In a nutshell:
Masters of Gravies, curries & fries, still a long way to go when it comes to tenderness of meats. Great place to try out traditional dishes that r seldom cooked at home these days but not a good idea to try basic day to day home food.
Address & other details: Ki Hangla
Meal for 2: Rs. 300 onwards
Cuisine type: nonvegetarian & vegetarian
Bengali food is usually associated with fish, meats & everything non vegetarian. However there r some extraordinary vegetarian food items made from leaves, stems, flowers, roots etc that cost minimal but taste YUMM e.g. Mocha (banana flower), thor (the pith of the banana stem), oal (root), bok Phool (flower), kumro Phool (pumpkin flower), kochu pata (leaf), kochu (root), lau shak (leaf) etc. These have unique tastes & flavours and most of these r different from the mainstream usually available Indian vegetarian food.
Bengali cuisine of today also has many Mughal influences like Kolkata Biryani etc. British influence shows upin the form of batter fried fish, orly, crumb fried chops, cutlets, fries , kabiraji (coverage), dimer devil (devilled egg) etc.
Bengali food also interestingly has influence from other unexpected Countries. E.g. Dolma came with the Armenians to Kolkata in early 1800s!!!!The Portuguese introduced Cottage cheese to Bengalis in 1600s& that is what gave birth to the famous chhena based Bengali sweets!!!!
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
For those new to Bengali language, Hangla (pronounced ‘hyangla’) means Glutton. Ki Hangla essentially means – ‘oh, what a glutton!!!’
As I entered the restaurant, I realized it was a real tiny place but with very well done colourful interiors. There were 5 tables with a seating of 3 – 4 each. The Restaurant was neat & clean. A live roll counter is put up outside the restaurant, beside the entrance door – that ensures ‘roll’ customers can take away their rolls without entering the shop. Smoke from the roll counter does not get in the shop as well due to a glass wall that separates the counter from the Dining Room.
In addition to serving cooked food, the restaurant also sells Bengali snacks like Mukhorochak Chanachur & knick knacks like Jharna Ghee, naaru (Bengali style coconut gur laddoo), hojmi guli etc. The wall is adorned with covers of Old Bengali LP records.
Home delivery seemed to be a large percentage of sales here as I cud hear the phone ringing quite frequently.
The Lady who owns this eatery manages the show herself & that makes a helluva difference. She gets live feedback from the constant customer interaction & that I guess helps her keep up the quality standard. We cud see that Quality of food as well as ‘home delivery’ on time was being directly supervised by her. When Love & Mustard restaurant opened in Galleria long back, the Owner’s presence meant the food was good & over time the food deteriorated as he started entrusting the shop to his staff members. I stopped going there after a series of average to bad experiences.
Ki Hangla serves traditional Bengali, British inspired food, Mughal inspired food, Bangladeshi specialities, Portuguese inspired sweets & of course Armenian inspired Dolma. The taste of some of the food reminded me of the food cooked by ‘thakurs’ (traditional ‘biyebari/shaadi’ Cooks usually from Orissa who were expert Bengali cuisine cooks) who are on the path to extinction after ‘Marriage Caterers’ have found their way into the Bengali ceremonies.
Ki Hangla also comes up with ‘special thalis’ & special menu for different occasions.
Food is served in aluminium foil boxes – the same ones that r used for home delivery – A concept similar to Dominos Pizza where they serve on the home delivery box even if u r having it sitting at the store.
As mentioned above, gravies & fries r awesome at Ki Hangla but the meats r not well done at all – something that needs to be taken seriously by the Management.
Detailed description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
Day 1 & 2
We started our meal with Fish fry – British inspired crumb fried marinated fish. The fish was layery soft & juicy. A thin crumb coating ensured that the taste of fish & that of the marination is not lost. Did not expect so good in Gurgaon. I wud rate this at 4.25/5
The next dish that we had was Potoler Dolma.
Potol is the Bengali name of what is called Parmal in Hindi. The mid part of the vegetable is scooped out & is filled with a vegetarian / non-vegetarian filling. For the uninitiated, Dolma is a Turkish origin word that denotes a family of stuffed vegetable dishes common in the Balkans and surrounding regions, Middle East, the Caucasus (most of these regions having a common Ottoman heritage) , Russia, Central and South Asia. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, and eggplant. At some point in History this concept sneaked into Bengali kitchen thru the Armenians & the easiest vegetable to lay hand on in those times was I guess, the potol.
To know about Kolkata’s Armenian connection, pls click here.
Potoler Dolma at Ki Hangla had an excellent texture of ‘not at all overdone’ potol – hard enough to hold up shape, soft enough to be enjoyed eating. Filling was vegetarian but outstanding – mildly sweet. The Gravy was excellent & I finished it to the last drop. Overall I wud give this 4.5/5
Next we ordered Dhokar dalna. For the uninitiated, Dhoka food has nothing to do with ‘cheating’ (Dhoka in Hindi means cheating). Dhoka is a cake made of ground lentils & dalna refers to a variety of Bengali gravy.
The gravy was awesome in terms of taste & flavors. Gravy gets a 4.5/5. Dhokha was tight & not as soft as it shud have been. Texture gets a 2/5. Taste-wise the Dhokha was good & the balance of sweet, spices & the salt was perfect. Taste gets a 4/5. Overall the Dhokhar Dalna’s rating adds up to 3.5/5.
Mutton Kosha. Though dry, the little gravy that was there was simply Superb. A perfect balance of sweet, salt & hot made this gravy so good. I wud rate the gravy 4.5/5. The meat pieces were good in terms of taste but were quite bad in terms of texture. The meat wud refuse to separate from the bones when I was using my fingers. Finally I cud eat the meat by biting it off the bones – I wud have scared off a few co-diners had they been vegetarians. I wud give the meat 2.5/5. Overall the rating for the dish adds up to 3.5/5.
Dhakai fish tikka – The menu card says it is a tikka made with minced fish. What was served was however thin fillets of fish marinated & tawa fried. Browned onions & strips of fried green chillies added to the twist in taste. Mindblowing good is the taste. Unique flavour, excellent taste & a wow texture. The fish was juicy beyond expectation. Clearly this gets a 4.5/5.
Mohun Bagan Kochu Chingri was fingerlicking good. Flavor & taste of coconut, pungency of mustard that straight hits the sinuses & the magical effect of tiny prawns converted the humble kochu (a plant eaten in Bengal) to a gem of a dish. I wud rate this a 4.75/5. Honestly, I was floored.
Dhakai Roast mutton was again a very interesting dish. This was a dry mutton dish. The gravy was very good as usual & the meats were under cooked as usual!!!!! I wud urge the Owners to take up this problem seriously as this seems to be the only imperfection in the otherwise excellent food served at this restaurant. I wud give this a 3/5 again.
We asked for chutney to end the meal – It was tomato chutney (sans the lumpiness & seeds) with raisins & cashew. The texture was flat but the taste was wow. A perfect balance of sweetness, sour, a pinch of salt & a tinge of hot. Loved it & wud rate it 4.25/5.
The overall rating for food adds up to 4/5.
Overall, I loved this place & will keep visiting.
We started the evening with Mutton chop – in case u r thinking of lamb chop, this is something totally different. In Kolkata, this is usually minced mutton made into an egg shape & crumb fried.
The good thing about the mutton chop in Ki Hangla was that it was not made with minced mutton but small chunks of it & that made it different from the rest. The taste was very good & the flavors were divergent – enjoyably. The outer layer was thin , thus enabling the taste of the filling to be felt better. I wud give this a 4.25/5
We tried Lonka bhapa maach – It was juicysoft bhetki fish fillets cooked in thick mustard paste with hint of coconut & posto. Strong robust mustard that hits & the other two ingredients softening the effect. Excellent dish. Few pieces of bell pepper added just to the look – had nothing to contribute to the taste. A clean 4.5/5 for this one.
Post this we had Ilish Biryani. Of course this cud not be kacchi biryani – else the bones of ilish (hilsa) wud have been all over. The rice strands were not very long but tasted pretty good. The flavors were very good too. They were not however melt in the mouth. Flavors of the fish were also there in the rice.
The masala with which the fish was cooked b4 being mixed with the rice was too good as well. The fish piece itself was quite big in size, tasted good but was not the ‘layered with fat’ variety of Ilish. Very impressive inspite of all that & I give this a 4.5/5.
Day whatever (lost count):
So while we always liked eating at Ki Hangla and have been doing that, what surprised me was a comment by my foodie friend Aalok that Ki hangla does not make the basic stuff right. I thought about it but cud not really correlate.
So the next time we were hungry for Bong food, we went for the basic stuff – the ones that r made at bong homes regularly.
We ordered tangra machher begun borir jhol. Firstly my benchmark for tangra fish is pretty high as I have had some really fresh tangra fish in Kolkata (the ones that were bought live). Those taste heavenly. Light frying & then currying yields immense result.
Taangra available in delhi NCR is nowhere near to as fresh. On top of that it was deep fried & overfried. This resulted in it becoming charred on the outer & almost tasteless inside.
The bori (wari / kind of dal vada) was good to eat. So were the large chunks of aloo & the brinjals. The basic jhol was tomato based & was quite screwed up. No bong home wud have that kind of a jhol with so much of Punjabized tomato gravy. Even good Thakurs wud not cook it this way. I wud give the tangra 2.5/5 & the jhol 1.5/5, thus taking the total to 2/5.
The next dish we ordered was Sorshey Ilish. Ilish / Hilsa is a fish that one can either love or hate but very difficult to be indifferent to. Good hilsa has layers of fat in it & when fried, doubles up the oil in the kadhai.
The hilsa served here was far from good. On top of that I was unlucky enough to get the piece just below the head of the fish – that turned out to be bitter & I had to throw off my fish. Bad. 0/5 for the fish. The gravy was good but not great. The mustard was pungent but not pungent enough to hit the sinuses.
The gravy was too thin as well. A bit more ‘reducing the water level’ wud have increased the intensity of taste. It was good though. I give this a 3/5. Overall the rating of this dish adds up to 1.5/5.
We ended our meal with Aamer chutney (raw mango chutney). It was quiet good – sweet & sour, with a little tinge of salt to balance it all out. I liked it so much that I polished off almost 1 full bowl of it!!! I give it a 4.25/5. Wud have given higher had the mango not been a bit ripe.
So rating of basic food at Ki Hangla averages out to 1.75/5 & that makes me agree with my friend.
To sum it up – the special dishes mentioned by me above are really good. For basics, just patao some Bong friend to take u home for ‘Maa ke haath ka khana’.
More updates in time to come. watch out