Friday, August 29, 2014

Mama Mia! – New Flavours @ New Address

The pioneer of gelato, Mama Mia! is proud to announce the launch of its third gelateria and introduces its two new enthusiastic owners, and of course a whole new range of products and flavours. Present at the occasion on Wednesday, 27th August, 2014 at its new standalone store on Loudon Street to support the brand was Italian consulate Cesare Bieller.

Adhiraj and Akshat introduce to Kolkata for the first time the concept of Artisanal flavours keeping up to the Mama Mia! tradition. They are featuring unusual flavour combinations such as Berries and bluecheese gelato with a hint of rosemary (called the cheese platter) served with crackers and pecan nuts, basil cucumber and rose sorbet, caramel popcorn, sweetcorn and rocksalt, sesame walnut and honey, and pistachio biscotti, all for Rs 119+ taxes.

These flavours are only available as a limited feature and only from stores till stocks last. Gourmet gelatos are handcrafted and balanced by Akshat and Adhiraj personally. Besides gelato flavours, chocolate fondue platter is also a new addition, for Rs 319+taxes, made with their signature decadent chocolate truffle and accompanied by six new flavours of brownies, such as peanut butter, chocolate orange, dark fudge, and cakes of various kinds, and dulce de leche apple pie and chocolate glazed chocolate tart.

The third standalone store after Ballygunge and New Alipore this is a fifteen-seater at 12, Dr UN Brahmachari Street, Loudon StreetThe kiosks at Quest Mall and City Centre New Town, and a shop-in-shop with every Inox, were launched earlier keeping up with the phenomenal pace they expand even further. “We wanted a contemporary look which is reflected through the rough surfaces, warm wood, naked lights and pipes. Basically, gelato is a cold food item, so we have made the look deliberately warm to offset the cold feeling,” explains Adhiraj.

The concept of artisanal flavours is first of its kind in the country. “It’s an unusual or very exclusive flavor of gelato presented with flair. It’s experiencing dessert/gelato with an edge of fine dining perspective. Kolkata has a dearth of continental dessert places; it’s our endeavor to make Mama Mia! the dessert destination of the city,” explains Akshat.

“We try and come up with gourmet combinations that make for unusual experiences. We want to try and break mould and shift people from traditional chocolate and vanilla towards more experimental flavours. We would like to showcase an international experience,” says Adhiraj.

Disclaimer: PR Content.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bellini Manhattan for the Monsoons


·        1-1/2 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
·        1/2 part peach puree
·        3/4 part sweet red vermouth
·        Dash Liquid Kitchen™ Golden Era or orange bitters
·        3/4 part splash brut champagne

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Measure in the Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, peach puree and vermouth. Add a dash of bitters. Cap and shake. Strain into large martini glass. Add a splash of champagne. Garnish with gold gilded maraschino cherry* on a pick.  And, the delicious Maker’s Mark Peach Tea is ready to indulge yourself this monsoon!

Gold Gilded Maraschino Cherries

1/2 cup maraschino cherries – Drain well, then dry on paper towels
1/4 teaspoon Gold Luster Dust – available at cake decorating stores or on-line

Make the cherries in the container in which you are going to store them. It is important that the cherries are well drained. Place the cherries in the container and add the luster dust. Stir gently to coat cherries in gold. Store refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Disclaimer: The content has been shared kindly by Beam Suntory.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mutton Liver Fry

Fried Mutton Liver Indian Style
I guess I love offal, and my butcher knows it. The same who yells at me, and I yell right back, told me this morning while I was passing by his shop that I have ignored taking liver from him for some time.

I felt guilty enough to buy 250 gm. from him, and came back home and cooked it up.

Mutton Liver Fry

Essentially, I like cooking liver for either less than 15 minutes, or for more than two hours, whichever suits my fancy. The texture of the liver changes if you cook it for more than 15 minutes, and it becomes hard, and I don't like it. The other extreme is to cook it over slow heat for 2 hours, but well, I didn't have two hours in my hand, so I decided on the former drill.

Marinated liver
 Start by making a paste of 1 tablespoon chopped onion, 1 teaspoon ginger and garlic, and 1 green chilli. Add to it 2 tablespoon plain yogurt. Apply this all over the liver pieces, chopped into bite-size cubes, and mix in a big pinch of salt. Keep for at least 1 hour in the fridge, preferably longer.

Adding meat to the oil

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee in a pan. Add a couple of dry red chillies (optional), and then stir in the meat. Keep stirring over high heat till the yogurt is no longer visibly white, and the color of the meat turns dark, about 3-4 minutes.

After stir frying meat for 3-4 minutes and adding garam masala and pepper

Add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder, a pinch of turmeric powder (haldi), 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder, a large pinch of sugar, and continue frying over medium-low heat for another 1-2 minutes.

Adding mint-cilantro paste

 Add a coarse paste of 10 mint leaves, 5 coriander leaves (cilantro), and 1/2 teaspoon melon seeds (charmagaz) with about 3-4 tablespoons of water. Stir briskly, cook over medium-high heat till the liver is done to your liking (I personally remove it after 1-2 minutes more), adjust seasonings, and serve with hot jeera rice, rotis, or pulao. I am making Biryani with this, though.

Mutton Liver Fry

Thursday, August 21, 2014


A priceless collection of Assamese muga sarees, silk sarees and mekhlas by revivalist Sampa Das is being showcased at Jhaal Farezi, the restored bungalow which once was her home and is now a happening eatery. It is on for two days, 22 and 23 August from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The presence of leading actress Rituparna Sengupta, in one of Sampa’s creations added special lustre to the exhibition. Rituparna has over the years been a true supporter of Sampa’s Assamese muga and silks.

Sampa has spent half a century working with Assamese handloom and has been reviving the precious Muga silks of Assamgoing to the weaving region of Soalkuchi, visiting museums to cull out rare patterns and then spending time with weavers to rework these ancient designs.

Muga, the golden silk, rich in texture and sheen, was worn at one time only by royalty. An Assamese asset, it is nurtured and unravels itself through the fabulous traditional designs inspired by nature—trees, tendrils, flowers and leaves, peacocks and other birds and animals and geometric tribal motifs.

Today, Assam's muga has been added to the list of products granted the protection of geographical indication. This GI status gives it a new bearing, for it is granted when a product is distinctively linked to a region or endemic to popular culture.

Muga silk is hardy, endures for years, often outliving its owner, but its sheen and lustre increase with every hand wash .The saris are weighty and costly too. Considering the fact that it takes two months and 725 to 1,000 gm of silk to make each sari, it is not difficult to figure out why the creations cost so much.

The bridal mekhla chador is a prized possession of most girls from Assam and a large selection has been available at the exhibition.  It is access to revived tradition provided by Sampa that can give the impetus to weavers to continue to create new wonders from this golden thread, and assure the possessor of such saris that they have something that is more than its weight in gold.

Handloom, as an integral warp of the nationalist movement, has been part of her weft, born as Sampa has been into the family of freedom fighters. A fascinating cameo is the wedding of her parents where her mother wore a white khaddar saree with a red border and her father was in khaddar, too. And the first ever saree that was gifted to her when she was just eleven-was spun in khaddar.

Sampa Das has travelled with her collection to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, New York, New Jersey, Toronto, Houston. She has also been asked to exhibit by the Council of Karnataka and has also participated in Bridal Asia.

For further details kindly contact Shilpi Jaiswal at 9830884616.

Vietnamese Food Festival at Benjarong, South City Mall (6th to 24th August, 2014)

The Vietnamese Spread at Benjarong
Benjarong has always been one of my favorite places to be in the city, and when K told me about the Vietnamese Food Festival, naturally, I was curious and excited. Vietnamese food has always been one of my favorite things, and till date, I haven't had a decent Pho in Kolkata, so I needed to know what were the food available at the spread.

Chef Nguyen Thi Nho (left) and Chef Ram Kumar (right)
Chef Nguyen Thi Nho and Chef Ram Kumar were present in the premises, and both were eager to answer my questions about the cuisine. Vietnamese food is a curious mixture of local ingredients, French, Thai and Chinese techniques, and as a result, the food is a lovely mixture of texture and fresh flavors. The freshness of ingredients is key to Vietnamese food, and I adore the way Chef Nguyen Thi Nho explains to me the way the food differ between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The region around Hanoi prefer spice, while Ho Chi Minh City has food which is sweeter. Although Chef Nguyen was born near Hanoi, her training as a chef was done at Ho Chi Minh City, so the food she made are more influenced by that region. She is extremely particular about the food she cooks - using authentic ingredients which would bring you the taste of Vietnam in Kolkata. She discarded many dishes because she did not get the right ingredients, Chef Ram explains. Apparently, she wanted to make Banh Mi, but found the baguettes here to be too spongy for her liking. A baguette must be hard on the outside and super soft inside - not what you get here. While Chef Ram explains these things to me, she sits and sips a cup of ice cold black coffee, strong and bitter enough for Chef Ram Kumar to make a face.

The first question that I am asked is simple - "I hope you like beef?". The glistening light of appreciation in my eyes is answer enough, Chef Ramkumar swiftly asks for some favorites, and then we settle down for a chat. I am curious about the reception of Vietnamese food in the city, and he assures me that the response has been very good, and Kolkatan people have liked the food. It was slightly difficult to source certain things, so they had to be flown - like the betel leaves in which the beef was wrapped, the beef stew spice, or the Vietnamese coriander.  

Cafe Da - Vietnamese Iced Coffee
While we chat, little glasses of iced coffee are placed in front of us. Traditionally, a shot of filter coffee (made in a metallic drip filter) and a shot of condensed milk is mixed together before pouring over ice cubes or crushed ice. The server mixes the espresso and condensed milk together, creating a milky, yet bitter concoction, which I sip, not waiting for the ice to melt and tone down the sweetness quotient.

Pho Bo (Beef Pho)
The Beef Pho, or Pho Bo, is placed before me. With thin slices of cooked beef, freshly chopped mint and coriander, slices of red onion, and flat noodles, the broth is light and refreshing, simple and nutritious food, which highlights the essence of Vietnamese cuisine perfectly.

Assorted Appetizer Platter
An appetizer platter is placed before me, and I am spoiled for choices. The Vietnamese Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls served with Fermented Bean Sauce and Mixed Pickles is filled with juicy, succulent prawns, mint, lettuce, and served with a sweet and pungent bean sauce. The Minced Beef Wrapped in Wild Betel Leaf with Spring Onion Oil and Roast Peanut is a very interesting dish - the betel leaves are imported from Vietnam. They are absolutely different from what we get here in Kolkata. Ideally, you should take one leaf of lettuce, then put some mint on it, followed by some cooked rice noodles, then place a slice of beef wrapped in betel leaf, sprinkle some of the sweet sauce accompanying it, wrap and serve. The idea is to wrap the beef in the herbage and eat, and the intensely flavored beef is toned down considerably. I pop a stray piece of betel-wrapped beef in my mouth, and find the soy-based glaze excellent. The Minced Beef Grilled on Lemongrass Skewers strongly smell of lemongrass and fish sauce - however, I expected it to be more juicy and tender.

Grilled Shrimp Mousse
The Grilled Shrimp Mousse comes on a short sugarcane stick. The idea is to bite on the sugarcane stick to add an extra hint of sweetness to the savory shrimp. Tasty, but at this point my attention is completely on the salad that is placed before me.

Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken
The Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken is served with little crackers which were again, flown down from Vietnam. Ideally, place a bit of the salad on one of the crackers, and consume the entire thing in a bite. Inelegant yet undaunted, I pile some of the salad on one, and bite into it. An explosion of sweet and salt burst into my mouth. The salad is heat and tang personified, the crunchiness of the fresh herbs and greens perfectly foiling the silky bits of chicken, and tastes completely different from what I have tasted before. Chef Ram Kumar smile and tells me that this salad is his favorite in the entire menu, and I do see why.

Green Mung Bean Sticky Rice
The main course arrives - Green Mung Bean Sticky Rice is stellar in execution - mung beans and rice steamed together till perfectly cooked before adding caramelized onion, herbs and topped with a hint of sesame. It's again, simple and humble, but that is what makes me go back to it and sneak spoonfuls out of the bowl placed before me.

Vietnamese Chicken Curry in Coconut Gravy
The Vietnamese Chicken Curry has curry leaves and coconut flavoring the gravy. Tender, silky pieces of chicken thigh meat is simmered gently in it. The mild gravy would be perfect with some steamed rice, I declare silently.

Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli
I was enamored of the addictive kick of chilli in the Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli dish, where tender slices of beef were cooked in the lemongrass-laden dish, and then topped with crushed peanuts for some extra crunch. I kept on going back to it, and sneak in pieces of meat... the combination of tender beef with chillies and fragrant lemongrass could not be ignored for long.

The Baked Mung Bean Cake with Ice Cream was simplicity incarnate - the mung bean cake itself reminded me of mooncake filling, but the fact that it had a lovely texture and wasn't too sweet was a bonus. Served with Vanilla Ice Cream and chopped fruits, it outshone the other dish, which was the Steamed Banana Cake, which was served with a thick layer of coconut sauce on top. I guess I have just never taken to banana, and I am not particularly fond of coconut. It was interesting, to be fair, but not my cup of tea, I'm afraid.

Benjarong Kolkata

The Vietnamese Food Festival is on till the 24th, but there are talks about extending it to the end of this month, and I hope they do that. The dishes served are from the a-la-carte menu, where most of the dishes range from 248/- to 598/- depending on what you are eating (they have beef, crab and seafood in abundance) and a meal for two will cost roughly 1800/- plus tax. You can call Benjarong, South City Mall at 033-2422-8584 or 9331025052, place an inquiry or book a table.

Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to taste the Vietnamese menu of Benjarong Kolkata.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rasmalai or Rashomalai: Quick Dessert


My early adulthood is littered with memories of going to S's home and gorging on the Rasmalai her mother made. I would basically raid her fridge, opening and taking what I wanted. In S's home, no one seemed to mind. In fact, they sort of took it for granted that I would raid the fridge, and would keep chocolates on the side bar, so I won't have to look for it much. They also had loads of mishti in the fridge, which I would eat steadily through the day, lolling on S's bed, and discussing ... ahem... well, lets not talk about what we used to discuss.

The memories of those lovely afternoons with amazing food will always be there in my heart.

The key to making good rasmalai is to get the perfect roshogolla for it. Those who think making it is easy, I bow to their superior knowledge. I don't a) have the time, or b) have the enthusiasm to make roshogolla from scratch. My version contains store-bought roshogolla which I generally source from Jamuna Sweets, near my house, an adorable little place which makes them around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I pick up twenty or so at one go, and well, when it comes to cooking, only 14 of them go into the pot, because the rest, by that time, has become history (I swear I didn't eat them! It was the mother!).


The rasmalai I make is quick, easy to make, and needs less than ten ingredients. I add some coarsely ground cashew to it, because I am not much of a fan of thin, runny milky rasmalai and prefer it with a bit of a texture.

Start by adding a few strands of good quality saffron to a couple of tablespoons of hot milk. Let rest for 10 minutes. Squeeze out the juices from about 8-10 medium sized roshogolla and reserve the syrup.

Heat a pan and add 400 ml. whole milk. Add to it one whole cardamom, bashed slightly, or 1/4th teaspoon cardamom powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the milk comes to a rolling boil. Then lower the temperature to a simmer and keep stirring every 20-30 seconds to avoid the formation of a skin on the surface of the milk. Cook till the milk is reduced to 2/3rd of its original quantity. Add 4-5 tablespoons of the sugar syrup reserved from the roshogolla. Stir it in and cook for 3-4 minutes more. 

Add a teaspoon of finely chopped cashews. You can also bash them till they are ground, but I like the texture of the finely chopped one. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, and then add the squeezed out roshogolla and the saffron milk. Turn off the heat and let the dish cool down to room temperature. At this point, you can put them in a fridge and let it cool for 2-3 hours minimum before eating, or you can have them straight off the pan, lava hot, but oh so good!