Sofitel Mumbai BKC has come up with an Authentic Bangladeshi Food Festival at Jyran. In the third edition of their home-chef series, the award-winning restaurant called Jyran in Sofitel Mumbai BKC, once again brings you delectable food made by the best of the homechefs. This time, it is none other than Chef Nayana Afroz from Bangladesh, whose culinary skills are quite popular in both West Bengal and Bangladesh. Having heard and read so much about her in social media, I was really looking forward to get a taste of Nayana’s talent. Very recently, I got the opportunity to taste her fantastic dishes in the Bangladeshi Food Festival in Jyran, where Chef Nayana has curated the menu. She explained how Bangladeshi Bengali food is very different than Indian Bengali food. In fact, Bangladeshi cuisine is quite influenced by Persian, Mughal and Southeast Asian cooking. The food of Bangladesh is markedly distinct from both Indian and Pakistani food. She told us stories about her travels to the interiors of Bangladesh, from where she would pick up traditional Bangladeshi Muslim recipes. A few of these dishes have been showcased in the ongoing and one-of-its-kind food festival in Jyran. The festival which started on 12th April, will continue till 21st April, for lunch and dinner.
According to me, Jyran is one of the best places to dine at, especially around the Bengali New Year or Poila Boisakh. There, the food by Chef Nayana Afroz is like a poetry in itself. It has the potential to make any food connoisseur happy with a smorgasbord of ingredients, flavours, aroma and colours. Through the series of Bangladeshi dishes that I tasted, I could easily tell that here is someone who thoroughly knows her food culture and is proud of showcasing the food of her country. Bangladeshi food is simply lip-smacking and steeped in rich food history! I can’t wait to go back for more.
Native to Sylhet, the Shatkora, a bitter and highly fragrant citrus fruit and very different than Gondhoraaj Lebu of Bengal, is used in a few of the dishes. Since the rustic Bhortaa or mash is very famous in Bangladesh, Chef Nayana has showcased this dish as well. She particularly emphasised that milk-based sweets are sometimes made with milk powder in Bangladesh, but the Nolen Gur has outstanding flavour and aroma owing to the favourable climate of Bangladesh and its riverine geography. So, even the sweets are mind-blowing. Last but not the least, the Hilsa or the Ilish fish in Bangladesh is what dreams are made up of… the Bangladeshi Ilish’s unique flavour and aroma is truly revered all over the world.
We tried one of their signature set menus. The Signature Paya Yakhni Jyran Soup was, as usual, very light and flavourful. The lamb trotters were fall-off-the-bone delicious. The Bangladeshi appetizers were quite interesting, too! The Chicken Jaali Kebab, for instance, was a chicken-mince patty shallow-fried to perfection. The slight touch of egg wash over the patty gives a nice flavour and slight crunch.
Next up, the Mutton Hari Kebab, was cooked in a Haari or Clay Pot. The slow-cooked mutton chunks reminisce of the wonderful Bangladeshi spices. The rich colour and the robust flavour of this dish is truly like none other.
The Prawn Patora reminded me of the fishcakes that we had in Asian countries. The Bangladeshi version of the fishcakes using prawn paste as the base is something worth trying. Not bland as compared to the Asian counterparts, the Bangladeshi Prawn Patora is juicy and richly flavoured with onions, coriander and a good touch of mustard. Another dish, the Bangladeshi Vegetable Roll, was treated with a gentle layer of egg wash before frying. It was a good appetizer for sure, with crispy exterior and flavourful vegetable stuffing inside.
We started the main course with an excellent Bangladeshi Mutton Razela, cooked with a delicate balance of choicest spices in a rich onion and yogurt gravy.
Another dish, but with chicken, is an eye-opener. We welcomed the real Murgh Musallam, cooked under the supervision of Chef Nayana, with utmost respect. The dish was fantastic, with chicken cooked in a tomato- and saffron-based gravy. This was different than a few Murgh Musallam versions that we ate elsewhere. The only issue with Jyran’s Murgh Musallam was that the quality of chicken was not good: the meat was quite dry and rough.
The next dish blew up our mind. The Narkeli Hash is perhaps the best and a must-try! Meltingly soft legs of duck cooked lovingly in a potent gravy of coconut paste, coconut slivers and milk: this is one of the best duck curries that we have eaten till date. Also, this is one dish that we will remember forever and whenever we will think of it, we will remember the superb chef, too!
There was Paneer Kofta Curry, too! Perfect balls of cotton-soft cottage cheese being treated to mild spices, elevated our experience further. The paneer koftas rested in a creamy yogurt and almond gravy.
Ash gourd preparations bring a smile to our faces. We have plenty of ash gourd preparations in Bengal, too! But this dish is quite different: it tasted like a royal Mughlai dish with a creamy and slightly sweet gravy. The pieces of ash gourd soothed our tastebuds, having tasted rich paneer, mutton, chicken and duck-based dishes just before that. The Shahi Jali Kumra Bhaji was quite an inspiration.
Next up, the Cholar Daler Turai is a close cousin of our own Bengali Cholaar Daal. We liked the fact that each grain of dal was cooked just right, without being mashed up even a bit. The texture was bit different than the Indian Bengali Cholaar Dal, but the common thread of opaar bangla tied us up in a beautiful bond of known flavours and inviting texture.
Khichuri (Khichdi) in Bengal is quite different than the Khichuri of Bangladesh. The texture of the Bangladeshi Khichuri is similar to a Pulav, and each grain is separate, as in Biryani, but not totally like Biryani. Leaving the whole confusion of Pulav, Biryani and Khichuri apart, we simply relished each morsel of this divine dish called Chanadal Mutton Khichudi. I loved the use of Bengal gram in this dish. It added so much texture and married the flavours of lamb chunks and aromatic rice very well. The main-course dishes (apart from the Khichuri) came with a choice of different Indian breads like Naan Makhani, Aabi Roti, Tandoori Roti and Missi Roti.
We never expected that raw mangoes taste so well even in a dessert! Green Mango Halwa was a welcome change to the flavour palate and we were surprised to taste hints of sourness in a sweet halwa. This was very different, as it broke the monotony of sweetness with occasional peek-a-boo of raw mango shreds. A very flavourful dish indeed!
Finally, the Sewai or the vermicelli kheer ended the big, fat Bangladeshi feast on a gentle, sweet note. I am looking forward to tasting more of the Bangladeshi dishes, especially the Hilsa or Ilish fish preparations, on my next visit. Nayana Afroz’s food felt like a deep, forgotten connection to our own East Bengal roots, an experience that will be etched in our minds forever.
Time: Lunch – 12 pm to 3 pm; Dinner – 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Date: 12th to 21st April 2019
Venue: Jyran – Tandoor Dining & Lounge, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
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