When you have the best of Momos, in the country !
When you have a variety of amazing Pork Dishes!
When you have flavorful Chicken Wings !
When you have surprisingly tasty Honey Fish !
When you have sinfully divine Pancakes; and
When you have the Momo Queen of India, Doma Wang, a leading Chef, an interesting personality who is full of life, as your host….
You are in Kolkata and at The Blue Poppy- Thakali Restaurant.
It so happened that Doma Wang was here in Delhi a few days ago. A few messages exchanged over WhatsApp and soon I was taking her around Delhi to enjoy street food. Me and Govind Sharma, first drove her through Connaught Place (CP for Street Food?), yes CP for Street Food. Starting from the iconic Bhogal Wale Chhole Bhature behind Scindia House to Kadhi Chawal at Jain Chawal Wale to Keema Meat at National Restaurant and wrapping up with Kulfi Falooda at Bengali Market. Next day morning was a tour to the by lanes of Jama Masjid area for Lotan Chhole Kulche, Bedmi Subzi and Nagori Halwa at Shyam Sweets followed by Nahari at Haji Shabrati.
All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of walking through the crowded by lanes, enjoying amazing food and of course the unending talks. It said that we depart to meet again.
At The Blue Poppy- Thakali, Kolkata
As the luck would have it, five days later I was in Kolkata. And, was committed to be there at The Blue Poppy-Thakali. Once again, it was an evening full of amazing food and unending talks and photo sessions. We were hosted at the personal table of Doma (the first on the left as soon as you enter). The food line up, personally chosen by Doma, unfolded like a Bollywood thriller with a superb climax.
Green Chilli Pork
The brownish slices of Pork, playing hide and seek with the Green Tinge was the introductory dish. Introductory in the sense that this was the first to arrive on our table. And also introductory, as this is yet to feature on the regular menu of the restaurant. This very gesture floored me. We were previewing the soon to be launched dish. The meat was Crispy, Thin, Juicy and flavorful. The first bite and one couldn’t decide it was the flavor of the meat or the thin green chili coating which hits you first. The punch of chili followed by the flavors of the meat were well balanced. You kept on picking one after the another and yet you wanted more. Amazingly, the punch of the green chili goes away after an initial introduction. What lingers on is the flavors of the meat and the spices. for an extra punch of green chili, the dish was served with a potent Green Chili Chutney, which I steered clear of. What a beginning !!
Chilli Butter Chicken Wings
I an not a fan of Chicken Wings. Since, the dish looked great with golden-redish-brownish chunks seated on a green platter, I picked up a couple instantly. The closer look revealed that it had a sprinkling of fresh Chili Flakes, Seeds and a glaze of Butter. It gave an aroma of meat and butter, a deadly combo. The first bite told me it was crispy out side with a puch of Red Chili balanced with the richness of Butter which lead to the succulent meat inside. Doma told me to ditch the fork and use my hands. I obediently followed the instruction and was in a state of divinity. No one element over powered the other. The Chili, the Spices, The Butter, The Juicy Meat, all were in harmony and complimented each other. Now I am a fan of Chicken Wings BUT only served at Thakali !!
When the Momo Queen of India is your host then how can you not get Momos ? Their signature Momos were the next to land on our table. The freshly steamed fair beauties with a glaze over them gave the familiar aroma. One chuckled at the first sight and before you even think of taking your camera out, half of them are gone. The aroma is so inviting. The moment you pop up a portion in your mouth, you realize that it is a symphony of textures and temperatures and flavors. The skin was soft and moist, the filling was interspersed with right amount of meat mince, onions and mild spices and the juices oozed out the moment you bite it. Rightly, no one could do Momos like these.
Since, girls back home are too fond of Momos, I had the privilege of carrying back home some for them (though the Chicken version). The youngsters too were thrilled with the flavours and agreed that these were the best.
This is a dish which I came across for the first time and it stole my heart. I was told that this is a recipe created by Doma. Paro, a town in Bhutan, is the title of this dish which has Pork, Pickled Radish and Chilies. The pork meat combined with its fat balances the heat quotient while the tanginess of the Pickled Radish opens layers of flavor when you explore the dish. This is a dish which pleasantly surprised me. I am not a fan of heat but still would love to enjoy this at least a couple of times more.
After a bout of increasing index of meat, heat and flavours, this dish was yet another pleasant surprise. The dish had three layers of flavourful textures. These golden brown chunks with a sprinkling of sesame seeds were a delight to look at. You pick up the first and it starts with the nutty seeds, followed by a thin coating of corn flour which leads you to the silky fish meat inside. The flavours too open up in this order. The deep fried fish is done in mild spices and honey is a wonder in itself.
Banana Nutella Pancake
The food had to be wrapped up with the dessert. So, comfortably seated atop a black stone platter came in this beauty. The golden rectangular Pancake was garnished artistically with Condensed Milk and Chocolate Sauce. The crispy thin crust had Banana Slices covered in Nutella inside. One could imagine the sinful delight we would have indulged biting into various layers of the flavors. As if this death by chocolate was not enough. Doma whispered something in the ears of the server (her man Friday) and soon another plate of the same dessert landed on the table. This time it had no Chocolate Sauce but only a lavish drizzle of Condensed Milk. Doma told me that since childhood she is hooked to the Condensed Milk and can’t do without it. And then, a few anecdotes of her childhood on Condensed Milk followed.
This was a memorable visit to Kolkata. I could achieve some good amount of work and enjoyed some great food. There are couple of more which could be accessed on my Facebook or Instagram or Twitter …..lunch at an iconic Chinese Eatery, Eau Chow and at the historic Tolly Club. In the meanwhile, my other food adventures in Kolkata could be read here:
If you have some more places to recommend in Kolkata or anywhere else, do let me know. Till then…
Bon Appetite !!