When I read that Le Jardin at The Oberoi, Bangalore was hosting a food festival celebrating the flavors of my home city, Calcutta, a visit there was only imperative.
The festival, on from the 22nd to the 30th of this month (rotational menu) has at it’s helm Chef Gopal from The Oberoi Grand in Kolkata, who has brought along with him ingredients from Kolkata to give the most authentic dining experience.
The entrance of the restaurant is attractively ornamented with quintessential Bengali goods- a topor, a matki, a Bengali saree and other items. The restaurant windows have been beautified with paintings depicting old Calcutta.
Starters that were served to me included a Dimer Devil (fritter with a filling of boiled eggs and potatoes) which was spiced perfectly; a Bhetki Paturi which was tender, flaky and had the pungency of the mustard coming through.
Also served were a crisp on the outside and fleshy on the inside Beguni, which had evident use of nigella seeds and poppy seeds in the batter, and a Mochar Chop which is basically a banana blossom fritter and which, in my opinion, comes close to being the next best thing to mock meat!
While the starters were served on the table, the mains were spread out on the buffet table. The items I sampled include:
Gobindhobhog Pulao- sticky, fragrant and loaded with kaju-kismis, this was delicious!
Bhaja Munger Dal- this was par excellence! Probably, the finest Bhaja munger dal I’ve ever had.
Bengali Aloo Dum- packing quite a punch, loved the use of baby potatoes.
Shukto- a classic Bengali vegetarian dish which is a hodgepodge of vegetables cooked with poppy seeds and mustard. Could do with a little less oil.
Jhinge Aloo Posto- Ridge gourd and potatoes cooked in a rich poppy seed paste with subtle spices. This was stupendous!
Doi Murgh- chicken cooked in a gravy made of onions and curd. The chicken was cooked to optimum and the gravy was light, velvety.
Kolkata Mutton Biryani- tasted good but lacked the aloo or the typical Kolkata biryani ittar.
Shorshe Maach- boneless pieces of fish cooked in a thick sauce made of mustard paste.
Kosha Mangsho- lamb cooked in a gravy made of browned onions. This was good stuff and went very well with the luchi.
All the desserts I sampled, namely the Shank Sandesh, Misti Doi, Kaju Barfi, Shor Bhaja and the Rasmalai were very well executed. The Shor Bhaja, though, could be less sweet and the misti Doi more subtle on the ‘earthiness.’
This food fest offers a lot to choose from, for vegetarians and non vegetarians, alike.
In a setting as regal as Le Jardin, a festival celebrating food from the city with the warmest soul, is sure befitting.
A city that has seen the Bengal famine; the divide of the Ghotis and the Bangals; the rule as the capital of our nation and is now celebrated as the City of Joy, with cuisine that only accentuates it’s allure.
Kollolini Kolkata, indeed!