This time it was a call from the east. My generous friend/ host / boutique hotelier had a lovely
afternoon tea session with my book launch at her very sexy, quaint The Corner Courtyard hotel, off Landsdown road in Kolkata . Eight rooms, a fab restaurant with a very creative euro style menu.
I decided to over extend the hospitality to get my "food fix" and overcome those withdrawal symptoms... One of those things where I literally trek for new flavours. And it all started again. I took a
walk with their chef to the local Landsdowne market which is not really fancy to look but the produce
mainly fish and veggies are super. I always had this fascination for the Kolkata Bhetki. In Mumbai we are used to eating sea water or salt water fish, but in Kolkata , it's all about sweet water or river fish… Totally divine flavours, subtle and silky in the mouth… To my surprise I have discovered that the bhetki is called Chonak in Konkani. I have eaten it a lot in Goa. It's also referred to as Asian Sea Bass or Barramundi in English. This species has an elongated body form with a large, slightly oblique mouth and an upper jaw extending behind the eye inhabiting coastal waters, estuaries, lagoons, and rivers
I once remember having this fish in Goa in a wicked red masala, coated in suji and pan fried. We bought some fish back along with the famous and one of the most delicious Gandharaj lemon(means King of Flavour), only found in abundance in Kolkata and some eastern states. The most amazing citrus I have come across after yuzu ( a Japanese citrus fruit) Gandharaj lemon deserves all the credit it gets, for it is truly fragrant. You need to actually taste it to perceive its flavor -- the fragrance is indescribable. The shape is longish and it has a thick rind. It's beautiful, and divine when squeezed over hot rice mixed with a dollop of ghee! The leaves are amazingly fragrant. I would cut them into a fine chiffonade (strips thin) and toss it with some fried rice with chillies n ginger. The zest can be grated and used in cookies, cake batters, mousses, and the juice will make a fab lemon curd for an orgasmically tasty lemon curd tarts… Also, a slice of lemon warmed on a tava or a pan ,sprinkled with ajwain and rock salt and sucked helps to release gas from your stomach instantly. I had this wonderful lunch from a very popular eatery Bhojohori Manna (named after the great Manna Dey) after which I had a severe food coma. Bhetki with mustard in a banana leaf, fish head and dal curry, aloo poshto, jumbo prawns in dab (coconut water) and Kosha Mngsho (sexiest mutton dish), ghee rice with a twist of the Gandhraj lemon ..OMMGGGG. Meetha to buntaa hai once in Kolkata… So many sweets but I stuck to my favourite roshgullas, mishti dohi (top class) and ras malais…. And of course not to forget those after hours post many beers et al... the iconic kathi rolls just off Park Street…gotta be done..
Till then have a great weekend.. Eat well, play safe.