Aloft Cessna Business Park is one of the Hotels in Bangalore which takes great pride in serving their patrons with different Indian cuisines over the course of the year. I have been fortunate to have tried many food festivals at their restaurant – Nook and every new food festival is a wonderful insight into the diversity of culture which reflects on the cuisine of regions in India.
The month of August calls for a journey into the Land of the Tigers – BENGAL. Bengali culinary style is very unique with a perfect balance of main ingredients with unique seasoning. The variety of dishes found in Bengali cooking is vast though I am told that at least one meal a day should contain a fish course. The Hilsa fish commonly called Ilish is a household name where the head is particularly prefered.
In addition, they also excel in some comfort vegetarian dishes with the predominant use of mustard oil and poppy seeds. Their style of using spice mixtures as flavouring is very different from what we use in South India particularly with the use of mustard paste in these dishes.
The ongoing food festival aptly named Flavours of Bengal showcases the journey of flavours from Bengal to Bangladesh with emphasis on spices, fish, vegetables and desserts.
The veg appetizers were Deem Chop, Naarkil Diye Tikki and Veg Chops. Each of the these simple looking starters had wonderful flavours and though batter fried did not taste oily or feel heavy on the stomach. The Deem Chop is my pick with stuffing of egg surrounded by the taste of beetroot.
There were some dishes as part of the buffet which seemed very homely and I am sure would bring back fond memories of home for my Bengali friends. Bhaja’s simply known as fried food are supposed to be auspicious and a must for any celebrations. The choice of Bhaja’s picked for this festival were Aloo Bhaja, Begun Bhaja, Korla Bhaja and Potol Bhaja. I was very keen to try them all and though they all were delightful, I absolutely feel in love with the Potol Bhaja.
These simple dishes lead the way for more interesting non vegetarian appetizers such as Junaki Murg, Hilsa Bhaja, Sarso Malai Chingri and Muri Ghonto. The Junaki Murg looked very similar to a Tandoori kebab dish but one bit into this soft meat and all thoughts about Tandoori chicken vanished.
Just as I was wondering about the famous fish preparations, we were served the well known Hilsa Bhaja. As a Keralite, I am used to having fish on a regular basis though we do not eat Hilsa. I realized the Bengali’s love for this fish is not far fetched but the fish in itself has wonderful flavour. This is a dish not to be missed here.
With fish being served, prawns also called Chingri was not far behind with the perfect use of Mustard (Sarso) in the preparation.
The ordinary looking Muri Ghonto was my pick among the non veg appetizers with soft and mouth melting meat mixed with the perfect blend of spices that makes me remember even while writing this post.
While I was taking my time trying their different appetizers, the friendly bartender concocted some interesting cocktails and mocktails with essence of the Bengal predominant in many of them.
After a heavy round of appetizers, I took a walk down the salad counter to let my stomach settle a bit as I knew the main course is yet to come. As always they have a predominant section loaded with different salads from chicken to fish to mushrooms and many more.
The layout of the restaurant is such that you can leisurely walk up to the bar as well as the lobby of the Hotel and I took that walk just to listen to the band playing that particular night. The band consisted of just 2 people and their choice of 80’s and 90’s music with their wonderful voices made the evening a memorable one.
After humming along a few soulful songs, I made my way back to my table to see an array of dishes served for the main course. My initial thought is that I would not be able to do justice to these many dishes but surprisingly I could, thanks to the fact none of them feel heavy or oily.
The highlight of the main course was the Bhapa Ilish, one of the most popular dishes in Bengal. The name Bhapa Ilish means steamed fish and this preparation is made with abundant use of pungent mustard paste steamed with a liberal dose of mustard oil. Though I personally do not like the use of mustard in my food, this dish was an experience I would not forget soon. I definitely suggest giving this signature dish a try.
The other non veg gravies for the main course were Murgir Mangsho Deem, Daab Chingri and Patori Ilish. While I loved the flavours of the Chicken (Murgir Mangsho Deem), I could not help give a thumbs up for the coconut milk based prawn curry (Daab Chingri) and of course the fish head preparation – Patori Ilish which is a speciality in Bengal.
In addition to the non veg gravies, the food festival also highlights the different preparations of vegetables with dishes such as Aloo Piston, Sukto, Moda Ghonto, Jhinge Posto and Cholar Dal. Among the breads served – Luchi, a deep fried bread was a showstopper.
Whats a food festival without a Biryani and hence the Kolkata Chicken Biryani ended that course on a satisfying note!
Every course in Bengali cuisine has its significance but the sweets is known to be one of the most awaited part of the meal with many skipping a course to get to the sweets.
The sweets served for this food festival that night were – Rasogollas, Kacha Gulla, Chocolate Sondesh, Pati Shapta, Lady Kaine, Nolengur Payasam, Malpua and Malai Sandwich.
Personally this was the first time I tasted Kancha Golla and Pati Sapti and thought they were amazing and I had to stop myself for a second serving.
While the focus is on Bengali sweets and desserts, the Chef has ensured that patrons also have a choice of regular pastries and desserts which Nook is famous for.
This Bengal Food Festival holds a special place as I really enjoyed the very unique and different flavours of this cuisine well showcased by the team at Aloft CBP.
The Flavours of Bengal Food Festival is on from 16th August – 1st September 2017 for lunch and dinner on weekdays , priced at Rs.1199/- ++.
Address: Cessna Business Park, Sarjapur–Marathahalli Outer Ring Road, Kadubeesanahalli, Bellandur Post, Bengaluru – 560103
Phone Number: +91 80 4510 1010
Website: Aloft Bengaluru CBP
Ambiance – 4.0/5
Service – 4.5/5
Food Taste – 4.5/5
Quantity/Quality – Buffet – 4.5/5
Value for Money – 4.5/5