February 3, 2019

Review: Amritsari Express



Address: Amritsari Express
South City Mall,
375Prince Anwar Shah Road
Kolkata

One of the most perquisite advantages that the modern era offers us is a Shopping Mall – a place to live up to a shopper’s dream to indulge in an exquisite utopia. Apart from exhibiting the renowned fashion brand chains and bringing the bare necessary living essentials under one roof, the main attraction is always the junctions where the food meets the foodies. The Food court is proliferating with high demand as this one place brings up the flavours from different region, encompassing a diverse array of cultures, countries and cuisines. Recently, after almost a decade, the food court of South City Mall, Kolkata, is refurbished and reopened with new offerings.
Chur Chur Parantha with Dal Makhani and Onion Salad
It’s been just a month and half that not all but few food stalls in the Food Court of South City Mall, Kolkata, have opened. Apart from the well known food joint chains, few stalls strive to partake the regional cuisine of India. One such is Amritsari Express. As the name suggests, there is no need to explain what cuisine is on offer.  They vouch to bring on plate the authentic Punjabi flavours picking up the most praised dishes that a Punjabi cuisine is respected for. The menu offers a plethora of pure vegetarian varieties of Paranthas/ Stuffed Paranthas with lip-smacking sides, Naan and Kulcha platters, Biriyani and rice combos, Flavoured lassis and many more.
Paneer Kulcha


The dishes, we tried, were Chur Chur Parantha along with Dal Makhani and Onion Salad,  Aloo PyaNj Kulcha with Rajama Curry and Onion Salad and Paneer Kulcha with Butter paneer and salad. The ghee slathered Paranthas/Kulchas are well made, very filling, well stuffed and tasty. The curries were silky smooth which were drown out by the flavours of nose prickling aroma. It flooded all my senses with heady froth of perfect blending of all spices that a Punjabi dish called for.


Here I should correct myself a bit. When people question about the authentic taste of a dish belongs to a particular cuisine, it becomes too judgmental. Like here, I have never been to Punjab or can’t vouch that I know exactly how authentically a Punjabi Dal Makhani or Rajma curry should taste. But I really rely on my sensual coherence that has already cooked up the dish in my mind with all the experiences, I have gathered so far. And if my taste bud approves, my heart smiles back with satiation. Here the dishes from Amritsari  Express have made no exception. Really enjoyed their food which are perfect pinch to value money. 

Specially to mention about their flavoured Lassis. Five types of chilled Lassis were served - Mango Lassi, Kesar Lassi, Strawberry Lassi, Rose Lassi and Sweet Lassi. It is so difficult to mention which one tasted better than the other. All were equally tasted good and won over my quenched soul - thick and perfectly balanced.

Happy to mention that Kolkata has one more destination to head ahead to enjoy pure vegetarian Punjabi meal. Food Plazas or Food courts always stay near to my heart. This is one place that you will never get bored trying out the same menu. So many food stalls with so many varieties, will always keep your taste bud changing. A place to succumb yourself with your near ones and let the flavours to seduce you. 
Happy Eating and Happy Blogging.





[Disclaimer: This is not a paid review but an invited on. Whatever experience got plated was served honestly.]

January 15, 2019

Book review: Bestseller by Ahmed Faiyaz

Title: Bestseller
Author: Ahmed Faiyaz
Published by: Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd 2018
Price: Rs. 295
Pages: 190
Rate: 4/5
It took me a while to reconcile that the novel itself was called “Bestseller”. First the title and then the blurb made me more inquisitive to swallow down the pages. A story revolving around the Publishing house Kalim, seaming a bunch of captivating characters, was so well narrated and portrayed that compelled me to finish the book at one go.  

The blurb reads:
Akshay Saxena, an out of work editor of a defunct literary magazine in the UK, is told to move to India for a year to help shore up the value of Kalim, an ailing Indian publisher. Akshay finds himself in a job where he has to do the impossible. Angus Lee, the new owner of Thomson Lee Books, wants at least five bestsellers in the coming year, failing which the business would be wound up. He has to find a way of making a success out of books he would never publish or would never even read. To complicate things further, he has to contend with motley crew of has-beens and misfits working for the publishing house as well as wannabe writers, dealing with their follies and derisive tactics, and battle his own affections for Zorah Kalim, the impulsive daughter of his former boss. Will he succeed in bringing out that one ‘bestseller’ from his publishing house? And what about his own life and love in office? Find out in this riveting read. ”

Bestseller in simple term was the story of Akshay Mathur’s struggle to sustain with the protocol of the moribund publishing house and his own code of conducts. The time span of 367 days stated how a sinking publishing house restored to a summit that actually called success. I found two protagonists who eventually and parallelly faced the same fate – Akshay Mathur and the Publishing house Kalim. Both of their lives were compromised, burdened  and dimming. Akshay was deep in debt and sneaked an escape from UK to look for a better life in Kalim – the publishing house in India. His past story did not gloriously scream but told that he was a divorcee. His honest approach towards an editorial’s job was in stake, all beamed up in the novel to raise a question in the minds of the reader- what future was waiting for Akhshay and the publishing house. On the other hand the Publishing House Kalim was almost on the verge of closing down. How Akshay and the Publishing House Kalim unwantedly tied up their future with the prim and pompously glittered world of celebrities highlighting their lifestyle, played a crucial role here. Fake and false fame was actually the other side of the picture that often success is mistaken to – Ahmed sarcastically and humorously presented it in novel. It was a captivating story that heralded to engage its reader without taking any break. The characters were portrayed in such a skilful manner that they came almost alive as the story developed. The relationship between Zorah (Daughter of Iqbal Kalim, the founder of Kalim publishing house) and Akshay started with a quick note where the hunger of the body spoke first but then it ended up in a true love story. All the characters – Sita, Tarun, Anya Malik, Roshan Khan, Angus Lee, Mr. Samuel, would make you feel that they live in your neighbourhood and you met them on and off. 

I must appreciate the simple colourful and interesting book cover that might attract the readers at fist glance. A publishing house or an editor’s job always looks luring and coveting. But we hardly get a glimpse of the inside story of these places. The pressure, the politics, the fame game everything was narrated in this book with minute detail. While reading the book I almost became a part of the lives of Kalim. Ahmed’s writing skill is utterly commendable for the easy and simple flowing language. He knows how to hold a grip to keep thoroughly engage his readers from the beginning till the end. The book really didn’t fail me except one error. In the book it was mentioned that Tamas was written by Bapsi Sidwa where Tamas was written by Bhishm Sahni. Coming back after 6 years, Ahmed Faiyaz truely won the heart of the readers once again and did a commendable job I must say.

December 4, 2018

Book review : Saudade by Shreen Vaid


“ There’s a word that we Brazilians love to use to convey raw emotions, feelings such as those that resonate in the depths of my being right now – Saudade, english doesn’t actually have a correct interpretation of it. And before anyone misinterprets it as a simple ‘ miss you’, let me tell you that it’s much more than that. It is a bitter-sweet feeling – bitter for missing someone and sweet for the happiness and gratitude for having experienced their love. It describes your experience of Sahir’s absence in every moment of your life since his demise. Saudade is a recognition of all the emotions he brought out in you, calling you to live by his example. The closet explanation in English is perhaps ‘ the love that remains. ‘ “
                                                                                         Saudade By Shreen Vaid (Page : 141)

The novel Saudade is a portrayal of an intense feeling of loss and then how the protagonists win over the purgatory feeling to celebrate the bond of love. It is a story of intensified love and bonding between the siblings and the exultation of true friendship. The book starts with a strong emotional upheaval of Samarah who is trying to keep a balance between the upbringing of an almost 4 years old Dhiraj and her afflictive process of coping with her sorrow. Saudade is a gripping story that slowly unfolds the relationships in-between the characters. The relationship between Samarah, Ahil, Sahir and Dhiraj opens up with synchronisation. Every page will keep you baffled with the sentimental ups and downs that might tear one’s heart with a deep hollow of melancholy.  The main harmony of the book is the suspense to know more about the characters, the relationship they share with each other and the facts which lead to endless speculations. It actually works as a wonder to engage the readers to flip through the pages. Love, hate, anger can all build up from a feeling of loss, can make people shattered from the every corner of life and can push to an edge from where one can’t find out a way to return back. Unless one day, an angel appears in a disguise of a friend from the pages of past memory and works as a catalyst to show the true faces and a streak of hope that makes one to regain the strength to live and to live for others. The real hero of the novel is actually Thiago Dantas who is a very well balanced, sensitive, matured person who knows how to tackle a worst situation. He is the one who has changed the meandering way of the story to an enlightened way. Someone might not like the too much emotionally shattered character of Samarah the protagonist or the agony of Ahil that turned him into a heartless giant. But to be more in life this actually happens and people wait for miracles to step back to the normal life that they urge for ages.

Shreen Vaid’s valiant writing skill will touch the heart of the readers. The novel is actually a portrayal of the psychological melancholy with its negative and positive sides. It is a story about loss and gain. It is a story of dispersing and then uniting again. Strong and a well gripped writing skill of the writer made it a successful debut novel.

November 20, 2018

Book Review : Ambling Indian diaries by Aina Rao



Two main things attract book lovers before delving deep in a book. The first impression catches one's eyes is the cover and the other is the blurb. The “Ambling Indian Diaries” on the first go will give an impressive sight and insight after looking at the cover and reading the blurb as well. The cover itself tells the story or rather the elements that worked as the fundamental growth to weave the story. The book is a phenomenally consideration of modern India that is satirically projected through the experiences of an ‘aam aurat’ with  the tinge of humour and wit. 

The book doesn’t have a proper story that starts with this or end with that, rather it is a verbally picturesque scenario that India is recently more vocal and rich with the facts and the factuals. The book started with a hue of hilarious political glimpse through an interview between the protagonist Aina, who is a reporter in Chunga Times and Chand TV and the Railway Spokesperson Mr. Chugga. The interview is on the launch of Wedding on Wheels (WOWs). The interview session will sheerly give one a bout of laughter and one can so well visualise the perspective that the author ironically  portrayed. Very wittily the author picked up the names, the terms and the incidents that added the sarcastic components well blended. Bollywood plays a very dominating role in the present prospective India. And Aina Rao skilfully depicted the pomp and glory of the society and none the less how ‘Shila ki Jawani’  or ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ actually regulate the lane culture. The book takes a lift more from the views of  an ‘Aam Aurat who ambles the nook and corner of India. While reading the book I felt like reading a news paper that actually covers everything but it has the sense of humour, sarcasm, satire and the irony that will lead you to find out the dual meanings that the parts of the book carry. What interested me more is how well the author picked up the most common topics - ‘can’t leave without’ glares that actually building up the present India. A very minute observation and the precision make the book more versatile.

The blurb speaks: “ This unusually take on India offers a never-seen-before view of the country through the eyes of the Ambling Indian – a new generation aam aurat. This delicious mix of laughter, spice and nuggets of reflection to savour, delights the mind. We meet people just like us and experience hilarious happenings through just like us and experience hilarious happenings through the 31 stories woven together with one common thread – India’s journey.” These few lines narrate and  give one the vivid glimpse what the book is all about. But before reading the book one has to be well versed about India. Writing skill of the author will surely won the heart of the readers. To be more precise the author has painstakingly achieved a daunting task in portraying the true faces of present India by satirically leaving few inherent notes to discover.





October 27, 2016

Besan ka Ladoo

Hello All.. Wish you Happy Dipabali. I am blogging after a long time on this space. Hope you all have celebrated grandly Durga Puja this year. The year is all most coming to an end and the festivals for this year are also almost over. This year past in a wink and we are ready to welcome another year. This year I experimented a lot with Indian sweets. For the first time, I made those at home. I have always avoided making sweets at home after coming to India. Because of the availability of so many varieties of delectable sweets around. But now I am becoming more incline to provide mostly homemade foods to my family. Today will share the recipe of Basan ka Ladoo. It came out so tasty which I actually didn't expect. I have adapted the recipe from Amrita's Blog Sweet 'n' Savoury
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup Besan/gram flour
1/2 cup Powdered sugar 
3 tbsp melted Ghee (or a little more if the mixture does not bind)
2 pinches Elaichi/cardamom powder

Method:
1. Take a Kadai and dry roast the besan on low heat till the raw smell goes away. It will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Continuously stir it otherwise it will get burnt.
2. Add melted ghee little by little and keep on stirring. Keep a check that it should not turn into a liquid. So when you see that it has turned into a dough kind of consistency then stop adding ghee. Even if you feel more ghee needed then add. Remember to add always melted ghee. (Please see Note))
3.  Keep stirring and cooking on low heat till you see the mixture binding well and leaving ghee. 
3. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and cardamom powder and mix well.
4. When it is almost cool shape them in round balls and place them in an individual wrapper or place them on a greased plate. 
5. Decorated them as per your creativity and enjoy.
Notes:
After adding ghee if you feel the mixture turned into a semi-liquid mixture, don't worry add more besan little by little to come to the right texture. I have done the same mistake first time. But it came out very tasty.
Happy Diwali


October 7, 2016

Durga Puja never ends without a sweet treat

After shifting over to Kolkata, I have seen a different kind of excitement steaming in the heart of Kolkatans. But for me, though being a Bengali, the craze of Durga Puja was only to visit Mumbai during my student life, as my father used to work there. My sister and I would cross the dates on the calendar and wished to God everyday that the travel date should come in a wink. There was only one excitement - to meet our father, not of the new dresses to buy. And Durga Puja vacation means not only visiting Mumbai but to visit some other places too, as every year our father would plan a surprise trip for us to visit some tourist spots. If we were not travelling anywhere out of Mumbai, and then we would be seen dancing till late night to celebrate Navaratri with the Garva and Dandiya. After moving to USA, Durga Puja turned in to an one/ two days affair. And within this short span of time I had witnessed all the ritual to be done to the T and we, all the Bengalis from that particular place, would enjoy Durga Puja to the brim.  I found a different enthralling experience when we shifted our base to Kolkata. The first thing that came to my notice is buying new clothes long before two to three months from Durga Puja. The detail plan to wear which dress on which day with which ornaments, are something pretty exciting to me. Then the enormous herculean task of making creative Pandals are another side of Durga Puja that attracted me more. 

I often felt awestruck during the Pandal hopping watching and witnessing where the creative minds have reached and how talented people can be. The artisan, the skilled crafts are beyond any description till one witnesses those by his/her own eyes. But any festival can’t be ended without Food and mainly when it is a Bengali Festival the spread has to be an elaborate and royal one. Now a day one can get to see most of the restaurants are offering a flare of traditional Bengali spread during the festive season. Just forget the kitchen and the dining table of your sweet home and enjoy the gluttonous experience of indulging some delectable foods around.

Apart from the sweets what we mostly gorge on the fancy flavorsome Ice creams. Different companies offer different kind of ice creams with different flavours. Bengalis are mainly introduced as fish eaters and mishti lovers, and few ingredients are there that hold the pride of Bengal. One such thing is Nolen Gur. Say it used in sweet or savoury dishes, Nolen Gur has its own character. Nolen gur is a type of jaggery or palm sugar that features in several traditional Bengali desserts. The ice cream, therefore is authentically sweet.  Recently Mother Dairy -a milk and dairy products major, launched the Nolen Gur flavoured ice cream, one of the most loved eastern region speciality. This regional delicacy from the eastern region has been made available in the packaged branded format for the first time, offering consistent taste and flavour as loved by the consumers. The newly launched variant is available in both take home (tubs) and single serve (cups) pack sizes. 




It is easily available in the market in pack sizes of 750ml & 90ml and priced at Rs 150/- & Rs 20/- respectively. 

(This post is part of a campaign)

May 19, 2016

Taj Gateway bringing back the Rajbarir Khawa Dawa

What will be your reaction when you get to taste the season's first Ilish wrapped in banana leaf, steamed with milk, yogurt and mustard that is melting in your mouth or biting on a crispy Fish roll or Macher Kachuri with sada aloo hing morich, or a slow cooked melting in mouth mutton curry that brings back the essence of traditional Bengali cooking when the Mutton got to cook for hours on the faded flame of a Mud made stove!! It is nothing but a delectable journey where stories from the past enchant the atmosphere and unfold the sumptuous spread. Yes, you can experience the essence of  Raj Barir Khawa Dawa through the traditional Bengali dishes curated by Executive Chef Asish Kumar Roy of The Gateway Hotel (Taj). How three hours spent in a wink we (KFBians) hardly realized. Chef Asish patiently explained each and every dish how/why he curated, created and the story behind it. The dishes mostly in the menu are the dishes which are influenced by the foreign invaders and given the authentic Bengali dishes a twist. Attaching below more detail about the event.
"The Rajas or Nawabs were probably the original connoisseurs to wield major influence on Bengali society as well as their food. With their luxurious lifestyles, the rajas took immense interest not only in the foods they ate but also in the way food was prepared. Influenced by famous Rajbaris of West Bengal and in keeping with their culinary traditions, The Gateway Hotel, Kolkata, is set to celebrate “Raj Barir Khawa Dawa” from May 21st onwards.
Historical trends have always influenced food. The influence of Rajbaris at the Raj Barir Khawa Dawa is evident from the different delicacies planned for the festival. The “Gumo-aanch er mangsho” or  meat cooked in slow fire by putting the dying charcoals on top, originated from Murshidabad, and is a classic example of food influenced by the “Dum Cooking”. Bardhaman’s Rajbari has influenced the “Lyangcha”, which is a deep fried sweetmeat dipped in sugar syrup.
The impact of the two centuries of British Rule (1757–1947) over Bengali cuisine can never be overstated. Sovabazar Rajbari, a regular place for evening hang-outs of the British Officials back then, was famous for its “Fish Roll” that had a western touch to it. The Fish Roll features prominently in the Raj Barir Khawa Dawa fest. As do to the Safed Ilish and Lal-Mangsher Pulao from the Cooch-Bihar Rajbari that has Rajasthan leanings.
The Gateway Hotel, Kolkata, will take you back in time as you savour these and other Rajbari delicacies from times gone by. The Raj Barir Khawa Dawa culinary extravaganza will be hosted at the Buzz for Lunch (12:30PM-3:30PM) and Dinner (7:30PM-11:30PM) from May 21, 2016onwards."
Pocket Pinch:
The Dishes will be served as a set menu:
Nonveg: 650/- (INR) to 850/- (INR)
Veg: 550/- (INR) to 750/- (INR)
Fish Roll
Macher Kachuri with sada aloo hing morich

Begun Basanti

Potoler Dorma

Dudh Ilish

Lal Mangsher Polao

Gumo aanch er mangsho

Aam Sandesh
Thank You Kolkata Food Blogger  for the invitation.

May 3, 2016

Narkol Posto Rui (Rohu fish with coconut and poppyseeds)

Quick post with a quick recipe. I love coconut so as anything out of Posto/poppy seeds. I was never a kind of fish lover. But as you grow old your taste buds change too. Now I love eating fish more than any-other non veg items at the same time love trying different kind of fish recipes. This one I made in a hurry but it really came out well. Do try it and let me know how much you liked it.
Ingredients:
Rohu Fish blocks - 5pcs
Poppy Seed - 2 tblsn
Coconut (Scrapped/grated) - 1 cup
Potato - 1 small cut in cubes (optional)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tspn + 1/4 tspn
Salt & Sugar as per taste
Green Chillies - 2- 3
Mustard oil - To fry the fish
Method:
1. Rub 1/2 tspn turmeric and salt to the fish blocks.
2.  Paste the poppy seed and coconut in a smooth paste. You can green chilli to the paste too to enhance the taste more.
3. Heat oil in a Kadai. Fry the fish till it turns light brown. 
4. After taking off all the fish from the kadai, make sure there is only 3/4 tbspn oil is remaining. If you have more in the Kadai then take out the excess oil. If adding potot then you can fry the potota with that excess oil.
5. Add mustard seed in the remaining oil. then the potatoes if adding. fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the poppyeed paste. Add the remianing 1/4 tspn turmeric powder. Stir well for a while (2-3 minutes). Add water (1 cup - See notes). Bring in to boil then add the fish. Add salt and sugar as per taste. Once the pototo is boiled, take it off the gas. Add green chilies and serve with hot rice.
Notes:
1. If you are not adding potato then add 1/2 cup or more water just for cooking the fish and the gravy consistency you want. 
2. You can add curry leaves and coriendar leaves too to enhance the taste more.