Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Launch of Sunday Brunch at Durbari @ Swissotel

To begin with Durbari at the Swissotel, Kolkata is my actually my son's most favourite restaurant. So whenever we find ourselves craving for that creamy Dal makhni and soft fluffy Naan we head there. The fact that it is close to where I live only adds to the cause! In the last 2 years we have lost count on the no of times we've been there. So when KFB got an invite from Swissotel asking us to be a part of the launch of their Sunday Brunch there was no saying no. On a Sunday afternoon, myself along with  fellow bloggers Kamalika, Amrita,Anwesha, Sayantani,Pritha and Sammya Brata, we found ourselves comfortably seated in the private dining area of the restaurant ready to sample to delicacies on offer.

We started with the usual fresh lime soda and soon the array of dishes started arriving at our table. The very first dish served to us was the Dahi ke Kebabs. Crunchy on the outside with cold youghurt mix oozing out from inside did wonders to the taste buds.I have tried this out a couple of times on my earlier visits and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Dahi ke kebabs
From now onwards there was a steady trickle of dishes - appetizers and starters and each dish stole the show. Chef Pranay and Chef Aditya was constantly by our side explaining the essence of the dishes. The Gondhoraj Mahi Tikka was the show stealer for sure. I am not much of a fish eater but totally loved this dish. Soft pieces of bhetki delicately flavoured with quintessential Bengal's gondhoraj lime and its Asian counterpart Kaffir lime leaves was a perfect match. Or take the Naaza ( Naan - Pizza) so innovative,so tasty! Butter chicken spread over naan base topped with some generous dollops of cheese - my god it was fantastic. Next time I am going to go back for just this!
Gondhoraj Mahi tikka
Another of Chef's creation for the afternoon was the Murgh Balai Kebab( Chicken breasts stuffed with cheese,onions and pomegranate) grilled to perfection. Personally I would have liked a little less onions as the stuffing but it was good nonetheless. A special mention of Aashish - the restaurant manager here who shared his vision of the food they present at Durbari. You will find a little of everything here - Mughlai , Bengali as well as South Indian. They ensure that they are open to feedback and customise the dishes to suit the palate of business travellers mostly visiting the city from other countries. To make sure that they get a taste of India they are open to modification which is a wonderful gesture.

Murgh Balai kebab
No my friends this was not the end! The entire buffet spread replete with more starters, salads and main course awaited us. The spread was awesome and they would have a new menu every sunday. How could I go to Durbari and not eat their Dal Durbari and Cheese Naan(stuffed with swiss cheese). I was full up till my neck but the greed got better of me! In the meanwhile I will leave you with some images.

Dalcha Kebab
Cheese Naan
All these yummy dips are in house made
Well what more can I say. The dessert counter was calling out to me and my love for Indian desserts got the better of me. So I promptly filled up my plate with Mango Ras malai , Rabdi and my most favourite Mihidaana. For the uninitiated what mihidaana is, please refer to the picture below! There was a balanced mix of traditional and modern desserts as you can see.

So there! Once again the food ( not to forget the hospitality) at Durbari stole my heart away and I ended the meal promising myself to be back very soon with the son and husband in tow.

Functional from Tuesday to Sunday between 1900 hrs to 2300 hrs,the restaurant is open for lunch from 12:30 hrs to 15:00 hrs on weekends as well. Mondays are closed.
The Sunday Brunch is available every Sunday and the packages start at INR 1000 plus taxes.

For people living in New Town/ Rajarhat and Salt Lake it is imperative that you visit them atleast once for their Dal Durbari - they make it the best in town. And for those of you who live in the other side of the city - one trip can surely be made soon!

Disclaimer - This was an invited review and no compensation monetary or otherwise was involved.

Monday, June 23, 2014

An afternoon with the Grand Master Chef @ ITC Sonar

When KFB got an invite from ITC Sonar to a part of their press lunch with the Grand Master Chef Imtiaz Qureshi there was no way I could say no. I had heard a lot about the man solely responsible for bringing the royal cuisine to the masses.Chef Imtiaz Qureshi has an impeccable lineage, his ancestors were cooks in the royal courts of Awadh where Dum Pukht originated some 200 years ago. Now when you get an opportunity to be a part of such history you do jump with joy. Chef Qureshi presents some of his best creations from a culinary journey which spans over 50 years. A burly old man with white hair and moustache, he gives out such positive vibes. You are only charmed as he shares with you anecdotes in pure Urdu. I was awed! And the fact that he has such a modernist approach to traditional cuisine only adds to his persona. I couldn't believe it when he said that he used olive oil for the Biryani - something only a man with so much experience can fathom.

Dum Pukht, ITC Sonar offers a fine dining experience serving food with a Royal lineage. Guests are guided through the menu and each dish is presented with signature service rituals.A dining experience here takes you back to the royal era and each dish has its own story. We had the privilege to sample some unique innovative dishes crafted by the Master Chef and his team.

Grand Master Chef Imtiaz Qureshi
We started with the Jhinga Qureshi ( Puff pastry covered jumbo prawns stuffed with dried apricot and cheese ) and Raan-e-Huzoor ( Baby lamb legs cooked on dum with date sauce)
It was a great start I must say - with me being totally bowled over by that Raan -meat literally falling of the bones and melting in your mouth.

The main course had a whole lot of dishes, the most innovative and totally new for me was the Samudri Ratan ( Soft marbles of fresh crabmeat in a tangy gravy ) which Chef told us was cooked with tamarind and raw mango extract.The Desi Murgh ishtew ( country chicken braised over slow fire  cooked with onion and other spices ) was a deviation from the normal stews that one could think of. Now if we are taking of Awadhi cuisine we have to talk meat. Koh e Awadh ( Chef's recipe of lamb shanks cooked in its juices and marrow) was delicate and flavourful. The meat again melting in your mouth. By now I was stuffed and in food heaven. The star dish here  for me was however the Dal Badami ( White urad dal cooked with almonds and spinach). A total exit from the signature Dal Dumpukht. This was light and creamy and totally balanced out the other dishes.

Finished our meal with the Dudhiya Biryani ( Tender lamb shanks cooked in milk) For dessert we had the famous Shahi Tukda and Lab-e- mashook ( Frozen dessert of reduced milk scented with orange)

The entire menu was graced beautifully with a fine spirit. Mr. Sandeep Arora  - the whiskey expert - curated the whole event and enlightened us  on whiskey pairing ( Royal Salute 21YO)

So there! If you love your Shorbas, kebabs,Qormas and Qaliyas you know what you need to so. Yes, head straight to ITC Sonar and be a part of this iconic food journey presented by the legend himself.

The Signature Collection is available at the Eden Pavillion from 22nd june to 30th june,2014 for Dinner.
It is a part of the Dinner Buffet - priced at INR 1850 plus applicable taxes per guest.
There is also the Royal Repast at Dum Pukht ( Dinner Only ) from 22nd June onwards priced at INR 6500 + taxes.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lamb Curry with Sweet potatoes - An experiment that turned out great.

I am not going to start with my usual story of why I was missing in action because by now the whole world knows that I was on a month long vacation! It was my son's summer vacation but I was the most excited one to be getting away from the heat wave that the city was facing at that time. Few days in my favourite city Delhi, then a few in  the picturesque and peaceful town of Kasauli and then finally few weeks at my mom's den.What more did I want..I was a happy soul. Ate a lot ,slept a lot, shopped a lot and spent a lot of time with my loved ones..I have come back with a lot of energy to get into everyday chores and be happy and busy.
Now this dish Lamb curry with sweet potatoes  is something I made before I went away but did not have the time to share with you all. It so happened that I was watching a show by Rachel Allen and it was an episode on robust meals and she made this lamb curry. Sweet potatoes is something we so use in our cooking but maybe would never really put it in a lamb curry. In my heart I felt that it would turn out good and I should give it a try. After all we Bengalis love our meat - Kosha Mangsho , Mongshor Jhol - we love all of that. This turned out to be a successful experiment so here I am sharing it with you all. Its different but it is nice. Very clean flavours, a little tang from the yoghurt and soft meat from the slow cooking. I skipped adding sugar as I was using sweet potatoes and it went perfectly with steamed rice.


Lamb/mutton - curry cut - 500 gms

Onion - 2 medium - thinly sliced

Ginger - 1 tbsp.- grated

Garlic - 1 tbsp.- grated

Cardamom pods - 4-5 crushed

Roasted cumin powder - 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder - 1 tsp

Kashmiri chilli powder - 1 tbsp

Sweet potatoes - 2 medium - cut into big chunks

Fresh mint leaves - a handful - finely chopped

Yoghurt/Curd - 1 cup

Red chillies/green chillies - 2-3 - finely sliced - adjust acc to taste

Salt - to taste

Refined oil - 2 tbsp

Warm water - 1 cup

Toasted almond flakes - for garnish


In a heavy bottomed pan heat 2 tbsp. of refined oil. Once done add the mutton pieces and sear on high heat for 10 to 15 mins. Its important to keep it on high flames so that the moisture is sealed in. Remove from pan and let it rest.

In the same pan add the grated ginger,garlic and the crushed cardamom. Saute lightly and add the finely sliced onions. Fry on low heat till slightly golden in colour. Tip in the seared mutton and all the dry spices - roasted cumin powder ,turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder. Mix well with the mutton.

Next add the chunks of sweet potatoes.Add a cup of warm water,add salt,cover and let it cook for almost 45 mins on low heat. By now the meat would be soft and tender and the gravy would thicken.

Whisk the yoghurt well and add it to the pan.Also add the chopped mint leaves.  Mix well while adding the yoghurt so it doesn't split or curdle. Sprinkle the chopped chillies on top.
Remove from heat, garnish with toasted almonds and serve hot with rice.