Banga Bhawan sits pretty on No. 3 Hailey Road, just off Kasturba Gandhi Marg, tucked behind the high rises of Connaught Place in New Delhi. As we turned into the serene lane it seemed we had detached from the din of Delhi barring the sound of an occasional car whizzing past.
At Banga Bhawan ignore the first gate labelled For VIPs only. The gate for lesser humans who don’t possess a white ambassador car with a laal batti (red beacon) is right adjacent to it. As Aalok Wadhwa, Pawan Soni & I entered through the lesser gate, the imposing structure of Banga Bhawan loomed over our heads.
We inquired and climbed our way to the foodieteria on the first floor. It was obvious; we avoided the solitary elevator for health reasons. Assuming to arrive at a demure canteen, we were pleasantly surprised to walk into a well lit decently sized restaurant operated by “Bijoli Grill” – renowned caterers from Kolkatta. A separate section in the eatery was cordoned off for us IFFians who were visiting their precincts for a specially crafted “Bangla Alimentaire” thali.
We thought we were early, but Nidhika Jindal from Chandigarh was there even earlier. We were subsequently joined by Chinmoy Chauhan, Sumeet Dhupar, Shakti Khanna & Navin Sellaraju and afternoon got on to the afterburner. From the kitchen front started flying out some really amazing and enormous mutton chops – crisp on the outside and soft on the inside – brilliantly textured. The vegetarian chop was of an equally well fried proportion – the crunch added by the filling of assorted vegetables was perfectly styled. However, the mercurial high point of the chops was in the homemade kasundhi (Bengali mustard paste). Kasundhi surely gave the wasabi paste a run for its money today.
The first serving of laanch (lunch) arrived with a double “rice” trouble. Two huge mounds of Ghee Bhat (rice) and Plain Basmati Rice – perfectly complementing the Indian proverb “grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together”. The pre-plated rice was accompanied with lightly spiced Begun Bhaja (fried eggplant). As the Daal (red lentils) and Aloo Poshto (potatoes) landed on the tables and the attack began. While the daal was yellow, pleasant and tastefully light, the aloo poshto failed to hit the mark with the most. The general feeling was that it lacked enough poshto (poppy seeds) hence the kick was absent. The conversations that ranged from food to food and more food were captured perfectly by Pawan’s lenses.
Next to appear on the non vegetarian scene was Fish Kalia (fried fish in thick gravy) & Kosha Mangsho (dry and spicy mutton). The vegetarian front got servings of Chhaanar Dalna (cottage cheese in rich gravy) and Potoler Dolma (stuffed pointed gourd or parwal in gravy). Mixed opinions followed. While the purists thought the fish and mutton were a bit off the mark, the modest ones just enjoyed the hefty servings thoroughly. Veggies just loved their stuff. My personal opinion on both stables – Mangsho was nice enough though could have been spicier but Chhaanar could have completely avoided.
To wrap up the meal, the ever gracious, smiling stewards presented exquisite tomato chutney with fried papad (poppadums). The experience of leftover rice with crushed papad topped up with chutney and then downed was just perfect.
Mishti Doi (sweetened curd) was the final dessert drop and disappeared almost as soon as it appeared despite claims that Mother Dairy did a better job.
Around this time we were joined by Chef Joy & his lovely wife Shree who while relishing their thalis gave us detailed insights into Bangla food. To flow in later were the Tiwari sisters (Abhilasha & Amita) who happily conceded to Pawan’s demands of posing for the moment of click while gulping their food down.
Summing it up, technicalities notwithstanding, everyone enjoyed the food and each other’s company. Innately, the two cornerstones of a fun filled afternoon on an Indian Food Freak BadaKhana?
Ed: Bijoli Grill Thalis start from Rs. 60 and can go up to Rs. 150. The outlet serves a la carte meals and snacks as well. Our special thali was priced at Rs. 350 and is not on their regular menu. To know more about Badakhana (Foodwalk) and to accompany us on future visits, join us at www.facebook.com/groups/indianfoodfreak
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs600| Alcohol: No | Credit Card: No| Timing: 12noon – 11:30PM
Address: Banga Bhawan, 3 Hailey Road (Near Kasturba Gandhi Marg), New Delhi | Phone: 98111-11030