Celebrating the Bengali New Year
For the first time in the (almost) 26 years I've been in the UAE, I have a few Bengali connections and for some reason become more Bengali than I used to be. Maybe its age or Ishita's influence or the fact that I have a new Ghanaian sister-in-law and relished showing her all things Bengali when we were in Kolkata in December. Anyhow, courtesy of the "Bengalis in Dubai" group on Facebook, we have found a couple of restaurants that offer authentic Bengali food: Don Giovanni (don't ask - I think its part of a chain from Kolkata) in Business Bay and Palm Grove in Sharjah. We had tried a delivery of Shorshe Ilish (a special fish - don't know the equivalent English term) from Don Giovanni (they need a minimum order of AED 150 for delivery anywhere) and it wasn't bad. It was a touch of home.
Bengalis are the quintessential foodies I think (I could be biased). We are open (mostly) to good food. I grew up in a non-traditional, international, Bengali family. I can't think of any other way to describe them - especially my father's side. Bengali food was just another type of really good food in between everything else that came out of my grandmother's kitchen. My mum was a super cook but my love of traditional Bengali food came more from my Jethima (my father's older brother's wife) who was as "Bangal" as they come. So that was my benchmark.
I wanted to have a traditional meal with the family - introduce my Maharashtrian daughter-in-law and her mother, my grandson to traditional Bengali food. My sister-in-law was craving it since her trip to Kolkata anyway. If I'm honest, so were we. So we ordered (I've tried to find recipes where possible - because I have no idea how to describe it):
- Mochar chop (made with banana flower) - absolutely delicious albeit a tad salty
- Shukta - it's a vegetarian dish that has a bitter taste because of the bitter gourd in it but I love it. These guys has a watery gravy - my aunt's version used to have a thicker paste
- Dhokar Dalna It wasn't a bad version just wish it had more gravy
- Shorshe Ilish Was absolutely perfect and generous sized Ilish as well
- Bhetki Maacher Paturi - the pieces were miniscule but cooked perfectly
- Kosha Mangsho - basically a dry-ish mutton curry. It was tasty but - for me - the garam masala was a bit overpowering.
- Mishti Doi - I haven't tried Ishita's as yet but this was quite delicious.
All in all, we enjoyed the meal and while it wasn't wow - it was quite good for a princely sum of AED300. Palm Grove were easy to deal with. They were accommodating and, while a tad late, was delivered with a smile. They were open to feedback and that's a good way to my good graces.
I will go back to them when I am feeling nostalgic and want a taste of home.