Esplanade review: Putting the Bengal inside Bengaluru, but at a slightly steep price [3.5/5] – A Valentine’s Day story

So ‘twas the day of St Valentine – Valentine’s Day, for those who needed that explanation – and Arkadev and Pooja decided to find a little slice of Bengal inside Namma Bengaluru to celebrate the occasion. The location they found was Esplanade in Indiranagar, and the experience they had can be summed up with one word: Nostalgia.

If you want further directions, this is the place:

Esplanade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Starters

Now, the place itself has a cosy feel to it. The lights are not all that bright, and there are small candles on individual tables. They made for a romantic setting, but had a practical use too, as we learnt when the power supply was disrupted a couple of times for a few seconds. So Pooja ended up ordering the Aampora shorbot (left) – a Bengaali rendition of what northern India would recognise as Aam Panna – and Arkadev got the fresh lime soda.

They turned out to be quite refreshing. They were the optimum temperature – not so cold as to numb the palate, but neither too warm to ruin the experience. And alongside we had the Chicken Kobiraji.

Fun fact: While the word Kobiraji may be an adjective alluding to the local doctor who practises traditional medicine, and is called the Kobiraj, this dish has nothing to do with such a person. The name Kobiraji is derived as a breaking-down of the word “coverage,” which refers to the light and flaky crust of fried beaten egg that covers the original thing. And it was flavourful and delicious!

Main course

We talked to Firdous Alam – the gentleman running the eatery – after our meal, and he confirmed that we had, without even consulting anyone, ordered a house speciality. He said he would have recommended the Daab Chingre (a special prawn curry made with tender coconut, and often served in the shell of one), Bhapa Ilish (hilsa fish steamed with a specific concoction of spices), Bhetki Paturi (Bhekti fish steamed and cooked in a banana leaf with spices) or the Kachalanka Mangsho (a dish where mutton and green chilli are the eponymous ingredients).

However, it was the fifth dish he named that Pooja had alredy ordered – with an ear-to-ear grin that would later turn into a smile of satisfaction. It was the Kosha Mangsho (Mutton with specially spiced curry) and Luchi (puffed bread). We were not exactly in a mood for rice, so two Lachchha Parathas (Bengal’s equivalent of the Kerala parotta) and a Koraishutir Kochuri (Luchi-like bread stuffed with grounded, spiced and then cooked peas).

We knew we had ordered the correct thing with the first lick of the gravy, which we found just a smidge scanty. What it lacked in quantity, it made up for in taste: The flavours played around in our mouths for quite some time! And it paired well with the Lachchha Paratha as well!

Pardon our hungry selves, for we found little time to snag a pic of the Koraishutir Kochuri. But you can take our word for it: It was soft and flavourful as long as it stayed warm. And that goes for the Kosha Mangsho as well! The mutton was succulent at first, but quickly turned tough. However, it did not turn rubbery. Thanks, Esplanade!

Dessert

There was a limited spread for dessert, but we chose the Baked Bonde (sweet Boondi in kheer), which was a delight because it was served warm and stayed warm. Not exactly an Esplanade speciality, but wonderfully sweet!

Later

It was only after we had finished our food-coma-inducing meal that we managed to notice that Esplanade had come up with some Valentine’s Day specials. We had ordered the Chicken Kobiraji/Kabiraji from here, but would have liked to sample more of the cuisine.

Maybe another time. When we are really hungry and have more money in out pockets. Because as much as the restaurant would like to say, eating there is not exactly a cheap affair.

Got something to tell us about this review or something else? Like pointing out a mistake or giving us some interesting bit of trivia? Right this way!

Butter chicken: The original finger-licking good!

Few things can spell Indian food better to the world than “Butter Chicken”. True, that this is a quintessential Punjabi dish today, but its various interpretations have left people all over the world licking their chops first and their fingers later.

Mind you, India has a whole gamut of food, cooking styles, cuisines and culinary identities. So if someone tells you some food item is “authentic Indian”, it is quite likely that he or she is speaking from his knowledge of authenticity. And even likelier that he or she has seen that specific food item may have been made in exactly that particular style all his or her life.

Therefore, calling this butter chicken with parotta:

…the most authentic would be a travesty to butter chicken dishes all over the world! This is just another small culinary journey Pooja and Arkadev – that’s us – took to bring some more spice into life, both literally and figuratively. It was our interpretation of the dish.

So why share it with the world? Tell me honestly, wouldn’t you like something like this to brighten your day or week? Why not make it for your special one? Or if you are single, why not make this when you invite someone over? Not feeling like inviting someone over? Make this nevertheless, and share it with your friends in the virtual world, much like how we are doing!

Pooja had been planning this for the visit of two of our friends, but she decided to make this over the weekend. The marinade masala – whose recipe can be unearthed via a simple Google search – was store-bought and in powder form. So, Pooja started by using half the powder to marinate the chicken for half an hour. A dash of lemon juice and some curd also went into it.

Meanwhile, the other half of the powder was mixed evenly in some warm water, and put aside. This would be used to make the gravy.

After the chicken has marinated well, Pooja begins the actual cooking. The oil begins to boil.

Then in goes the chicken, and some frying ensues. Kindly note that I had already began salivating from this point. The wafting aroma was so delicious, it could have just converted some vegans for life!

Now, before you vegans get your pitchforks out, please take a look at Jain cuisine. That’s Indian too, and really nice!

Meanwhile, with the chicken somewhat fried – basically, not entirely raw – Pooja poured in the masala mix that had been set aside. This would make for some good, spicy gravy.

After the gravy dried a bit, in went some freshly boiled milk. The ideal ingredient here would have been some fresh cream – even the low-fat variety. But we were just too wary of the real heart-stopping ingredient – again, both literally and figuratively – that was to come later.

As the gravy thickened, in went four big dollops of butter. And I will be honest here: It took me so much self-restraint to not just dive in for a taste that had I been an ascetic, that self-restraint would have been a giant leap towards moksha.

After the butter melted and melded in, mixed with the gravy and the chicken, the pan was left covered on low heat to cook.

The final product, after 10-odd minutes, should look something like this.

Wanna share some food with us? Or give us some food for thought? Or want to know the exact recipe? Leave a comment or send us an email! We promise to get back to you really soon!

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