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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD

Tasting time

By Kaniska Chakraborty

My lifelong ambition came true. I was called for a food trial. Which basically meant many courses of outstanding food. Heaven on earth.

My chef friend is about to open his signature restaurant, which will have his, well, signature dishes.

My wife and I jumped at the opportunity and promised to be there as soon as we could wrap up business for the day. Smack in the middle of prime South Calcutta, close to Gariahat, is the place. We reached and entered the dining room to be greeted by blonde wooden chairs and tables. The chairs had bright multicoloured cushions providing material comfort.

The room was brightly lit - none of the dim light of fancy places. Two air conditioning machines made us forget the humidity outside.

The man himself came down and greeted us like the old friend that he is. He took us through the day's menu - and interesting take on, in his words, contemporary Bengali cuisine. His cooking exploits are well documented and well reviewed by many worthy people. And we have been eating his creations for close to ten years. So expectations ran high. The Maître 'd asked for my order and I left it to the chef as I have for the last ten years.

I had no clue what he ordered for us.

With a wicked smile he went back to the kitchen. And an unbelievable parade of creativity unfolded in front of us. What came first were two halves of baked crab, in its shells. Nothing unusual there. At many respectable eateries of Calcutta you will get baked crabs. Crab meat mixed with cream and topped with cheese, baked. Simple, right?

Wrong.

A spoon of this hit me with a huge Bengali wave. What this magic man had done is create a clever mosaic of crab meat with wilted iponema, otherwise known as Kolmi. Studded with garlic and baked with cheese, it was truly an East meets East affair.

We moved on to discs of potato, covered in semolina, crisp fried with hot cheese sauce. An interesting take on every Bengali's favourite, fried potatoes. Unlike every Bengali's usual serving of alubhaja, this came boldly on a slab of black marble with julienned carrots doing a cameo.

The next item was nothing short of genius. Escalope of chicken sautéed with paanch phoron, the pungent spice mix of Bengal. I don't know about you, but I expected a lot of flecks of fried spice.

What came instead was a very clean piece of boneless chicken, pink at the core, with just a hint of paanch phoron. Maybe it was dusted with the paanch phoron powder, maybe paanch phoron was used to temper the oil. I need not know. All I know is that I got to taste chicken like never before.

The main course was a simple square of river Betki, lightly fried. It came in a béchamel sauce enriched with garlic chutney. Yes. The boldness of garlic and the subtlety of béchamel.West meets West?After an interlude of a palate cleansing orange sorbet, we were taken back to the river in the form of stir-fried prawns. It looked anodyne enough, with its customary coriander leaf garnish. But one bite and I was left stunned. The prawn, only the freshest possible, was swimming in a puddle of green grapes and green chilies! The sweetness of the grapes gave way to the hot kick of the chilli. The buttery prawn provided the perfect canvas for this.

But the best was saved for last. A pork chop with apple sauce. Sounds classic. It was anything but that.

What came was a succulent, meaty portion, with a dollop of tart apple sauce. The first deviation from the sweet apple sauce. But the clincher was the pork chop itself. It was not one of those grilled ones. This was cooked a la our very own kosha mangsho! How I wished for some fried flatbread instead of the accompanying garlic toast! The sauce, marbled with coriander leaves, was strongly reminiscent of Sunday lunches and wedding banquets. Warm, comforting, filling, tasty. The very essence of feeling good.

And that is not all. How can you have a restaurant without dessert? And how can you have a food trial without dessert.

So there was a soufflé. A soufflé of green coconut and mustard. A marvel. A mound of snowy pleasure. A martini glass of warm moonshine. The creaminess of the green coconut and the mild fire of mustard played a celestial duet. This was not just East meets East. This was East rediscovers East.

I always have been a fan of my chef friend. From that evening onward, I shall worship him and his talent with food. I have always known that food can be fun. Never knew it can be so much fun.


TIPS

How to Protect Your Baby this Rainy Season

The rainy season brings a multitude of water-borne diseases that can affect your baby. Wearing warm clothing, avoiding cold drafts, applying body warming oil, waiting for wet hair to dry can help a lot. With a little care you can let your child enjoy this beautiful season and also keep him safe from illnesses.

Dengue
Avoid dengue by cleaning or throwing away all potential breeding ground for mosquitoes. Make sure that your neighbourhood makes a concerted effort towards proper garbage disposal, keeping canals clean, with water running through them; otherwise mosquitoes can breed.

Viral infections
Ensure that you and your family are not in close contact with someone who is suffering from a viral infection or conjunctivitis. Children are especially vulnerable to weather changes and infections, so keep them at home for a few days if you know that their playmates are suffering from an illness. Cut their nails regularly and do not allow them to put their hands in their mouths. Make sure they wash their hands with soap before eating anything and after visiting the toilet.

Diarrhoeal diseases
Flooding, which commonly occurs during the rainy season, can contaminate water sources. Thus, ensure safety of your drinking water by boiling it to avoid diarrhoea.

Respiratory illnesses
Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. Practice frequent hand washing with soap and water. Avoid crowded places where transmission of infection is highly probable.

-- LS Desk


CHECK IT OUT

Second outlet of Biborton

On 20 May, 2011the second outlet of Biborton was inaugurated at Alauddin Tower, Uttara. Lux-Channel I star Mehjabin formally inaugurated the shop. The owner of the shop, Runa Mostofa, was present among others.

Shalwar kameez sets, fatuas and children's wear on local fabrics and an array of designs and colours are found at the outlet. #01716364439


Green Marketing

Traditional furniture manufacturers Green Marketing Limited inaugurated their bedroom furniture at Nandan Mega Shop, Gulshan on June 2. Mr. Kaosar Hossen Chowdhury, Managing Director of Green Marketing Limited formally inaugurated the event.


Shoutik

On 21 May, 2011 Shoutik began its journey. Fashion designer Faruk Helal, model Asif, Liza, and owner of Shoutik, Nayef Chowdhury, were present at the inauguration ceremony. Although they begin a store focusing on women's wear, they assured a gradual progression to men's and children's wear. Contact: House #108, Road #12, Block-E, Banani


New showroom of Rangta

Fashion house Rangta opened its new showroom at Orchard Point, Dhanmondi. Saris, shalwar kameez sets, fatuas, shirts and panjabis are available on local handloom in varieties of print and handwork. # 01199873560

 

 


NEWS FLASH

Challenges for the textile industries

The British Council has funded a three year Development Partnership in Higher Education Project (DelPHE) which has brought together London College of Fashion (LCF), the BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology (BIFT) in Dhaka and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to deliver a research project between UK and Bangladesh.

The aim of the project is to explore new sustainable innovation practices to find ways forward to improve the competitiveness of the Bangladesh manufacturing and textile sector to add value to contemporary products. The project is being managed by a team of international and local experts.

 


Important

Notice

Star Lifestyle has stepped into its eleventh year as we celebrate, on 7 June, 2011, its ten year anniversary.
We, however, regret that during the entire duration of last year (June 2010-May 2011) the Volume was marked as 11, instead of 10. We stand corrected and this year's volume will be marked 11, instead of 12, which is to be expected.
We sincerely apologise for this grievous error.

 
 
 

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