Bringing us a bit of Bengal
A perfectly steamed bhetki to kickstart a Bengali dinner, which concludes with a date jaggery ice cream you'd find nowhere other than in Kolkata. A meal at 25 Parganas is as good as one in the City of Joy, finds Moeena Halim
Shelves lined with paperbacks authored by Bengalis, an old gramophone coupled with LPs, and Rabindrasangeet playing softly in the background — the ambiance at Sahara Star’s newly launched fine-dining restaurant, 25 Parganas, is nostalgically Bengali. However, the chic black and white interiors add a contemporary feel to the restaurant.
Sahara Star’s latest restaurant, 25 Parganas, is nostalgically Bengali. Pics/Moeena Halim
Soon after we settle ourselves onto a table for two, our server politely greets my dinner companion and me for the night. But he isn’t the only one to ask after us and enquire about our meal.
Watching us pore over the menu, most of which is in Bengali, he offers some much-needed assistance. He urges us to order the Posto Bhetki Bhapa (Rs 900), even he though he warns us we’d have to wait longer than usual. We snack on the complimentary fried potato sticks, the sweet-sour tomato chutney and kasundi in the meantime, and we know we’ve made the right choice as soon as the waiter brings over the bamboo steamer and lifts the lid to serve us. A bite of the mild melt-in-the-mouth freshwater fish fillets complemented by a kasundi marinade tells us the taste evenly matched its fragrance.
Nolen Gurer Ice Cream
With fish checked off our Bengali food wish list, we proceed to the equally classic mutton preparation, Mangshor Jhol (Rs 900). My rice-favouring companion opts for a special grain our server recommends — the Gobindobhog Chaal (Rs 350). The rice is fragrant and delicious with the slightly salty bone marrow and potato curry. But I enjoy it with the deep-fried Luchi (puris) (Rs 200) just a little bit more. A gratis platter of shallow fried brinjal, banana, potato and pumpkin rounds off our second course perfectly.
Deciding to skip the usual suspects for dessert, we opt for the Nolen Gurer Ice Cream (Rs 200). We are so busy savouring the flavour of the date palm jaggery preparation brought in from Kolkata, that we decide to overlook the crystallised bits. If there’s one thing that would make us want to return to 25 Parganas, it has to be that ice cream.
At: Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Domestic Airport, Santacruz East
Food: Authentically Bengali
Ambiance: Relaxed but elegant
Price: Rs 1,200 without alcohol