Bangla Food fest at Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Chitol Macher Kalia at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Chitol Macher Kalia

As much as I crave a good sambar rice, I hanker for Ilish Bhapa with equal fervor. My love for Bengali food often sees me land uninvited to Bengali homes. I unabashedly ask for leftovers of macher johol (yes they taste better the next day) and even tag along with Bengali friends to Durga Puja for the mahaprasad of khichuri and bhaja. So when I heard Sofitel Mumbai BKC had a East Bengal / Bangladesh food festival I did the obvious – drove there and ate till I was in food coma!

East Bengal/ Bangladeshi food is very similar to West Bengal barring the fact that Bangladeshi food has a slight Mughlai touch. Both cuisine favour fish and the use of mustard and poppy seeds are similar. The food festival at Novotel is put together by chef Sirajul from Novotel Kolkata.

Chicken Kabiraj at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Chicken Kabiraj

We started with a non vegetarian snack – Chicken Kabiraj. It’s a cutlet made with minced chicken and spices dipped in egg and coated with breadcrumbs. Like other chop cutlets, this recipe too is the result of British influence on the Bengali cuisine. Needless to say it was crunchy on the outside and succulent inside. Though I missed Illish bhapa  one of my favourite Bengali dishes, I was glad to see another favourite – Kosha Mangsho – a mutton dish. The perfectly cooked, juicy meat had a Mughlai touch with the use of whole spices and a thin layer of oil floating over it. Yummy. The Katla Macher Kalia (fish curry) was heady from the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, chillies and ginger paste.

Jhinge Aloo Poshto at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Jhinge Aloo Phosto

The amount of respect Bengalis pay to vegetables is unprecedented. Simple ridgegaurd is elevated with the use of poppy seeds and mustard paste in Jinghe Posto. It goes beautifully with steamed rice. The simple yellow dal tempered with mustard seeds is akin to the Maharashtrian waran with strong hints of ghee.

Bongs love to have their fish in unthinkable ways. Apart from frying, steaming, baking and dunking it in gravies they also put it in pulao! The Ilish Polao a great combination of spicy Ilish with rice was full of depth. Though Bengali food is known for its liberal use of green chilies, and Bangladesh in particular is famed for having some of the hottest dishes in the world, the dishes at the food festival have been toned down to suit various palates. Among the desserts I loved the misti doi and gurer kheer.

Dessert platter - Mohan Bhog, Malai Sandwich & Mishti Doi at the Bangladeshi food festival at Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Mohan Bhog, Malai sandwich and Mhisti Doi

Pondicherry Café the venue of the festival is dressed in Bangla fervor with a cycle tonga at the entrance, terracotta pots and jhal muri cycles.

Where: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC

Date: 18th to 27th March 2016

Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards

Price: Rs 3,400 (all inclusive)

For reservations, call +91 (22) 6117 5115



Love Bengali food? hop to 25 Parganas, Sahara Star – My review


You don’t have to be a home sick Bengali to enjoy 25 Parganas. This new restaurant at Sahara Star will whet your appetite; make you look up recipes and in extreme case head to the East to discover more. The ambiance pays an artistic tribute to Bengal – gramophones, Bengali books and melodious Rabindra Sangeet in the background.

Making the strongest impression is Kaekda chingri bhapa – a combination of crab meat and prawns steamed with hints of chilli, garlic and mustard.

Ilish Maacher Paturi - boneless Hilsa with mustard
Ilish Maacher Paturi – boneless Hilsa with mustard

If you love fish but find it difficult to handle the bones go for Ilish maacher paturi, a mustard spiked and deboned Hilsa which comes under a blanket of banana leaf. For the Maacher Jhol (fish curry) the restaurant lets you choose your fish – ilish, rui, pabda, chitol or bhetki. Trade off the rotis and rice for the soft and fluffy luchi, best eaten with spicy Kosha Mangsho, a slow cooked mutton curry. Chef Prasanjit Ghosh treats vegetables with the same care he expends to the fish.

Motorshuti chennar chop a cutlet with paneer and green peas just melts in the mouth.

Motorshuti Chennar Chop - patties with cheese and green peas
Motorshuti Chennar Chop – patties with cheese and green peas


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Beet Bora – deep fried Beetroot cutlet


Bhaja Bhetki - mustard marinated crispy Bhetki fillet
Bhaja Bhetki – mustard marinated crispy Bhetki fillet

The legendary cholar dal crackles with fresh coconut and whole spices. The sauces on the table are so tantalizing that you want to erase every trace before you let it go.  Indecisive sweet tooths should go for the Nolen Gur ice-cream.

Maccher jhol, Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton), Chicken curry, Cholar Dal, Rice and luchis
Maccher jhol, Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton), Chicken curry, Cholar Dal, Rice and luchis

However not all dishes are stellar. The Daab Chingri presented in a coconut shell is quite unremarkable with its flavours drowned in too much sweetness. Avoid.

Service rivals food in its sumptuousness. The moment you’re seated, someone snaps a crisp linen and drapes it across your lap. They are quiet when you want them to be, animated when you desire some attention.

COST: Rs 6000 for two with alcohol

HOW TO GET THERE: Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Santacruz East. Vile Parle. Mumbai. Tel: 022-3980 7162.