Kolkata home to India's most cosmopolitan cuisine: Vir Sanghvi

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 15-01-2023 17:41 IST | Created: 15-01-2023 17:41 IST
Kolkata home to India's most cosmopolitan cuisine: Vir Sanghvi
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Kolkata is home to the country's "most cosmopolitan" cuisine, said well-known editor and food critic Vir Sanghvi as he ruminated on everything to do with food, on a wintery afternoon with three celebrity chefs at a literary festival here.

Titled 'Oh Calcutta', the one-hour session at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival rustled up conversations on the history and the chemistry that have shaped the culinary culture of Kolkata, which, as Sanghvi said, is not just about 'pulao' (rice-based dish) and 'kosha mangsho' (mutton dish).

"Kolkata has the most cosmopolitan cuisine in the country, with 'chaats' and chili chicken having become an intrinsic part of it. Bengalis are very sophisticated when it comes to their food. Barring Kerala, which resembles Bengal in some ways, you won't see such sophistication anywhere. However, Bengalis, when outside, don't believe in trying out items that get cooked in their homes," said Sanghvi.

He also lamented that not much has been done to popularise Bengali cuisine outside Bengal.

Celebrated chef Shaun Kenworthy, who had moved to India from London and subsequently settled in the City of Joy, also spoke of his reasons for falling in love with Kolkata, with warmth of people and the food topping the list.

He drew parallels between the French and the Kolkatans, stating that people of both the places share their love for food and politics.

Sanghvi, in a rebuttal, said that Bengalis were more like the Irish in their love for food and arguments.

Kenworthy also pointed out that the Bengali cuisine includes a plethora of ''incredible'' vegetarian items, which do not get enough attention.

Auroni Mukherjee of Sienna Cafe noted that Bengal is a melting pot of various cultures, and went on to compare the city with the magic realism of Salman Rushdie's novels.

Mukherjee spoke of the 'kachori' (fried dough with fillings) varieties that he loves savouring in various parts of the city.

The chef, who has spent a considerable part of his life in Mumbai, also narrated his encounter with a 'moori-wala' (puffed rice snack seller), who did not mind entertaining 10 different customisations from a buyer, who had come to get the snack, served in 'thonga' (small paper bags).

Doma Wang, better known as the 'momo queen' of Kolkata, shared anecdotes to explain Bengalis' love for food.

Wang, who is married to a Bengali, also stressed that they are the most obsessed with food.

"My father-in-law would give meticulous cooking instructions and tips to my mother-in law on his return from the bazaar. I had once asked him, 'why can't you do the cooking yourself, if you knew about the spices and the process of making the items so well'," Wang, the owner of popular restaurant The Blue Poppy Thakali, said, evoking hearty laughter from the audience.

Wrapping up the session on Saturday, Sanghvi added that a lot is written about restaurants and food items, but the history of these dishes isn't something that gets talked about.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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