This is a review of Bengali food pop up by Home chef Iti misra from Kolkata
For general review of the Bombay canteen please click here
In a NUtshell:
A brilliant pop up by home chef Iti Misra from Kolkata, a huge Bengali spread without the usual suspects, as close to home food as possible , in a commercial set up – in short, memorable
Address & other details: Canteen Bengali bhoj
Meal for 2: ₹3200 onwards for set menu. A la carte ₹2000 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
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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 have been to Bombay canteen several times, just the two of us and also with our guests. Very unusual behaviour for us , coz we usually never repeat a restaurant ( thinking it to b a missed opportunity of trying something new). We find the TBC guys pretty serious about their food and that’s what makes us go back. Earlier food Festivals and wonderful Christmas lunch also got us here.
Sometime back I ‘followed’ their insta page (again an aberration), as I usually do not follow too many restaurant handles.
As I was browsing, I came across this amazing picture of bong food and got to know about the festival. The picture was so captivating that I clicked on the link. It led to another page where it said ‘limited Seats’. ‘Book now’. I clicked and it led me to a link on insider.in where I was asked to pay for the meal to book. Well that was a first time – hv done it for food walks / events but never before for a restaurant. Good idea, I wud say.
We reached at our scheduled time of 8 pm. In another 15 minutes all 24 guests had arrived and the dinner began. food was served in a sequence, the way Bengali food is served at Bengali homes or biye bari (meals served on marriages / special occasion).
We had a great chat with our host Iti Misra – she had come up with 40+ items and after 2 weeks of constantly working with the chefs at canteen, they chose 28 items to be showcased. She made sure the usual suspects like Luchi, Kosha mangsho, alur dom, chingri malai curry etc are not a part of the menu. We were speechless when we heard she is 77 years old and she travels the world regularly – respect the spirit. Hope we will be as strong and active at that age.
The beauty of the food at this bhoj was that the guys at the restaurant kitchen managed to dish out almost home like food (with zero exaggeration) in a commercial set up. Way ‘closer to home’ food than what the thakurs (professional cooks who do large scale occasion food) do in Kolkata / what restaurants usually serve.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
The food was served on a beautiful burnt clay terracotta thali (plate). A banana leaf was cut in the same shape and placed on top.
We were first served Gobindo bhog (small grain, aromatic) rice. Liquid cow ghee was poured on top.
Kochu saag (taro / Arbi leaves) was served. It did not have the stems but only the leaves of the plant. Simple, moist and delicious. Rate it 4/5.
Chingri bhorta was a ball of prawns, mashed potato, green chillies and mustard oil. Too good. Rate it 4.25/5
Potol bhaja (deep fried pointed gourd) with just salt was as good as it could get. Quality of the vegetable was very good – kochi (meaning ‘tender’ in Bengali). Rate it 4/5
Sona moong daal had the perfect texture – could feel the pulses in the mouth. Loved the taste. Mango ginger did not make its presence felt as much. Rate it 4.25/5
Postor bora (poppy seed cutlets) were as good as they could get. Loved it. Rate it 4.5/5
Lau ghonto (bottle gourd) was cooked in milk which gave it a very nice texture. However it was slightly low on salt and the Gourd had sub optimal softness. Bori (vadi / lentil dumplings) in the ghonto gave a crisp texture but the boris were not the best. Rate the dish 2.5/5
Bhaja Ilish (fried hilsa fish) was topped with caramelised onions and green chillies. Very good fish (by mumbai standards) – oily, juicy, super soft inside, slightly crisp fried outside. Rate it 4/5.
Mochar paturi ( banana flower cooked in banana leaf) was very good. A layer of grated coconut atop a thick layer of banana flower, wrapped with a banana leaf and pan seared. Enjoyed the flavours. Rate it 4.25/5
Roshogollar malai curry was something I heard for the first time!!!! unsweetened Sponge roshogolla , cooked in gravy. Outstanding soft and unique. Super loved the gravy. Rate it 4.75/5
Chitol machher Kalia had a very nice and thick gravy. Full of flavours. The chitol maach peti (belly of chitol fish) is famous for being full of fat and utterly butterly delicious. Due to overfrying at high heat, the buttery feel of the peti was lost. The fish tasted good. Rate it 3/5
Aechorer kofta (raw jackfruit balls curry) was excellent. Loved the way in which the kofta retained the flavours and texture of jackfruit. Not easy to maintain that in a tomato based gravy. Rate it 4.5/5
Daab chingri was divine !!!!! Chef opened the lid of daab (green coconut) on the table and the aroma spread out. the jumbo marinated prawns were baked for 1 hour inside the coconut!!!!. Wow. What flavours of pungent mustard complimenting flavours of prawns. What an amazing texture of the prawns. I am salivating a day after, as I write about the taste. Memorable. Rate it 4.95/5
Goalondo steamer chicken curry – this used to be served on an overnight steamer decades back. Desi chicken was used for this dish. The meat was super enjoyable and pretty well cooked. But the show stopper was the unbelievable jhol (thin gravy) that burst out with flavours and had a robust and rustic taste. Rate it 4.95/5
Next came ‘banned plastic chutney’. For the uninitiated, just to clarify, bongs do not eat plastic. Its just a name given to a raw papaya chutney. The vegetable is sliced very thin and soaked in chuna (lime water). That makes the slices crisp and transparent and it visually starts resembling a small piece of transparent plastic ( u hv to stretch ur imagination a bit though).
The plastic chutney here did not have the expected crisp texture of papaya – probably it was soaked less in lime water. The chutney was low on sugar and also low on lemon juice. Usually both intensities are much higher. It was good on its own. Rate it 2/5
Maccher tawk (sweet and sour chutney made from small fish) was good but we have had better. The caramelisation had not optimally happened and hence the chutney had less ‘paak’ than optimum and hence did not pack the punch it potentially cud hv. The deep fried crisp fish pieces were enjoyable. Rate it 2.5/5
Aam kheer was slices of ripe flavourful mangoes with grainy (daanedaar) reduced milk – outstanding. Loved the play of textures and the interplay of sweet, sourness of mangoes and the tinge of salt in the kheer. Rate it 4.5/5
Patishapta (crepes with grated coconut and jaggery filling) served with coconut ice cream and caramelised nuts. The outer layer was wonderfully soft – never had it so good outside of someone’s home . The filling was outstanding – juicy and flavourful. Super loved the coconut ice cream that had a robust flavour. Rate it 4.95/5
Overall rating of food at the pop up averages out to 4/5.
That’s a fab score I would say, for 17 dishes average. Not at all a mean feat.
Satisfied, yet not satiated. Looking forward to revisiting to catch up on some more dishes that was not part of this bhoj but are available a la carte.