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It is Durga Puja and the city has also gone frenzy way before its time. With every passing year, people start their celebration one day earlier. This year the trend seems to be right from Mahalaya. Offices are still on till Shashti, however that does not stop anyone from merrymaking. And by merry making, it culminates to eating out, attending local concerts and pandal hopping (well they are not complete yet, but quite a number of people are already flocking to see them before it gets too crowded).
The city hotels are also preparing themselves for the euphoria and the storm that is about to happen from the 6th of October onwards. Here are some of the best laid buffets in town to help with the holiday culinary planning.
Let us start with The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata and their Grand Pujor Mahabhoj at the banquet. Needless to say, Grand being grand will dish out an amazing array of traditional dishes from Bengal keeping in mind the spirit of Durga Puja. Luchi, ilish bhape, alur dom, shukto, basanti pulao and so on will be part of the buffet spread and every spread will see a different variety of dishes. The high point of this buffet is the in house made sweets which is quite unheard of. The rasgullas along with some delicate sandesh, rajbhog, kheer kadamb are all part of the exhilarating experience. The buffet will cost 2300 plus taxes and will be there for lunch and dinner from the 8th till the 10th of October and only lunch on the 11th of October.
Taj Bengal will have a special menu in all its restaurants (Hub, Souk and Sonargaon) in either buffet or set meal format except Chinoiserie, where there will be an extended menu during the Puja days, however only on á la carte. But watch out for the special amish thali (non veg thali) and niramish thali (vegetarian thali) at Sonargaon which will see the inclusion of authentic Bengali recipes in a large platter from bhaja mugger dal, chingri malai curry, sorse bata ilish, kosha mangsho and bhapa misti doi. Prepared from recipes from households of Bengal, enjoy the regal touch as you dine out on silver. The chingri and ilish thali would cost 2700 plus taxes, amish thali at 2500 plus tax and niramish at 2200 plus tax. The festival would be on from the 7th till the 11th October for both lunch and dinner services.
The Gateway Hotel, which has been making a lot of waves in Bangladeshi specialties will do a feature on epar Bangla and opar Bangla dishes, essentially boiling down to dishes from West Bengal and Bangladesh. Some dishes which are bound to knock you out are maankochu diye chingrir bhorta, khasir gelasi, doi sorshe diye mangsho, aar er bharta, pabdar jhal, prawn musallam, chhanar korma, koraishuti diye fulkopir bati chorchori, sea food live station, enchorer kalia and kucho chingrir pulao etc. The buffet will start from 8th October for dinner and then will go on till 10th of October for both services at 1600 plus taxes. The mouth-watering buffet spread also includes two small pegs of blended scotch whiskey/ vodka/ two glasses of domestic beer or mocktail/ aerated water/ preserved juices.
Durga Puja feast at Aaheli at Peerless Inn are almost synonymous. For this Durga Puja 2016, Aaheli has launched a grand new menu which includes some traditional and some very unsual dishes such as patay mora chingri bhaja, pur bhora bhekti, rui macher patishapta, dal Rai Bahadur, kankhito kankaar jhal, aaheli bhoj, rajbhoj, bhuribhoj and the likes of it. The banquet will host a special Sarodiya buffet from 7th October till 11th October with a myriad of dishes from across Bengal. It will come at 1475 plus taxes and 1995 plus taxes with unlimited Balentine scotch plus wine and beer. The buffet with Blender’s Pride plus wine and beer would cost 1695 plus taxes.
To indulge in a collection of authentic Bengali delicacies, Kalash at HHI is perhaps a very popular destination, more so because of its central location. ‘Roshonar Kella’, an event that offers an exquisite range of authentic traditional Bengali food, features live stations of topshe fry, karaisutir kachori, postor bora, bok phool bhaja, tok doier chop and much more. The special buffet highlights are roopchanda masala, shorshe bhuna ilish, gosht rezala, narkeli chingri, kakrar jhal, mochar paturi, chhanar kofta, patisapta, and much more. Rapture this monarch of delicious food items on all days of Puja for lunch and dinner service along with live music performance.
The Square at Novotel is starting their Bengali food festival quite early from the 6th October and will continue till the 12th October. The lunch priced at 1400 plus taxes and dinner at 1800 plus taxes will have a multitude of dishes to please your palette. The highlight of the course would be a phuchka, jhalmuri, ghooghni and roll counter.
Enjoy divinity on a plate with a special menu of traditional favourites such as kosha mangsho, bhapa maach, murgi kalia, aloo golmorich, motorsutir kochuri and many more at Cafe Swiss of Swissotel. Along with the Bengali fare, there will be a variety of continental dishes on offer in the buffet as well. Both for lunch and dinner, the lunch is set at 1200 plus taxes and 2000 plus taxes with unlimited alcoholic beverages. Dinner buffet is set at 1900 plus taxes. On the other hand, Durbari is presenting a set of vegetarian and non vegetarian thali with Bengali dishes from the 6th till the 11 October for lunch and dinner at 1500 plus taxes for vegetarian and 1800 plus taxes for non vegetarian.
If you are looking for some contemporary dishes at a lavish indoor and outdoor setting, rush to Jhaal Farezi to experience dishes such as murgir ghoti kabab, char grilled moong dal steak with gondharaj infused basanti gravy, kanch kolar kofta, shor bhaja tiramisu, jorda rabri etc. at a throwaway price of 649 plus taxes during the Puja days.
Starting from 8th till 11th October First Innings – the multicuisine restaurant in Stadel is celebrating Sharod Utsav where they have named the festival as Durgapujar Mahabhoj. With live chat counters offering Kolkata's famous street food, phuchka to a full course meal which comprises of bhaja bhuji or the deep fried stuff, different torkaris such as chanar kofta, dhokar dalna and others. When it comes to fish, there is chindra bhapa, pabda tel bori jhal, katla kalia and others accompanied by morich murgiri jhol and mutton dukbanglow. The buffet is priced at 1199 plus taxes.
Although Durga Puja is for 4 days starting from the 6th day of Navratri but in Kolkata the celebration starts almost from the first day and with so much of food in the offering one would definitely need more than 4 days to sample all. Go take your pick!
A true blue Kolkata foodie, Anindya loves cooking and eating his Kosha Mangsho. Anindya weaves stories around food as he believes exceptional food is an emotional experience. Previously a restauranter, now a passionate photographer and traveller, he runs a successful blog called Pikturenama and contributes to other publications.