Hilsa festival at Buzz, The Gateway Hotel, Kolkata

There is a basic difference between Bengalis and most Indians. Come Monsoon  most of Fish eating communities will abstain from catching and eating fish for the very obvious reason of the season being the breeding time. but not the Bengalis. Rather it's the very reason morning shopping becomes more interesting for all Bengali connoisseurs as Monsoon for all them is synonymous to the arrival of Ilish (Hilsa), the most sought after fish that they wait for all year long. For a good Ilish The Bengali babus are ready to pay any amount, if that needs them to reschedule their monthly budget, be it.
But the Hilsa must come home.

Following the tradition this year Buzz at Gateway, Kolkata has arranged a Hilsa festival with recipes mostly from Bangladesh. Ilish being the national fish of Bangladesh they prepare it many ways which are refreshingly different from how it is cooked in West Bengal. Being a Bengali food enthusiast I could not say no to the invite that KFB received to sample their menu.

Read more of Sayantani's Experience HERE

We were served with a Mango lassi kind of preparation which is from Bangladesh and is called Mango Labang. This was soon followed by a Thali of some carefully selected dishes showcasing the specialties of the ongoing festival. The starter called Ilish Pithe, another Bangladesh specialty, was an amazing way to get introduced to the wonders of the Hilsa. Thereon we savoured on many dishes like Doi Ilish, Ilish Tok-jhal, Ilish Mishtikumror jhol, Ilish Pulao etc. A special mention goes to the amazing dish called Smoked Hilsa where the chef has used western flavours by using fillet of boneless Hilsa smoked with jasmine rice, honey and a dash of pommery.

More of Amrita and Vishal's Experience HERE
Chef Ashish had put together a sumptious thali for us to sample. While all the dishes were wonderful, and how could any Hilsa preparation not be, I feel that a few items were so delicious that they  deserve a special mention. Firstly, I was blown away by the Ilish Pithe – semi spicy, boneless Ilish stuffing in a savoury, almost samosa like flaky pastry  from Dhaka. This made me vow to go back to Bangladesh for  another gastronomic tour, as soon as possible. The Ilish Pulao was a first for me. I do not know why I have never had it before. The rice cooked with spices and stock from the Hilsa is something I could it just by itself. The highlight of the meal for me was the Smoked Hilsa – the flavours of pommery and dijon transforming the familiar taste of Hilsa to something entirely new and stunning.
More of Anwesha's Thoughts about the festival HERE

Buzz, the hotel restaurants of The Gateway Hotel has become famous for presenting the "Purbo Bangla/Opar Bangla" or the East Bengal delicacies along with the continental dainties. They never fail to celebrate the core Bengali festivals through their delicious delicacies. And to make sure they bring out the traditional regional dishes mostly from East Bengal and partially of the west Bengal. As the Monsoon knocks the door and the local fish market is flooding with Hilsa, Buzz without wasting any time organised the Hilsa Festival for the Hilsa Lovers with some traditional Bengali dishes from the both sides of Bengal. Thanks to Chef Ashish Roy, who took out his precious time and explained us each and every dish, like how they cooked, why they kept the dish in the menu etc. Now let us take a tour through the dishes that were designed specially for the Hilsa Festival.
More of Kamalika's Experience HERE
Chef Ashish Roy
Ilish Mishti Kumror Jhol – This is a specialty from the Eastern part of Bangladesh where roasted pumpkin is used along with tempered Nigella seeds in this very mild gravy of Ilish. The sweetness of the pumpkins sort of mellows down the string flavour of the Ilish making it a soft and gentle Ilish curry. Being from West Bengal and having to taste pumpkin with Ilish for the first time, both Madhushree and I had mixed reviews for this dish. It would be a taste to be developed over time.
The winning dish was the Smoked Hilsa. For the ones who are challenged at picking the fine bones off the Ilish, this is a perfect dish. It is boneless and is smoked with flavour of Jasmine rice and some herbs and tossed in some Dijon mustard, honey and a dash of pommery. It is served with some garlic bread. All of us at the table were floored by this hit.
More of Anindya's Experience HERE

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