This is the review of a Bengali multi course buffet ‘mahabhoj’ at gharana September 2017.
In a NUtshell:
A theme buffet with a massive spread (no fillers) , ranging from good to excellent & unforgettable hospitality- we felt as if we had been to a relative’s house. The warmth of the hosts was unparalleled.
Address & other details: Grand hotel
Meal for 2: ₹5000
Cuisine type : vegetarian and non vegetarian
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YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
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:
We came to know of this event after reading a post by mohamushkil.com.
We reserved a table to avoid refusal in case we just walked in – happened last time.
Gharana is a large hall with a stage and decorated windows on both sides. It was the venue for this festival.
The hosts were dressed in traditional Bengali attire – men in dhoti, kurta, sandal and women in the traditional ‘Lal paar shada saree’ (white saree with red border).
Not everyone in the crew was from Bengal but I was amazed how everyone had been trained to pronounce Bengali words well. They had good knowledge of the food on display. Warmth exuded by the boys was unparalleled for a large organisation ( usually one comes across such warmth in good home stays / home restaurants places like the Bohri kitchen / owner run restaurants).
Traditional pujo songs sung by the legendary Ramkumar Chattopadhyay was playing in the background.
Food – if you like the food cooked by ‘thakur’s (traditional commercial cooks of Bengal), you would find food here a bit bland (rather less oil and chilly). If you like food of pice hotels (almost home like food made commercially for people staying in hostels / PG to eat daily), the food at mahabhoj would seem more premium (usage of good amount of ghee, better quality aromatic spices, in general best of ingredients) and less rustic. The chaap , biryani etc that you find in the numerous Muslim eateries of kolkata are much more robust, oilier, made from Dalda instead of cow ghee, spicier than the ones at mahabhoj.
To recap – brilliant for foreigners, people from other states, non resident Bengalis (get together with family / friends) and people with a digestive system not strong enough to manage super tasty food of roadside eateries. Good for Bengalis too to have a little bit of everything on a Pujo day. Note – not worth spending such an amount for the kolkata Bengalis coz they hv easy access to great food thruout the year in the city.
We absolutely loved the spread and the evening out with family.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
We started with a welcome drink – aam pora with a fizz (later we got to know it was sprite). Good, refreshing as we drank it, immediately after we sat. Rate it 3/5
First came fries – crumb fried dimer devil (devilled eggs), topse fish batter fried, chingri kobiraji (prawn coverage) for the non vegetarians
For vegetarians came mochar chop and beetroot chop.
The dimer devil (pronounced in Bengali as debhil ) was nice – it had a very good egg in the center ,covered on the sides by minced mutton and then crumb fried. Loved the semi hard boiled texture of the yolk, the taste and flavor of the mince and the crispness of the crumb cover. Rate it 4.25/5
Topse fish fry was excellent – the topse fish was very good and big. It was juicy and very tasty. Excellent 4.5/5
Prawn kobiraji had suboptimal salt in it but an outstanding texture of prawn – super soft, juicy and beyond perfect. It takes huge skill to get that texture ofvprawn in a deep fried item. Rate it 4.75/5 but due to salt final rating is 4.25/5
Mochar chop that is usually served in Bengali get together has a hint of sweetness. For the uninitiated, mocha is banana flower. The chop is made by crumb frying cooked banana flower. Spices made their presence felt. Rate it 3.75/5
Beetroot chop was very good. Crisp on the outer side. Rate it 4.25/5
We were served chicken shorba after this. This was good but a total misfit – there is no soup in Bengali cuisine. On top of that chicken soup was made in a western manner (compulsory 5 star item on the menu). Rate it 3/5
Chhana paturi was outstanding- it captured the essence of the fish paturi very well and substituted the fish with chhana (curdled milk). Strong, flavourful and super soft texture. Rate it 4.75/5
Chingri paturi was very good – once again the chingri was very fresh and super good to taste. The flavours of mustard made its presence felt but did not overpower the flavours of the prawns. Rate it 4.5/5
Chholar dal was very good to taste and had flavours of cow ghee. The people from West Bengal put a hint of sweetness in this dal which was missing. The grains of the dal retained their shape, yet were very soft. Rate it 4.25/5
Bengalis are fond of eating ‘bhaja’ (deep fry) of different things – vegetables, fish etc. There was a good spread of bhaja here.
Jhurjhure aloo bhaja was an accompaniment – nice and crisp.
Potol bhaja – fried Parwal was good to taste
Kakrol bhaja – thinly cut and deep fried till crisp.
Begun bhaja (deep fried aubergine) was good to taste.
Kumro bhaja (deep fried sliced pumpkin) was nice in texture but short of salt.
Luchi (deep fried maida / refined flour bread) was a tad rubbery . Have had better at Bengali homes.
Radhaballavi also had the same problem as luchi.
Plain rice was also there.
Pulao was the true Bengali version – aromatic gobindobhog rice, dry fruits, a tad sweet in addition to the salt. Till here it was perfect. Where it got a bit messed up was that it was suboptimally soft. Rate it 3/5.
Bhetki shorshey was excellent. Strong robust mustard that could give competition to wasabi, super flaky, fresh and outstanding fish. Rate it 4.5/5
Mutton biryani was excellent too – long aromatic independent grains of rice that were great to taste and super soft mutton. Rate it 4.5/5
Kosha mangsho , we were told, was a specialty at grand. It was really outstanding. Intense thick gravy with a tad of sweetness from onions, flavours of meat beautifully complimenting each other and soft and YUMM pieces of mutton. Rate it 4.75/5
Chingri macher malai curry was another marvel. Super soft and very tasty chingri (prawns) in a coconut based gravy called malai curry (etymology – Malay curry from Malaysia). Over time it became a part of Bengali cuisine, like chilly fish and chilly chicken will become on some time. The gravy was outstanding. Rate it 4.75/5
Chanchra was a mixed vegetable curry with a saag base that I liked quite a lot. Rate it 4.25/5
Potoler dolma (Armenian dolma inspired Bengali dish) was very good. Loved the stuffing and super loved the gravy
Dhokha koraishuti was again outstanding. The dhokha (cubes made from lentil paste, similar concept as gatta of Rajasthan) was soft yet had a great texture. The gravy was at its best – a slightly sweetish tinge, thick and just too good to taste. Rate it 4.75/5
Parshey macher jhol was ok. The fish was fresh and very good but the jhol ( thin gravy) did not make a mark. Rate the dish 4.5/5, jhol 2.5/5. Overall 3.5/5
Chicken chaap was brilliant. It did not have the extreme rustic ness of some of the best Muslim eateries but it was great on its own. Loved the gravy and it’s pungency. Rate it 4.5/5
Plastic chutney (raw papaya slice) was named so as people used to soak very thinly sliced papaya in lime water and it would become crisp and look like transparent plastic. The chutney here had soft papaya and it was thicker than it should be. Taste was good. Rate it 3/5
Tomato chutney was very good. Rate it 4/5
Khejur chutney was outstanding. Great interplay of textures. Loved the taste. Rate it 4.5/5
Best chutney was the date one. Outstanding from every angle. Rate it 4.5/5
Mishti shingara (sweet samosa with mawa / reduced milk filling) was one of the best I have had in a while. The outer layer was khasta and had a hint of salt. That made a huge difference. The filling was very good too. Overall the shingara was not too sweet and just perfect. Rate it 4.75/5
Lyangcha was outstanding. Once again this was one of the best I have had in a while. Thick outer layer, fried in ghee and put in Ras, perfect texture and very enjoyable. Rate it 4.75/5
Mihidana was nice, soft and very good to taste. Rate it 4.5/5
Misti bhaat / chhanar polao was very nice too. The flavours of good chhena was evident. Rate it 4.5/5
Rasmalai was very good. Rate it 4.5/5
Kanchagolla was less sweet, had a nice daanedaar texture and was as simple and good as it cud get. Rate it 4.5/5
There were many more sweets – could not taste those due to lack of space in stomach.
Overall rating of food of mahabhoj averages out to 4.25/5
We ended up having a memorable family dinner. Look forward to more