating Bengali population who miss home food. We have patrons who come from all over Mumbai, 95% of whom are Bengalis. Our staff, including chefs and waiters, are Bengali. At times, our staff finds it difficult to converse in others languages like Hindi," he shares.
Iti’s fish and special ingredients, like Mankochu and Gandhoraj Lebu, are flown down from Bengal. "We didn’t want Iti to be just another restaurant. We wanted it to be a Bengali experience", he reminds us.
Open: 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm, 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm
At: SS-4/278, Sector No 2, opposite MSEB Office, MGM Hospital Lane, Vashi.
Call: 9821698200/ 9821698500
Iti didn’t know we were there. the guide reviews anonymously and pays for its meals