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More than just `machh'

Sample food from the Bengali kitchen at Hotel Viceroy



Photo : K. Ramesh Babu

Where: The Patio, Hotel Viceroy

When: Till 17-Oct, Dinner only

WRAP YOUR lips around this, just one piece of succulent Rezala Mutton, and you'd agree it's not the best in town - it's just the best in the planet. You'd also disbelieve what you have so far believed that Bengali cuisine begins and ends with fish.

A lesser-known Bengali delicacy, its flavour is quite intriguing, and immediately satisfying. However, biting more than one can chew can only cause stomachache, or regret that we only have one tummy!

So better leave some stomach space for the better half of the marathon menu at The Patio, Hotel Viceroy - the venue for a 10-day-long Bengali food festival, suitably called Mahabhoj. Credits to Sumita Ganguli for lending her culinary expertise to remind Bengalis of their land, and non-Bengalis about its culinary inheritance. There are many things you will learn by the end of a meal here.

First, the Rezala Mutton is not an original Bengali delicacy but a dish that evolved in Kolkata thanks to Deccan Islamic influence edging into Bengali recipes. You'd also learn that Bengalis love their fish (machh) with religious venerationand that the buffet fare lingers on as a sweet memory.

"The food festival will surely be nostalgic to many in Hyderabad as Durga Puja is just round the corner. Non-Bengalis, meanwhile, can take pleasure in the festive spirit and savour the fare, which - in the least - will result in rewarding gastronomic experiences," assures assistant F&B manager, Rudrojit Deb.

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About the menu, all that can be said is there are items too numerous to mention - but don't waste time on soups or salads, dive right in - that is what any Bengali would do. Don't miss Murshidabadi Biryani - a delicacy rarely available these days.

Attention should be drawn to a few items like Chingri cutlet, Singara (starters), Luchi, Cholar dal, Jhinge Aloo Posto, Doi Begun, Potoler dalna, Shukto and Palong Shaker Ghonto (vegetarian) — most of them have a lingering taste and call for additional efforts to push a spoonful away. In the non-vegetarian line-up, fish and meat finds presence in many a form. But whichever the form, they are undeniably oily yet irresistible. There is Tel Koi, Bhape Ilish, Shaol Maccher jhaal, Parse maache Sorse bata, Posto chicken and Mangshor Jhol.

A dish like the Pabda jhaal, mild green in colour, can make you go red if your tongue is not used to chillies. Sweets can be manna in case of any such eventuality.

Bengalis consume sweets incessantly. Blame it on the distinctly different taste and the melt-in-mouth properties, but by the end of the meal you'd most certainly believe they are not the only one.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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