Everyone from Calcutta says food there is great. But for someone who’s not lived in the city or grown up there, it’s difficult to understand what exactly in Calcutta food. Is it the Bengali cuisine? No, more than that – so does it include food that’s Mughlai, Chinese, Tibetian, Gujarati? All of these and more actually. Iconic lanes and by lanes have some of the yummiest food that Kolkata has to offer. So, think rolls, paranthas, momos, chaats and so much more. And Monkey Bar across its outlets in India brings a menu – called Next Stop Kolkata – that’s a gastronomic trip down the streets and food in those streets and stalls. This special menu has been curated after scouring through various parts of the city by Kolkata based home-chef Iti Misra and Monkey Bar’s Head Chef Dheeraj Varma.
From the Beadon Street Fish Roll to Girish Park-er Shoitan Deem, College Street Hing-er Kochuri to Chitpur Road Chicken Rezala, from Tiretti Bazaar Prawn Dumpling to Esplanade Mughlai Porota, Vardaan Market Moong Daal Pakodi Chaat to Elgin Road Pork Momos, Lake Market Chicken Kabiraji to Vivekanand Park Ghooghni … the menu covers it all- vegetarians and non-vegetarians. And if all that food leaves you parched, there’s Piara Peara, Puchka Caipiroshka, Thaanda Chaa and other heady libations to keep you hydrated! For the uninitiated – if I had to give my recommendations:
- Shoitaan Dim – Aptly described as when Kolkata meets the scotch egg, and also brings along the Nargis kofta. 6 minute, perfectly the right bit of runny eggs encased in shammi kebab mince.
- Ghoogni – a vegetarian dish that most meat eaters adore. Curried white peas in a potato and onion semi gravy, served with a masala brioche. Traditionally, this is perfect on its own or with luchi (puri).
- Chicken Rezala – A subtle cashew and poppy based chicken curry served with the triangle parotta that’s so popular back home. Yum!
- Beadon Street Fish Roll – Smoked bhetki fillet stuffed with curried shrimp, and then wrapped in a bread and fried.
- Chicken Kobiraji – a dish that’s popular both with meat and fish, in a frilly egg coating and served as a cutlet. Perfect with that 4-o clock chai! The applie kashundi chutney combination with it is quite intriguing.
And it’s not just about the food. The whole vibe at Monkey emulates the sights, aromas and memories of this beloved city and its vibrancy so well. Walking into Monkey Bar in the duration of the festival, you must notice the quintessential Kolkata yellow taxi setup as a photo booth near the bar. The chand mala inspired hanging décor will remind the nostalgic Bengalis of puja pandals, while the menu is a map of the streets of the city designed for a gastronomic travel. For patrons who visited Monkey Bar before 3rd October 2018 – i.e. before the promotional menu was open – and solved a small quiz map, they won gift vouchers for the actual festival. It wasn’t easy, but hey – I did it!
The Last Word
Don’t miss out on the cocktails, they are quite something. I can’t decide between the Phuchka Pani Capriojka that had a twist of vodka and gondhoraj lebu and fresh mint, or Thaanda Cha which was a time a spirited invocation to vodka with chilled spices and infused Darjeeling Tea. So settle for the Piara Peara – a cleverly (s)pun ode to the guava spiked with tequila and tabasco and the chili rimmed glass to give you the spicy kick. This promotion is running until 21st October 2018, in Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore outlets. Do check it out!
All photos courtesy: Monkey Bar