Eat like a Bong

Amrita Prasad
Sunday, 9 September 2018

At the ongoing food festival Big Bong Theory at Sen5ES, Marriott Suites Pune, you can get a glimpse of Bengal’s culture and the delectable food that is served in households 

The pleasant scent of dhuno —  a traditional incense, instrumental versions of Ekla Cholo Re and Ei Poth Jodi Na Sesh Hoy and a few popular Rabindrasangeet songs playing in the background, traditional Bengali decorations made with marigold and banana leaf, food stalls selling Kolkata Roll, Chops (cutlets), Chutneys, Jhaal Muri (a street snack made of puffed rice, onion, tomato, an assortment of spices and chanachur), Luchi (puri) and Cholar Dal (Bengal gram cooked with Indian spices) and a variety of Biryanis will take you to the heart of Kolkata without having to step out of Pune.
     
Big Bong Theory, an ongoing  Bengali food festival organised at Sen5es Restaurant and Bar at Marriott Suites Pune, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa, is all set to make you feel and eat like a Bong. The festival, which continues till September 15, is offering mouthwatering Bengali delicacies to its guests. Sushant Kumar Dey, chef de partie, Sen5es, who hails from Bengal and has curated the menu, says, “Not just the Bengali community, but others too, including Maharashtrians, enjoy our Biryanis, Chops and Fish Curries.” On the day we visited Sen5es, we found a lot of foreigners happily gorging on Mutton Chop and enjoying Jhaal Muri. Bengali food does have global appeal. 

At the festival, guests can also enjoy Aam Pora Sharbat — a Bengali classic drink made from the roasted pulp of raw mango, the main course buffet and desserts. 
The staff dressed in traditional Bengali attire — men in dhoti-Panjabi and women in lal paad saree (white saree with red border) — add a lot of colour and gaiety to the atmosphere. The Big Bong Theory celebrates the lavish Bengali cuisine, which is a beautiful blend of the subtle flavours of spices and mustard oil used in cooking in Bengali households. The menu has a well-balanced vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.  

While the main focus is authentic Bengali food, Dey has also created a few fusion dishes like Fulkopi Tomato Posto — cauliflower and tomato cooked with poppy seeds in yoghurt gravy. He will keep adding an item or two to the menu throughout the festival.
 
“We are serving some of the most loved Bengali dishes such as Mangsher Chop — a moreish, moist mutton filling encased in a crispy, deep-fried shell served steaming hot with Kashundi — a pungent mustard chutney; Begun Bashanti — pan-fried eggplants in rich and creamy mustard gravy; Chhanar Kofta  — cottage cheese balls dipped in a finger-licking good lightly spiced curry; Sukto — a typical Bengali dish made of bitter gourd and assorted Indian vegetables; Dhonepata Kancha Lonka Murgi — a mildly spiced chicken curry cooked with fresh coriander leaves; Maccher Tel Jhol — fish curry flavoured with nigella seeds (kalonji) and green chillies; Chingri Malai Curry — prawns cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with spices; Kosha Mangsho — chunks of mutton and potatoes cooked in onion gravy; Dal Rai Bhadur — yellow moong daal cooked with green peas and cauliflower; Mishti Pulao — Basmati rice cooked with dry nuts and other delectables,” says Dey. 

At the festival, you get a taste of not only the famous Kolkata style Biryani, but also the lesser-known Murshidabad Biryani and Nawazi Chicken Korma from the region. Murshidabad Biryani is nothing but Mutton Biryani cooked with juicy potatoes, however, it is certainly different from the biryani served in other parts of the country. The influence of the Mughals can be distinctly seen in the preparation of these two dishes.
  
We started our culinary journey with Jhaal Muri and then tried the mini versions of Chicken Chop, Mutton Chop, Egg Chop, Vegetable Chop and Aloo Chop. Each had a distinctive taste. Served with a variety of chutneys like Mango Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Kashundi and Green Chutney, the cutlets tasted heavenly. Before gorging on the delectable main course, we decided to sip on the Aam Pora Sharbat. Sweet, sour and tangy, the drink was delicious and engergising.
 
In the mains, we tried Mutton Kosha, Mishti Pulo and Sukto. The mutton was cooked to perfection with the right blend of chillies, garam masala, garlic and salt and tasted perfect with the mildly sweet rice. Sukto was heavenly to say the least; it’s amazing flavour brought back some childhood memories.
 
A Bengali meal is never complete without sweets. After the main course, we tried Rossogolla, Payesh (kheer) and Malai Cham Cham, which brought a sweet ending to our happy Bong story.  

ST READER SERVICE
Sen5es Restaurant and Bar at Marriott Suites Pune, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa, has organised Bengali food festival, Big Bong Theory, till September 15, from 7 pm onwards

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