Mid of April marks Poila Baisakh for Bengalis, Bohag Bihu for Assamese and Baisakhi for Sikhs. Baisakhi is actually a spring harvest festival for Sikhs and it also honors the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors, Guru Gobind Singh founded this Sikh warrior community! Baisakhi is a time to visit Gurdwaras, socialize and celebrate with your family and loved ones over festive food and beverages.
Kolkata is blessed to have a good number of Punjabi families staying over here and they have actually become as much Bengali as we are, some of them living here for several generations now. So to celebrate this auspicious occasion, this year The Park Hotel (Park Street) decided to introduce a Baisakhi menu that is studded with all the favorites from Punjabi cuisine.
I was there to check this out and these robust flavors of authentic Punjabi food. First of all, the vast festival menu left me amazed. I mean, generally for any food festival, restaurants try to finish things off with a short and sweet concise menu, but here the list of special Punjabi food items seemed to be never ending!
Actually, roadside dhabas in this part of the country are quite synonymous to Punjabi food, rather Bengalized Punjabi food (if I can call so) with some super spicy gravy in every nook and corner! Hence we think we know this cuisine very well sitting here in Bengal. Frankly speaking, tasting the items from Baisakhi menu at The Park Hotel seemed to be quite interesting, and yes, as expected I was pleasantly surprised! At their Baishaki Festival, they are serving an array of Punjabi dishes which felt like home-cooked Punjabi food. It’s easy going, not-too-spicy food with a huge variety! Definitely different from those dhaba food items! I am sure I would’ve loved to eat this every day had I been a Punjabi! But seriously, this was something that every other ‘Punjabi’ dhaba or restaurant typically doesn’t offer!
Just to let you know some facts, this delectable Baisakhi Food Festival (by food curator Satnam Singh Ahluwalia and chef Sharad Dewan) is running till April 28th 2019 at Saffron (The Park), and now let me quickly run you through the items that I had tried and the ones which seemed very interesting to me.
I started off with the Lahori Pedewali Lassi, that was thick, mildly sweet with an obvious aroma and flavor of peda and pistachio. I also tried the very Punjabi local chaat called Mandi di Dahi Bhalla Chaat having deep fried lentil dumplings. Khumb de Tikke was once such veg starter that can eclipse any non-veg delicacy on any given day, it was basically fried button mushrooms which were very well marinated in spicy yoghurt.
And then came my favorite fish starter, it was called Makkhan Fish which was basically a flaky well-marinated fish having a dry tangy masala rub all over it and deep fried, this is a must try item for sure. Also I believe the Lahori Mutton Seekh Kebabs and Patiala Shahi Panner will be amazing, though I haven’t tried those.
I delved into the Shahi Makhni Murg next, that was bursting with rich flavors and authenticity. Here the chicken was marinated well in spicy hung card and then grilled in clay oven before adding the tomato gravy, spices, cream, butter and milk. Oh my mouth is already watering! The Mutton Tariwala followed soon and again I was blown away! It was one of the most tender and tasty mutton preparations I had in recent times, and yes it has potatoes in it swimming in a pool of thin spicy gravy.
By the way, the daal was also nice and it was called Patiala Shahi Kali Dal (whole black lentil) with loads of kidney beans, butter and cream. It went well with the Lachhedar Paratha and Ambarsari Kulche. Though I felt there was an overdose of carom seeds in the kulcha.
The only rice dish that I tried was Ambarsari Vadi Wale Chawal, you won’t get this easily here in Kolkata, that’s for sure. It was rice flavoured and prepared with spiced and sun-dried lentil (Urad Daal) Vadis (it’s called ‘bori’ in Bengali), it tastes so subtle and soothing! That’s authentic Punjabi comfort food! And then we finished things off on a sweet note, absolutely loved the desserts.
The platter had Delhiwali Tille di Kulfi, Patiala Sahi Dal da Halwa, Sargodha di Balushahi, and Mithe Chawal. Loved the Kulfi most and the Mithe chawal (having dried fruits and saffron) was definitely quite close to the Bengali version, i.e. payesh.
Sargodha di Balushahi looked like a thin malpua minus the overdose of sugar syrup. They were deep fried crunchy dough disks cooled and soaked mildly in sugar syrup, tasted really good and not too sweet!
So, that was indeed a royal feast guys, I was super stuffed after having all these, so try this out, you will love it! The Baisakhi menu is on till Sunday 28th April.
Disclaimer: Foodiedada was invited at the food festival by ‘The Park’ management