In a nutshell:
A decades old eatery that serves very good Bengali food cooked by Oriya & Bengali ‘Thakur’s.
Address & other details: Swadhin Bharat
Meal for 2: 100 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & nonvegetarian
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₹1180 for all this. No bill.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short description – in case u r in a hurry:
Last year after Durga Pujo we had done a series on Heritage Kolkata restaurants. It was then that one of our readers, Mann Meeta who wrote to us about this restaurant that is old but still serves very good food.
This time around when we were in Kolkata we decided to visit the restaurant & we were really happy to have listened to the suggestion.
The restaurant is behind Presidency University in College street. Google map did not help when it came to pinpointing the restaurant though it took us to the nearest car park.
Swadhin Bharat means Independent India. That talks about the time when this restaurant opened.
The restaurant has a wooden door (like in people’s homes) & a window with iron rods.
Furniture was wooden, with marble table tops.
Water was served in bhar (kulhar / earthen pot).
Food was served on banana leaf atop steel plate.
Outside the restaurant there was a very old gentleman sitting – we were told he is a nonagenarian & he has been running this place all his life & he still takes interest in the functioning of the restaurant. We said hello to him & went inside, thinking we will talk to him on the way back. Unfortunately by the time we were back, he looked very tired and drowsy. So we did not feel like bothering him at that time.
The waiting staff was traditional Thakurs – wearing lungi & sleeveless vests. The gentleman serving us was amazingly warm . He realized fast that we were in that restaurant for the first time & he started talking to us. He was very warm & kept suggesting dishes to us that helped us choose.
Food was very enjoyable – a lot like the food in biyebari (Bengali marriages) 3 decades back or as in luch cooked for family members at biyebari even today.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Muro dal was thick and very good to taste. It had flavours of dal, muro ( fish head) and also spices. Rate it 4/5.
We enjoyed this with crispy fried aloo bhaja that was perfectly salted. Rate it 4.25/5.
Mochar ghonto was average in general and was the only disappointing dish. It was a bit watery and lacked the intensity of a fabulous mocha ( banana flower) curry. Rate it 2/5
Parshey jhal was very good again. Strong mustard paste gravy that had punch more than wasabi.
Like in most commercial establishments, the fish had been fried over optimally in high heat. That made it a bit less soft than it wud have been naturally. Still it was very good to taste. Rate it 4/5
Doi ilish was excellent – Hilsa in curd based gravy. The curd extended an element of sourness and the mustard gave it pungency.
The fish was super soft and Yumm to the core. Rate it 4.5/5
Chingri malai curry was not a Malay curry by any stretch of imagination but was an excellent curry on its own.
It had an element of sweetness due to onions and had two pieces of excellent super soft and tasty prawns. Rate it 4.5/5
Mangso ( mutton curry) was intense and really rustic.
It had beautifully merged the flavours of the meat and spices. Rate it 4.5/5
Macher dimer bora was a revelation – fried fish roe. It was soft n juicy, had a mouthful of flavour and was very tasty. Rate it 4.5/5.
Pui shaak chorchori was another dish that we loved.
The curry had flavours of fish, mustard oil and had a burnt smoky feel to it that was very enjoyable. Rate it 4.5/5
Aam chutney was very good as well. The sweetness and sourness was well balanced and a tinge of salt made a huge difference. Rate it 4.25/5
Overall rating of food at Swadhin Bharat averages out to 4.1/5
Look forward to revisiting