Peth Pujo at Hyatt Regency
Say ‘Calcutta’ and all I envisage is old world charm. Kolkata as a city can be drawn on a canvas. A world where ‘Rabindro Sangeet’ is played on gramophones and ‘libraries’ are quintessential sections in every household. Vivid postcard imagery of the Howrah bridge and sunsets by Victoria Palace cloud my view. The Café, At Hyatt Regency has done an impressive job at bringing the true essence of the streets of Kolkata to Pune.
Contrary to the accepted notion, Calcutta is not just about Bengalis! There is more to this city than Dusky Bong beauties and the celebrated ‘Durgo Pujo’. The city has a dominant population of Biharis, Marwaris, our friends from the North East and some cross border Chinese ties, which is clearly reflected in the city’s varying palate.
Lobster Pasta Lady’s Take
Expectation is the root of disappointment! With a few highs and lows, the Pet Pujo Fest hosted by Hyatt Regency was a roller coaster experience! Of all regional cuisines that expand through the length and breadth of India, I hold the cuisine from Kolkata with highest regard. Blame it on my long term associations with Kolkata-ans and my ancestral connection to the neighboring state of Bihar which shares a very strong ethnic and culinary connection with Kolkata.
The Pet Pujo Spread
Being one of the most culturally rich states in India, Food holds a stature of its own. The love of food is beyond geographical boundaries and free from political bias! (Because Bengal does not believe in any Bans in the kitchen, kudos)
The Street Food
Dahi Phuchkas (4/5) are nothing but a regionalized version of the Dahi Puri. Slightly high on spices and tasted exotic. The Jhal Muri (2/5) is your bhel tossed in mustard oil which adds to the zing! At The Café, this one failed to make a mark. The Golgappe (3/5) were good when tested individually, though I missed the Kolkata essence.
Another hot favorite from the streets of Kolkata are the Rolls! These are typical Egg Rolls (3/5) having a moist texture and filled with spicy meat or veggies. The covering was apt but the filling lacked flavors. The lack of spices was pretty evident, it could definitely be better!
What not to miss : Dahi Phuchkas
Welcome To China Town
The chowmein and momos can get me trippin’ at any hour of the day! The Chicken Siu Mai (5/5), a dumpling of cantonese origin was fantabulous and if not exaggerating, I devoured at least a dozen of these. The Vegetarian dumplings (4/5) were good too – the result of which this counter was my hotspot for the evening. Also, the Dumpling soup (4/5) is worth a try, unadulterated scoops of flavored meatballs without the dumpling shell made for a great appetizer.
What not to miss: Chicken Siu Mai, Dumpling Soup
The Bong Starters
The words ‘Peyazi’ and ‘Dimer Chops’ got me all teary eyed and I felt homesick despite being just about 10kms away from home! The terminology touched all the right chords while the taste didn’t quite match up. The ‘Dimer chops’ (2/5) are egg chops (cutlets) where hardboiled eggs are coated with potato masala and deep fried. The chops were too greasy which overpowered the flavor of spices. ‘Peyazi’ are nothing but onion bhajiyas and bhajiyas are never bad! With a dollop of mustard sauce and ketchup, I felt like a happy child binging away to glory. A special mention to the ‘Vegetable chops’ (4/5) which were unexpectedly scrumptious, stuffed with beetroots and mashed potatoes and cheese – this one hit all the right notes!
What not to miss: Vegetable Chops
The Maach and Bhaat were on point, which was a savior. The ‘Macher Kacha Lanka Jhol’ (5/5) was extraordinary in flavor and so addictive. The taste of black cumin, hot chilli and mustard in the gravy got me hooked! In Kolkata, river fish is ‘the thing’ and the rohu found home in this delectable gravy. Another favorite was the ‘Chingri Malai Curry’ (4/5) which served some delightfully soft prawns in coconut curry – a perfect contrast to other dishes. The ‘Ghee Bhaat’ (4/5) took me back to when my Nani spoiled me with those riceballs. Accompanied by another classic preparation of the Calcutta kitchen- ‘Doi Murgh’ (3/5) , the main course seemed sorted. The Café also offered some plain and stuffed green peas Luchis (maida puris) to add to your meal.
Biryani (2/5) is my anthem, a dish I can swear by. I can get brutally judgmental with this ‘one dish’. Of all variants present in India, the Kolkata Dum Biryani tops my charts. The Arsalan Biryani in Kolkata with potato chunks, an aroma which lures you and the mild yet rich taste of spices is my Day-Dream! At The Café, the biryani was unfortunately disappointing and the flavors of Kolkata were missed, terribly missed!
What not to miss: Ghee Bhaat, Chingri Malai Curry , Macher Jhol
The Bengali Mithai
The dessert section was a heavy duty Bengali affair. Humungous variety which gathers all your dessert cravings at a single place. I loved the ‘Misthi Doi’ (4/5), a flagship dessert of Bengal. A traditional fermented sweet doi or dahi, served in matkas and soothing to the core. The ‘Chanar Jilabi’ (3/5) and ‘Sondesh’ (3/5) fared pretty well if not wow! The ‘Bread Pudding’ (4/5) a take on the bread halwa topped with generous quantity of dry fruits was gooey, not too sugary and melt in the mouth, a must try!
Kolkata and Rosogolla is synonymous! It was slightly disappointing to try the ‘Nolen Gurer Rosogollas’ (2/5) – which were not adequately spongy! The earthy Gulab Jamuns (4/5) surprisingly tasted better than these Gur (jaggery) flavored rosogollas.
Another hit would certainly be that creamy ‘Chamcham’ (4/5) which got me gulping down quite a few. Do not miss the ‘Kulfi Falooda’ (5/5) which was a departure from the excessive sugar rush and a cooler for your palates – a contrasting combination of falooda with malai kulfi, some sabza seeds topped with rose syrup and relished till the last bite.
What not to miss – Mishti Doi, Chamcham , Bread Pudding & Kulfi Falooda
What Did I Miss At The Pet Pujo?
Chef Anirban Dasgupta has undoubtedly presented an exhaustive spread which covers almost all dimensions of Food in Kolkata. However, I truly missed some Kosha Mangsho (spicy Bengali mutton curry) , Bhetki (a popular river fish variant) and of course some Aloo Posto (poppy variant) preparations which are often an integral part of Kolkata cuisine.
The Pet Pujo Festival is on till the 30th of April 2017 and priced as follows!
Disclaimer: This Review is based on a complimentary invite extended by Hyatt Regency. The opinion expressed in the review is entirely my own and in no manner influenced by any party.