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Food for the soul

Bangliana is the place to check out if you are a homesick Bengali Babu

PHOTO: MURALI KUMAR K.

MMMM. The food is served on a thala-bati, small katoris arrayed around a mound of rice

Techies from Bengal, Orissa, Manipur and Bihar living in Koramangala needn't feel homesick anymore, thanks to technocrat-turned-floriculturist and former Rotarian S.K. Ghosh who has started a new branch of his restaurant Bangliana near the IIM on Bannerghatta Road. "These young professionals yearn for wholesome meals," Ghosh explains. "How long can they live on junk food? At first, I brought a Bengali cook over and set up a mess. It was a roaring success. I later set up Bangaliana on August 1, 2004," says Ghosh.

The ambience at Bangaliana is the informal chaos of most homes. The furniture is quasi-office. The walls teem with drawings by Sukumar Ray, accompanied by his brilliant Bangla nonsense verse. The day's specials are chalked up on a white board. A portrait of Swami Vivekananda is set by the cash counter manned by Ghosh or his wife.

"Our USP is fish. Different fish curries, at least five or seven each day," says Ghosh. "We fly in fish from Kolkata at least twice or thrice a week. Over the weekends, we have special dishes. And when it rains, we have khichuri and maach bhaja or begun bhaja, just as you would at home."

Functioning as a home delivery cum catering service, a takeaway and restaurant, from noon to 3 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., the standees outside its door testify to Bangaliana's culinary claims. Every meal with a non-veg dish can be had for between Rs. 40 to Rs. 95 per head. Isn't that a steal?

The food is served on a thala-bati, small katoris arrayed around a mound of white rice on a plate accompanied by the day's choice of dal and vegetables. The musurir dal (masoor) is delicately flavoured with turmeric and red chilli, tempered with just randhuni (ajwain). It goes perfectly with the farm-fresh shukto at room temperature with each bite of bittergourd, drumstick or plantain yielding ginger-mustard notes, hinting at panch phoron (the traditional mix of whole seeds). The alu-piaj koli is irresistible with the crunchy spring onion blending into the cooked potato and it is very lightly spiced. For zest, we demolish some straw-fried potatoes that whet our appetite.

Now for the fish. We try each with a little rice. The chingri jhal is exquisite, its light gravy of ginger and kala jeera helping the juicy prawns come into their own. The rui kalia is richer, each chunk of succulent rohu done to an exacting tenderness. Next comes pabpa shorse, a whole pink-bellied Indian butterfish, the subtle mustard curry enhancing its flakiness. But our pick of the day was doi pona, a generous slice of plump fish perfectly at home in its sweetish yoghurt gravy.

As a diversion, we sample the mangshor jhol (chunks of mutton and potato redolent of ginger, dhania and jeera). To top off our feast, we lick at digestive, sweet-sour aam chutney (diced mango afloat in syrup).

Ghosh babu will not allow us to leave without sampling his "outsourced sweets", no matter how replete we are. So, we dip into mishti doi, much lighter and less sweet than the usual product. As for the tender, plump rossogolla, it is less cloying and sugary than most.

Bangaliana is located at 355, 1st B Main, 7th Block, Koramangala, opp. HDFC Bank or one could call 25711058/ 98453-66458 to get to know more of this lovely eat-out.

ADITI DE

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