Bengali food is what I grew up on. Bengali Cuisine is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of comfort food. Recently, we received an invite from Grand Hyatt Mumbai to review the Bengali Food Festival menu at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Being Bengalis, AN and I were curious to taste the #MahaBanglaBhoj delicacies.
The #MahaBanglaBhoj ended two days back. Although the food festival has ended as of now, we thought it would be nice to introduce our readers to the Bengali food at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, so that they get an idea of the food to be served at the next Bengali Food Festival whenever they plan to. Here’s my honest review as a Bengali food critic.
As soon as we were seated there, we were greeted by Chef Partha from Grand Hyatt Kolkata. He mentioned that the Maha Bangla Bhoj was available for dinner from 10th to 24th February, 2016. Soma looked beautiful with the beautiful terracotta serveware. The serving staff wore traditional dhuti-panjabi and sari worn in Bengali style. The ambience was good, but the décor surrounding this theme was minimal. We would have loved Bengali music in the backdrop. We skipped the wine and cocktail menu and asked for traditional Bengali drinks. We sipped some Ghol (synonymous to Lassi, but much lighter), which was made by diluting curd. It was a nice drink, and although simple, it hit the right notes!
In the appetiser section, we ordered delicacies that reminded us of the City of Joy. We had an outstanding British-cuisine-inspired Bhetki Kobiraji (Kolkata Bhetki fillet coated and fried in crispy and lacy egg coverage). This was a filling dish, and it was served with a chutney made by mixing ketchup and Kasundi (Bengali mustard sauce). The only issue which always bothers us about any Kobiraji in general is that it always ends up soaking extra oil! This Bhetki Kobiraji at Soma, although delicious, was a bit oily.
The Koraishutir Chop tasted good, but was a bit disappointing too. The star ingredient in this chop–the koraishuti (peas)–did not dominate the dish. It was more of potatoes and less of peas!
The Narkeler Bora was, however, was delicious! Crispy from outside and textured from inside, this was made from freshly grated coconut, mixed with minimal spices. Although a Bengali like me would prefer to eat this with rice, having this separately as an appetiser is a good idea.
We also ordered the Bata Chingri Bora. Small shrimps were stone-ground to a paste, mixed with green chillies and onion, and shaped into round, flat boras. This appetizer is one of the best at Soma #MahaBanglaBhoj. The dish is a perfect example of Bengali style of cooking, which doesn’t use loads of spices. Although a bit oily, we loved it for its authenticity in taste.
The menu looked great, but somehow, I was missing the Kolkata Biryani, Mug Dal and Pora Aamer Shorbot (Aam Panna) in the menu. However, I did appreciate the presence of the dishes like Galda Chingri Malai Curry (scampi cooked in onion, coconut and cashewnut gravy), Bhetki Paturi (whole-grain-mustard-marinated Bhetki fish fillet steak) and Shukto (raw banana, drumsticks, bitter gourd, sweet potato and raw papaya cooked in milk). In the Main course, there was a Crab Masala. I am still wondering if any Bengali would love to call the traditional Kakrar Jhal or Kakrar Jhol as Crab Masala! Obviously, if it was a real Crab Masala, it should not have appeared in a Bengali menu as it is not a Bengali dish. If it is a Kakrar Jhal or Kakrar Jhol, which are two different versions of Bengali-style crab curry, it is always welcome! Nomenclature matters.
We tried the Daab Chingri instead. The Daab Chingri was one of the best Daab Chingris that we till date. Those tiger prawns cooked in tender coconut shell, with a slightly sweet, creamy gravy, tasted heavenly! We highly recommend our readers to try Chef Partha’s Daab Chingri. It was totally worth the experience. Also, the amount of prawns inside the shell was good enough!
Flavourwise, the Kosha Mangsho (a traditional lamb preparation) was okayish. Although it could have been a little spicier, the main issue was the meat. The mutton pieces were very rubbery, and on chewing the first piece of the Kosha Mangsho, I could easily tell that the meat was not of a young goat, but an old one. Consequently, the meat was very dry, tough and non-slippery from inside. We tasted a portion of the Kosha Mangsho with Luchi.
The Dhokar Dalna was well-cooked. The curry with Bengal-gram-fried patties cooked in an onion and tomato gravy tasted good.
We have a special affinity for the vegetarian Chenar Dalna: cottage cheese dumpling cooked in onion and cashewnut gravy. It was pure perfection and one of the best dishes served on that day. The paneer was soft and lightly fried and the gravy had the right balance of flavours. Spot on!
We enjoyed the thick Cholar Dal with some puffed-up Luchi. It just had a hint of sweetness. The roasted and ground spices mixed in the dal, were a perfect addition. I was glad that the dal was not overcooked and hence, retained some of its texture, which is a very important aspect while cooking Cholar Dal. Bengalis love this dal with additional texture (which comes from toasted coconut pieces and raisins). Undoubtedly, we loved the Cholar Dal at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, and it fulfilled our expectations of an authentic Bengali Cholar Dal.
Among the desserts, we ordered the Natun Gurer Payesh. It was tasty and perfect in sweetness. However, the consistency of the Paayesh was not right. The ratio of rice to milk needed to be checked while cooking. The Paayesh was very thick. Also, the rice pudding hardly smelled of Nolen gur (Bengal’s popular aromatic date jaggery). It needed little more jaggery for the characteristic aroma and flavour of a Nolen-gur-based dessert.
We signed off with yummy Mishti Paan, which was just the right way to end an elaborate Bengali meal with a smile! Overall, our experience at the #MahaBanglaBhoj was good. We thank Chef Partha and Grand Hyatt Mumbai for treating us with flavourful Bengali dishes. We hope that the issues with some of the dishes would be taken care of in the future in all the upcoming Bengali food festivals.
For more details and to make reservations at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, please call 91 22 66761149. Please note that the Maha Bangla Bhoj has now ended.
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