Calling all Bengalis
If you ever get a chance, try the breakfast buffet at ITC Royal Bengal in Kolkata sometime. It is served on the second floor in the Grand Pavilion. The name lives up to itself. The sheer size is mind boggling and the variety of food on display can be unnerving. There are about half a dozen very large food stations. And when I say large, I mean really large. Each food station can easily accommodate an entire floor of a reasonable house here. The staff is outstanding in their service and attention to details.
I had just finished my cup of tea and a masala dosa. That was more than enough food for me, if you ask me. But the allure of all the food on display was strong enough that even a confirmed non-foodie like me started strolling around. You know, to see what else was there.
By the time I had finished going around all the stations, I was feeling hungry again. Not sure whether it was the quarter mile walk I must have done to visit those stations or just the smell of great food wafting in the air that made me feel hungry.
Anyways, I reasoned with myself that I was really not hungry. I could not be. And kept walking. Till I turned around the corner of a station and saw this – “Panta Bhat”!!! Next to it was “knacha pniyaj” (raw onions), “sorsher tel” (mustard oil), “aloo bhaatey” (mashed potatoes with some garnishes) and “knacha lonka” (raw chillies). “Panta bhat” was the staple diet on weekend mornings for us in the village. It is basically rice left over from previous night soaked and fermented in water. Traditionally, we had it with the ingredients on display – and on a rare festive occasion, with “knacha posto” (soaked and ground poppy seed – to a paste form).
Man, seeing the “Panta Bhat”, I was hungry all over again.
I did what every self-respecting Bengali would do – I rolled up my sleeves and went into totally native “aloo bhaatey – pniyaaj haatey” mode. The only thing that could have made it better for me was if I had the guts to eat with my fingers. (I did not. I figured a seven star hotel might impose standards).
Interestingly last year this dish entered the MasterChef verse
Interestingly this particular dish entered the MasterChef verse last year
Wow! Tirtha, I was not aware of this!
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