A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

{this festival ends on 12 October, so make sure you find time over the weekend to go have a meal here}

Going to chefs' tables and restaurants that go all out to wow you, is quite the occupational hazard in a food blogger's life, if you ask me. Especially if you don't want to buy new jeans every couple of months. But once in a while, you get an invite that seems to hint, that it is going to be worth the calorie overload. Chef Anirban Dasgupta pinged me about this modern take on Bengali cuisine that they were doing at Ministry of Food and I was quite keen to try it out. I love ethnic Indian foods in their pure form, but when talented chefs want to attempt to present it in a modern, chic form, it gets me curious, to say the least

That was the special menu designed as a part of the festival

Ghol is a typical Bengali drink, a lighter version of lassi - in this case had the delicate fragrance of gondhoraj limes, and topped with some lime infused foam. This was served as the amuse bouche. While the process of topping the glass with foam adds a bit of drama to the course, it fell flat and couldn't hold its shape. I'd be happier just with the gondhoraj infused jhol, and a smaller glass at that

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

One of the starters that were served where the Mochar steak, which was a banana flower filling inside a cabbage leaf, coated with coconut crumb and deep fried. While the banana flower filling was hearty and flavoursome, the cabbage leaf dampened the flavours, and the coconut crumb along with the leaf had absorbed lots of oil in the frying process. I appreciate that they tried to get me something vegetarian, outside of their prepared menu while trying out various methods to present these traditional Bengali dishes in a unique way. Chef Subhash was keen on rectifying this to make it a less oilier and better dish. My dining partner tried the mutton cutlet, which had a beautifully golden crust and no excess oil on the top

The Prawn Kabiraji served as a part of the starters in tempura style has an interesting history. According to the website, Memories of Bengal,

"the Bengali cutlet is different from the cutlets of the Brits, this is referred typically to a crumb coated thinly spread out dough, made generally of chicken/mutton minced, mixed together with onion, bread crumbs and chillies. Generally it is then dipped in egg and coated in breadcrumb, fried and served with thin julienne of cucumber, carrots, radish and onions. Often an egg mixed with a teaspoon or two water and a pinch of salt is dropped on top of the frying cutlet, to make it into a "Kabiraji" the Bengali pronunciation of a "Coverage or Cover:Egg" Cutlet, influenced by the British."
A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

Aloo Batar Sorshe was the other starter, served in a Batar or mortar, like you see in the picture. These are not baby potatoes, but regular potatoes- boiled, mashed, seasoned and coated with tempura batter, fried until crispy outside. The kashundi sauce coating over the fried mashed potatoes gave it the right kind of flavour kick. I'd think it would make a perfect cocktail snack, albeit a high carb one

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

The Aam Pora Granita which was served as a palate cleanser before the mains made an appearance was one of the dishes that totally wowed me, in terms of flavours and presentation. The granita bursting with flavours of a Bengali style aam-panna made from charred raw mangoes, was placed on a crispy chocolate soil. Pistachios and dried apricot bits gave it company. The vodka mint jelly strip added to the glamour quotient of the dish, it was beautifully executed like a glass strip across the plate

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

While there are no courses as such in Indian cuisines, as most dishes are served all at once, it was interesting how a dalna was served as a main in a specially crafted stoneware, all by itself. Chenna balls and broccoli pakoda in a light curry base, topped with some chilli-mustard oil was a delicious combination of flavours. The other main course was simple gobindbhog steamed rice (that is inherently very fragrant) layered with the humble chorchori in a glass jar

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

A special mention needs to be made about the attention to detail to presenting every single dish in a serveware that will highlight it to the maximum. Another Pulao served with lamb curry came in a bright red coloured tagine dish

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

Chef Subhash

After the Aam Pora Granita, the expectations from the dessert course were quite high. A trio of desserts served on a wooden platter garnished with bright edible flowers was indeed a photographer's delight. Personally I found the Mishti Doi semifreddo enveloped in white chocolate quite cloying as the sweetness of the latter killed the delicate flavour of the Doi. The Patishapta which is traditionally a crepe filled with jaggery coconut filling was filled with a cheesecake like mix, didn't quite cut it for me as it felt dried out. The tastes struggled to live up to the stunning appearance of the dessert platter

A Modern take on Bengali Cuisine at Ministry of Food - Hilton Bangalore

Overall, it's an experiment and a bold one at that, to serve Bengali food, that is modernised and in courses. I could see that a lot of thought had been put into planning and executing this menu. The festival is on until 12 Oct so if you love to experiment with Indian cuisine, I think you'll love what's on offer here. I do wish they extend this by a week at least


Modern Bengali Cuisine festival

Ministry of Food

Hilton Bangalore Residence Hotel

Embassy Golf Links Business Park,

Chalaghatta, Bengaluru

Phone - 080-66799999

(c) Nandita Iyer 2006-2015

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