Since it has opened, The Gateway Hotel has been on a constant endeavour to offer something different on the foodspace. While we enjoyed the Ilish Utsab or Hilsa Festival last year, this year it is Raj Barir Khawa dawa – a curated menu from various Raj bari or the royal families of Bengal.
Read – The Hilsa festival in Taj Gateway Kolkata
Like the way the food of the Royal Palaces of Rajasthan has been popularised and has become a delicacy on its own, the same has never been done about the Royal cuisines of undivided Bengal; although the Nawabs or the Rajas have been real food connoisseurs. It is said that when the exiled families of Wajid Ali Shah and Tipu Sultan brought hundreds of Khansamas and moshalachis with them when they were exiled in Bengal and after their death, these superbly talented cooks dissipated into various royal estates and influenced the food pattern there.
We were invited on behalf of KFB for a preview of the same and for me personally, its always been a happy feeling to catch up with Executive chef Ashish Roy who has been my ex colleague from Taj Bengal. As always chef Ashish has come up with a winner and this is a meal not to be missed.
Its a vast menu which has got Amish Bhoj (non vegetarian spread) and Niramish Bhoj, which has got the veg spread. We sampled a few of the delicacies on the offering selected by Chef Ashish.
We started with Fish roll which was wrapped in a fillet of fish with a stuffing of more fish ground with spices like nutmeg and mace and enhanced with coriander and green chilies. Fish roll was never a bengali street food; however as the British started frequenting Sovabazar Raj bari, it was created to impress them. This became a delight for the British visitors. The “Ghumo-aanch er mangsho” or meat cooked in slow fire by putting the dying charcoals on top, originated from Murshidabad, and is a classic example of food influenced by the “Dum Cooking”. When Maharani Gayatri Devi, the princess from Cooch Behar got married to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, she introduced some of the cooking style from the Royal Palace of Jaipur to Cooch Behar also. One such was lal mangsher pulao or Pulao with Lal maas.
There was doodh Ilish or Safed Ilish, where the Ilish or Hilsa was marinated with milk, mustard and yogurt. The addition of the milk and yogurt is clearly an inspiration from Rajasthan and this was the first taste of the Ilish this season for us. Last year, The Gateway hotel had held a delicious Ilish festival and if morning shows the day, then am sure this year also they are going to delight their patrons. There was tok daal or daal cooked with Mango and for many of us in the table, that was very nostalgic reminding of yesteryears and grannies who used to make this during summer vacations.
We also had Maccher Kochuri with sada aloo hing morich, Begun Basanti and Potoler Dolma which is a treat for the Vegetarians. The lyangcha from Bardhaman is a famous one and when one discusses about the sweet stars of bengal, this is one dish which cannot be missed at all. This is getting recreated here as well as the Aam Sondesh or the mango sondesh which will bring in a seasonal flavour.
This is one festival which cannot be missed and festivals like these should be more encouraged so that more and more unheard recipes and dishes are brought forward to the masses. This festival is on from 21st May, 2016.