As soon as we entered the Iti restaurant, we realised the place was 100% Bengali, as they claimed to be. From the manager to the waiting staff, all seemed to hail from West Bengal, and were familiar with their cuisine.
A small and simple place with a seating capacity of barely 15 people, the restaurant prides itself on being more of a take-away joint. So, we did likewise when we decided to pack our lunch for the day. The menu card looked impressive with a range of options in Fish, Chicken, Mutton, Rolls, Kebabs and a few vegetarian options. With dishes like Dhoi Macch, Khenjur Aamsatter Chatni, Potoler Dorma and many others, we realised that the menu was Bengali in every sense; besides they also boasted of many specialties from different regions of Bengal and Bangladesh.
We started off with the Bhetki Fish Finger (`108). It was a welcome change from the regular fish fingers that are served at many restaurants in the city. Made with the fillet of the freshwater Bhetki fish, this dish is a popular appetiser in Bengali cuisine. It was served with mustard sauce and the flavours of black pepper, red chilly and garlic were predominant in the dish. Overall, we gave a thumbs-up to this crispy starter because despite it being deep-fried; it wasn’t greasy to leave our fingers oily or messy.
Next up, we ordered for the mains — the Chicken Dakbangla (`158), the vegetarian Dhokar-Dalna (`98) and steamed rice to accompany it. Inspired by Dak Bungalow cuisine — a combination with influences from the Raj era, this version didn’t exactly meet our expectations. While the leathery roasted texture of the chicken was the first negative; we were also taken aback by the generous amounts of oil that didn’t help us go for seconds. Just another chicken gravy dish in our books. The Dhokar Dalna, which is also a typical Bengali dish, was delicious and put us in a livelier mood. It went well with the steamed rice. Slightly on the spicy side, we liked this simple dish made from Bengal gram (Chana Dal).
Since we were not completely satisfied with the meal, we decided to try out the Mutton Biryani (`188), but it didn’t help their cause. The biryani was ordinary as it failed to appeal to the taste buds like we had expected. It gave off a nice aroma of different spices like cardamom, but without the spiced gravy in between rice layers (which defines a biryani), it appeared more like a Mutton Pulao than a Mutton Biryani. However, we liked that there wasn’t oil oozing out of it. The mutton pieces were cooked well, but that didn’t exactly excite us.
We hoped that the famous Bengali Rosogulla (`44) would end things, sweetly. Sadly, we were in for a disappointment. Unlike the soft round ones we’re used to, this was chewy and lacked the saccharine kick.