Poila Boishakh Menu Preview at ITC Sonar, Kolkata

Archita's Experience:
Poila Boisakh or Bengali New Year is the time for hogging! We welcome the new year with sumptuous feasts and spread the love and cheer for better times ahead.When I was a kid this time of the year brought in a lot of happiness - new clothes and lots of good food. My family being the traditionalists one day before Poila Boisakh - that is on Sankranti we would be served pure vegetarian food - Enchod er Dalna( Jackfruit curry),Aam Dal( Lentils with raw mango) and Shojna Chorchori(Drumsticks cooked with mustard). This was basically done to cleanse the palate so that we could gorge on the non veg delicacies the next day! The tradition continues in my household. But with times certain things do change and now one has the luxury of taking the day off from kitchen on this auspicious day and still indulge in such traditional delicacies! With the emergence of speciality restaurants and the concept of fine dining taking the foodie world by storm one has so many options to choose from. All you need to do is dress up pretty and head to your favourite restaurant to relish the delicacies. KFB was invited by ITC Sonar to preview their brand new POILA BOISAKH MENU that has been specially designed by Chef Gaurav Lavania Sr. Sous Chef at the hotel. The interesting thing here is that Chef hails from UP and is married to a Bengali so that kind of influences his take on authentic Bengali cuisine.He brings in some subtle twist of taste to his dishes and as he rightly said that there has to be something different from the everyday home cooked meals. I couldn't agree more.

Manjari's experience:
The spread for Poila Boisakh 'Bengali New Year' at ITC Sonar is a grand affair for those who would want to explore the culinary fare of Bengal. I was invited as part of of the Kolkata Food Bloggers Team to sample the lovely dishes on offer and it was a gala affair indeed with some delightful kitchen secrets and a few anecdotes from Senior Sous Chef Gaurav Lavania himself.
On arrival our lovely hostess Arundhati took us to the Eden Pavillion and we were immediately served the 'Gondhoraj Lassi' which had a beautiful Bengali twist to the lovely drink with the addition of a particularly fragrant lime from Bengal called the 'Gondhoraj'. To be fair with my first sip my immediate reaction was that the lassi needed to be thick and then I realized what is actually being called lassi is Bengal's own 'Ghol' a version of the lassi which is much more thinner in consistency. I would say it is the perfect way to begin a meal on a hot summer's day. Chef Lavania did mention that the traditional 'Aam Porar Shorbot' (a classical summer cooler made with burnt raw mango) would also be available with the buffet spread for diners to indulge in.

Amrita's experience:
Poila Boishakh or Bengali New Year is celebrated on the 15th April with a lot of fervor and is the perfect excuse to dig into some traditional and scrumptious food. Having brought up in Kolkata, I have many a times jumped onto marriage invitations only to indulge my taste buds to some authentic Bengali food. When ITC Sonar extended their warm invitation to Kolkata Food Bloggers, I readily joined in to have the opportunity to feast on their delectable spread and thus join in the festive celebration. Our lovely hostess Arundhuti introduced us to Chef Gaurav Lavania Sr. Sous Chef at the hotel who has specially designed a grand menu for Poila Boishakh celebrations.
We were greeted with a very innovative and refreshing drink calledGondhoraj Lassi where the rind of a special lemon called Gondhoraj is used in the traditional lassi which is basically a yogurt based drink. All of us loved the much needed cooling drink perfect for a humid weather.

Kamalika's experiene:
When the Bengali dishes come from a Non- Bengali Chef, it becomes more interesting how authentic way he can present it and at the same time  challenging  too.  Hailed from UP and Married to a Bengali he did lot of research works, digging down the old hand written recipes - getting the translated versions of it, interacting with his customers then it became more easy to plan a menu for one of the famous Bengali festivity seasons, that proudly welcome our own Bengali New year "Poila Boishak". Getting an invitation from ITC Sonar to the Kolkata Food Bloggers group, a set of five KFBians reached the ITC Sonar to attend the press meet arranged over an array of Bengali delicacies that are ready to serve to celebrate Poila Boishak. Checking on the Menu it got our attention that the Chef team has tried to cover most of the famous Bengali delicacies which are very common in our daily Bengali platter at our home and also we love to have those on any celebration. One gets welcomed by the ever refreshing quenchers like Gondhoraj Lassi, Duber Jol (Coconut Water) or Pora Aamer Shorbot (Roasted Raw Mango Drink). You will get the delicacies like Mochar Ghonto, Shukto, Thorer CheNchki, Chholar Dal, Chhanar Paturi, Cholar Dal Narkol Diye, Jhuri Aloo Bhaja, etc from the Vegetarian Section and from Non-Veg section you will have  Bhetki Machher Paturi, Chingri Triguna Bhaja, Kosha Mangsho, Chingri Malaykari, Rui machher Kalia and those who are allergic to seafood are complemented with a flavourful Chicken dish. The Chef shared that he loves most to the Chicken dish is on the offering and my fellow bloggers appreciated that too. 

Priyadarshini's experience:
For the longest time Bengali cuisine had been a domestic stronghold and an archetypal Khadyoroshik Bangali couldn't extol the virtue of home-cooked food enough. The Ma-Thakuma-Pishima clan possessed the most extraordinary culinary skills, to a bonafide Bangali. Mochar ghonto, no matter how cumbersome a deal was cooked at home and shukto was best made at home. Not many could imagine going restaurant-hopping to sample a ghonto or a malaikari. That was food we had at home. Until, things changed.

Of course, hole-in-the-wall eateries selling chop-cutlet (deep-fried goodies) were always a favourite and then there were the pice hotels that sold unpretentious, mundane Bengali food, but fine-dining specialty restaurants are comparatively new. That makes one wonder what happened to that fiery pride in home cooking? Yes true a part of the clientele in these restaurants comprise NRI Bongs and foreign tourists keen on sampling the region's delicacy. But that can't just be it. Bengalis are venturing out of their homes to have food that once was a part of regular meals. 

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