My work takes me to all sort of places. Places which you could find on the map or places which have fallen off from the map and are back of beyond. As one travels, one is inundated with variety of cuisines, flavours and smells. Before we reach out to back of beyond, where most of the readers would never go, yours truly visited Kolkata, Chennai , Mumbai and offcourse spent the only day left in the busy week in Delhi.
Reached Kolkata late at night and most of the places were in the process of shutting down, but we discovered a gem, hidden on Hindusthan Road called Bhojohori Manna. I have never had such a lip smacking, wonderful bengali dinner ever in my life till that date. Need I say, complete satisfaction reaching nirvana. Don’t go by the decor, it looks like a fast food joint, the tables and cutlery is nothing to write about but we have come here for only food and nothing else. The food is so yummy that you will loose sense of time and I literally had tears in my eyes. Such wonderful food that we all slurped our plates and not a morsel was left. We started with a wonderful jumbo Betki Paturi;these are small portions of betki liberally pasted with pungent mustard, with a dash of green chilly and steamed in a banana leaf. You dig into a portion, put it in your mouth, wow, a strong aroma and taste plays on your tongue. Its a treat. Next order a big hilsa peti ( stomach portion) with light mustard curry, super jumbo chingri malai curry and Kosha Mangsho ( a mutton preparation in its own oil) with simple plain rice and mango chutney. Beware;the hilsa would have many bones, small and big but the flavour is divine. Keep digging. The prawns come in a coconut shell and the garvy is slightly sweet. I have never ever tasted such a tasty gravy in my life. Just keep crunching the prawns and the flavours of the seas would enthrall you no end. Kosha Mangsho is slightly heavy and I saw natives eating this with luchi. It was a great evening, great food, great people and a satisfying eating experience. There are many Bhojohori Manna’s in Kolkata at various places ( I think 8 or 9). Try them when you visit Kolkata next. They also have a branch at Bangalore.
In Chennai, as you reach Park Sheraton, turn left into a lane and while you go down 400 m, on your left is lovely Benjorang. This is an old place and started as and still continues to be a great Thai eating place. Sophisticated with charming hostess, this place takes your senses away. Each and every dish is delicious. But this time, we had other criterions and desires. So we climbed upstairs to Teppan, their Teppanyaki counters. Again, a live counter no longer excites us, so we sat down on a normal seating and ordered a wonderful Japanese lunch. The Sushi was great and so was Soba noodles and rice. The prawn tempura was exactly done as it should be with just the very right crispiness. I love the omelet squares. So the next time you are in Chennai, pay this joint a visit.
Konkan Cafe at the Taj President, Mumbai is a great eating place for dinner. To avoid confusion, stick to the Thali and order a chaas or a kokum drink. The seafood thali in particular is very delicious and brings all key Konkan ingredients together. It has fried fish, a great fish in coconut curry, sour prawns alongwith dal and a vegeterian dish. They serve those little fries alongwith chutneys and they are yummy to the core. Pick up the fryums or the popadams and dig them into sweet green chutney and place them on your tongue: Instant Nirvana is the word which describes the experience. The appams and neer dosa just takes the thali to the next level. I personally abhor the parottas, they are lathered with butter or ghee and unnecessarily make the whole experience heavier. The appams are light and you could order as much as you want and keep digging in. The fish curry needs a special mention.It is so smooth and rich and light at the same time, it mesmerizes you with the softness of fish and the flavours of embedded curry.
Yeti at Hauz Khaz Village, New Delhi is a unpretentious small joint that is jovial, lively and full of life. You walk down the dusty central lane flanked by designer shops on either side and reach the end of the road. A small staircase on the left hand side takes you to Yeti. As the name suggests, the cuisines is from Himalayas and has treats from Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. The crowd inside jostles for space. More than the food, its the ambience that is eclectic to say the least. The menu is extensive and you might get confused and finally lost. But if you want to try newer cuisines, be adventurous, this place is for you. If you don’t want to experiment and want to stick to basics, try the momos specially the mutton momos. They have an unusually strong flavor, if strong doesn’t appeal to you, stick with chicken or veg momos. Thukpa is wonderful although no patch on the real stuff that you get at Mcleodganj, but in Delhi, its a treat. The Waiwai noodle soup was wonderful. Its a sort of fast food feel ( i have a suspicion that its the same waiwai that you get at the grocery stores). It was really piping steaming hot-the way a soup should be. So if you want a hearty mountainous meal, give a try to Yeti once in a while. You will not regret it.