Food is an integral part of Bengalis – all Bengalis I’ve met, without an exception! It is sometimes interesting to dine with them. They mostly speak of food while eating; of how a certain dish is prepared or what cuisine tastes how and where. They are strictly food-o-holic! And they speak of a variety of dishes which definitely I cannot pronounce let alone remember them. I’ve been amused several times with their capability to discuss food in great detail as we would do a research paper at work. Finally, when they give the finishing touch to the meal with a cup of sugar added to a cup of curd, I slowly get relieved of too much food to my ears and brain 😆
So the time came when I was visiting Kolkatta for the first time; the time to try some Bengali food. When you are in Kolkatta and ask anyone where to get some authentic Bengali food, you shall hear a reply in unison, like the national anthem, ‘Bhojohori Manna‘ for it is ‘the’ best place I’ve read and heard about for Bengali cuisines. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to spend at the restaurant. So we had a quick lunch with only a few Bengali dishes.
It wasn’t a big restaurant as we had imagined. In fact the Indian coffee house seemed a little bigger. Nevertheless, it was quite a comfortable place. 90% of the menu had new names; of course we are talking about Bengali food which isn’t common in other parts of India. It surprises me in a way why they have been confined, in spite of Bongs spread around the country.
Remember, to a Bengali, vegetarians are unique species who aren’t fit to exist, at least if one doesn’t have fish. In fact, it was common to see eat-outs in Kolkatta with serving plates and dishes in the shape of fishes. Check the Bhojohori Manna display board.
So, with the guidance of the friendly service providers, a fish dish was decided first! Potoler Dolma (‘Parwal’ stuffed with delicious fish). Stuffed capsicum and brinjal dishes are known to South Indians, though I wouldn’t call them common enough at homes. Stuffed pointed guard, however, was new. Pointed gourd is a kind of what we call in Tamil as Pudalangai (Kambupudalai), Patolam in Malayalam, Kaadu Padaval in Kannada and Kommu Potla in Telugu. Potoler Dolma is minced fish, stuffed in Pointed Gourd and then cooked in an Onion, Tomato base. It was certainly a new delight to the taste buds.
Daab Chingri was another unique Bengali item in which prawns are cooked in a tender coconut shell along with Bengali spices. At first, I thought the coconut shell was just an attractive way to present the prawns. However, the taste of coconut flesh and water easily give away the secret cooking of the prawns within the coconut.
While side dishes and starters were of wide variety in Bhojohori Manna, it was a little disappointing to see only a handful of rice varieties. With less options, we chose Dhakai Chicken Biryani. It is a Bangladeshi form of chicken biryani. It would have tasted perfect if not for a kind of sweet essence added to it. Well, it is a part of its recipe, yet we weren’t used to even a little of sweetness in biryanis 😥
For a safer side, we ordered one dish we are known to – Chicken Tangri Kabab. It is the well-known chicken legs marinated in tandoori spices and fried. It was as good as we get it in other regions, so nothing special for a mention. That’s why though a starter, it’s listed last.
Though we were in a hurry, we couldn’t close the menu without a Bengali dessert. How can anyone in Kolkatta?! Most of the sweets in the menu were familiar. Well, their sweets are all around the country if not for other dishes. We ordered Mishti Doi and a Rosogolla for the typical Bengali finishing touch – heavenly, without doubt!
The little Bengali food we had cannot do justice to the huge variety of Bengali dishes of Bhojohori Manna. However, for a first experience with Bengali cuisines, it was definitely a great place. The next time you visit Kolkatta, I am sure you will remember this place for a try, well, if you are a non-resident Calcuttan and a non-Bengali.