Grandeur, Glamour Rule the Cake Mixing at Ibiza

From left to right: Zaffar Rahman , Executive Assistant Manager (F&B), Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa, Kolkata, Sayanyani Guhathakurta, Soumitra Ray of Bhoomi, Mumtaz Sorcar and Subhadip Basu, General Manager, Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa, Kolkata

Grandeur, glamour and glitterati marked the ushers in the yuletide spirit with a fun-filled cake mixing ceremony at Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa, Kolkata on a weekday at the fag end of November. The ceremony which started in the 17th Century with the new harvesting of the ripe fruits in the West, interestingly, can now rule the entire world with its purity, belief and fun-quotient.

The sprawling and well-maintained lawn, the wide atrium, a huge reception, the kingly dining hall, the playroom for the kids, the dazzling blue pool – Ibiza had the perfect setting to celebrate the cake mixing today and the presence of a galaxy of stars including Actress Mumtaz Sorcar, Actress Sayantani Guhathakurta, and Singer Soumitra Ray acted as the icing on the cake.   

A warm invite from Subhadip Basu – General Manager & Zaffar Rahman – EAM (F&B), Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa Kolkata prompted me to travel down so far. But believe me, at the end of the day, a supreme satisfaction engulfed my body and mind. The stars from the tinsel town, other chefs, resort staff, the residents and non-resident guests all rolled up their sleeves  and donned the Christmas hats to plunge into a hearty mixing of dry fruits, nuts , raisins, spices and syrups. And the celebration begins with happiness and vivacity reign the supreme.

“Cake Mixing is a ritual performed to welcome happiness and prosperity.  This tradition is followed all across the globe and heralds the Christmas season which is incomplete without the rich and sumptuous Christmas cake. We at Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa Kolkata have a full fledged bakery  and churn out  cakes of all sorts of flavours.  We celebrate the ritual every year, however, the Covid played a dampener. This year we are celebrating with much enthusiasm and fanfare. We hope to make It a bigger celebration next year,” said Subhadip Basu, GM –  Ibiza the Fern Resort &  Spa Kolkata.

It was a tremendous task of mixing an assortment of 35 kgs of fruits with 12 litres of wine, whiskey, beer, brandy, vodka and rum! For almost 30 days, the mix will be allowed to soak before their special Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings and Dundee cakes come out of the oven.

We had a lavish lunch at the Dining hall, which has a lovely fountain and immaculately decorated giving it a feel of a royal lounge. The menu includes Minestrone Soup, Chicken Hot & Sour Soup, Green Salad, Somthom Salad, Fruit Salad and Pari Chat. Then Veg Badami Tikki, Schezwan Fish Dry as Starters. In the main course, they had Kashmiri Pulao, Dal Panchmel, Palak Paneer, Jaiputi Aloo, Sabzi Jhalfarezi, Exotic Veg Hunan Sauce, Singapuri Noodles, Mutton Rogan Josh, Murg Hyderabadi Biryani, Penne Pasta in White Sauce, Naan, Achar, Papad, Onion Raita. The dessert includes Fruit Jelly, Chocolate Fudge, Baked Sandesh, Phirni and Ice Cream.

This special lunch was curated by Zaffar Rahman – EAM (F&B), Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa Kolkata. A Graduate from the Hotel Management Institute in Singapore, he had spent 6 years working for Singapore Tourism Board and 1 year for Das Stue in Berlin, Germany.  Last 6 years he has been serving in Ibiza and thereby makes his guests an ardent follower of his cooking. He seems to be still unperturbed and smiling!

Cake-Mixing here, some 17 kilometres away from the heart of Kolkata really gives you a different vibe, believe it, or not!


A Luncheon with a Sindhi Friend!

Is it the love, the passion, the warmth, the generosity…which one was prevalent and overtaking the other when she decided and conceptualized such a great luncheon at her place?

I’m not here to do a psychological post-mortem! But Zara Chishty Abedin reminds me of my late grandmother who loved to treat people with traditional good food! Neither an occasion, nor a celebration is required for that. She just thought and invited 15 of us to her place to taste some traditional Sindhi cuisine.

Bindu Advani, a Sindhi was converted to Zara Chishty Abedin by virtue of getting married to a Muslim family. But when I reached her place I found a true Indian in her. She offers prayers with equal ease to Lord Buddha, Allah (Quran), or Guru Nanak, very much the same way she cooks Sindhi, Chinese, Mughlai, or continental dishes.

Sindhi cuisine is mostly non-veg and influenced by Mughal, Iranian, and Central Asian traditions. It has a predominance of rice, curry and a flat-bread of wheat. The dishes all have exclusive names and taste since they use subtle spices. We started with Sanna Pakoda (Small pakodas made of spinach and finely chopped onions.), Alu Tikki, Magaz ka Pakoda (Spicy goat brain fritters) paired with Sa Chutni (Green dhania mint dip) and chilled ginger ale. The day started with a bang! Absolutely gorgeous in taste as they use a few ingredients like Sukha Anardana in Alu Tikki, or Pulajiri (Shah Jeera) in Magaz ka Pakoda.

Then came the Sel Pallo, a popular Sindhi delicacy, where a whole Hilsha fish is slowly cooked in green masala. Master Chef Zara did it all by herself and it came out deadly! The gravy fish often has roe, which is called “aani” in Sindhi and is enjoyed as a delicacy. It was served with Keema Macaroni Ki Pudding. Sindhis consider Macaroni as veg. But this time it was cooked together with mutton keema and baked in eggs.

We had two back to back signature dishes from the province of Sindh – Dal Pakwaan and Kadhi Chawal. Dal Pakwaan is a breakfast item. It is a combination of spicy chana dal cooked with chopped onions and lemon wedges to garnish with green chutney to taste better. We had it with Pakwaan, the crispy, flaky fried bread that includes carom and cumin seeds. This tastes absolutely nutty. For Kadhi Chawal, the thick curry is made of water and gram flour along with okra, drumstick, turmeric, cluster beans, and curry leaves. We had it with steamed rice and boondi raita.

A loving mother of two darling daughters, a doting wife and an outstanding Chef, Zara is calm and composed when it’s a call to balance both her professional and professional life. She is a follower of Maulana Rumi’s quote. Everybody has been created with the desire to perform a specific task, according to this verse. And Zara decided, not to walk on anyone’s shadow. Whether she fails or succeeds, it is hers. No matter what others take from her, but they cannot take her dignity. Loving to love yourself is the greatest strength that she exercises within herself.  

And that’s the reason, she wins everybody’s heart.

An A La Carte Experience with Chicken A La Kiev @ Cafe Courtyard

My schoolmate’s Kannad wife, who spent almost ten years of her life in Kolkata, has long raved about the food’s incredible texture and flavour, which appeals to a wide range of taste buds: hot and spicy, minty, sweet and creamy, and sweet and sour. The other day she visited my place, was explaining me how panchforon, a special combination of five spices (aniseed, mustard, fenugreek, cumin, and black cumin seeds) and mustard oil, give Bengali food its distinctive flavour while also preserving the dish’s suppleness.

She thought that one of the unique qualities of Bengali cuisine was the exquisite fusion of vivid and rich flavours. She once told me about Bengal’s incredible global culinary heritage and how she had never had anything like it in her life because it was so different but so exquisite.

To give them a taste of cosmopolitan cuisine in Kolkata, I took them to a café named Cafe Courtyard in New Town and ordered one of their Russian specialties, Chicken a la Kiev. The dish literally rendered me speechless. The rounded, egg-shaped chicken fillet is a delectable, buttery reminder of Bengal’s obsession with the Soviets, notably Russia. It is pounded and formed around a dab of chilled butter, then covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.

The dish’s flavour was unsurpassed; I don’t think I’ve ever had chicken with so many different flavours blended together in such a harmonious manner. The confluence of flavours was the icing on the cake, and the chicken was cooked to perfection. My favourite parts were the crispiness on the surface and the soft, flavourful filling inside. More though there was a lot of butter on it, it surprisingly didn’t overshadow the flavour of the food, making it even creamier and more appetizing. The presentation of the dish was also quite lovely and vibrant.

Even the ambiance of the café was lovely. The open seating area is gorgeously decorated in white, and the support staffs were friendly and helpful. The cafe was not even costly, which is the nicest part. I recommend everyone that if you ever find yourself in Kolkata, at least visit this café once and sample their amazing Russian cuisine. You will not be disappointed!

Looking For a Healthy Platter?  Princeton Club Welcomes You

My trip to Oxford in September, 2019 was an eye-opener!

This was exactly when I got to know the utility of having healthy, gluten free food! And if you are health conscious and willing to inculcate a healthy and mindful eating habit into your daily regime, this blog is for you. 

I’ve hardly come across a restaurant, or food joint in Kolkata, even today, who seriously works on healthy food. Most of them aim for a tasty food. And in doing so, they make it increasingly complex and difficult to digest food items. Then suddenly I was invited to Princeton Club on Prince Anwar Shah Road to enjoy a Healthy Food Fest and the journey begins!

Princeton, in association with Binge Baefikar, a healthy yet tasty cloud kitchen brand started this new food culture in Kolkata. Bing Baefikar that completes three years this November was inaugurated by actor Prasenjit Chatterjee in the year 2019. If you are a binge eater, then enjoy being guilt free and choose from vegetarian, vegan and non-veg options. The food fest is being held from 11th to 16th November and is open only for lunch and dinner. Interestingly, this month is also for children. So Princeton Club and Binge Baefikar are giving members an opportunity to inspire their children to raise their health quotient. Needless to mention that those preferring gluten free food and vegan can choose from various other options.

The fair includes delicately chosen continental menu, mostly from Thailand, or Vietnam.  Almond Turmeric Latte, a vegan  coffee ,  Oatmeal Raisin smoothie, again a vegan option, Arugula Mesclun Salad – a salad with ample assortment of different varieties of  lettuce , olives, and candid nuts (almond caramelized)-  a healthy leafy salad originated in France , The traditional mix includes  arugula, leafy lettuces , while the term masculine refers to a blend. The salad has a dressing of Parsley leaves and olive oil.

The fest also draws your attention to “Vietnamese rice paper roll”- that resembles paper-This is a roll made of rice with chicken, sesame oil, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, peanut and tomato sauce dressing. It also includes “Quinoa Upma” – a fusion food – Upma with quinoa seeds replacing rice noodle or Suji – a perfect choice for people who would yearn to build a lean petite demeanor. Bruschetta on gluten free garlic bread with (pesto chicken or sundried tomato paneer, Gluten free pizza with charcoal veg or mix chicken are also there in the platter for guests who always choose gluten free options for their stomach. There is a multigrain burger with vegetarian option and non vegetarian option. The dessert section is also there with Gluten free chocolate tart and your favourite Sundae crepes. – An assortment of ample fresh fruits including almonds, kaju, raisins replete with gluten free crepes.

Thanks to Chef Abhijit Chakraborty for rustling up such a brilliant, and healthy dishes while experimenting with the taste buds of gourmands.  He tried his hand skillfully to a plethora of innovative cuisines that are gluten free, dairy free, sugar free. This will certainly act as an out of the box, relief to the taste bud, as pointed out by Sanjay Karmakar, Manage- Operations, Princeton Club. The pocket pinch per pax ranges from Rs 150 to Rs 435.  Timing -12 noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to 10pm.

For take away, please call 98302 29313

Relish Sweet Beings’ Dutch Dark Chocolate, and Become Ecstatic!

Does dark chocolate ice cream exist?

Dutch Dark chocolate lovers rejoice! Kolkata-based @Sweet Beings have doubled down on our chocolate ice cream with their bittersweet dark chocolate flavour. They use milk and cream from small, family owned farms as the base for all their ice creams.

They add Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate ganache, hint of Vanilla, and their proprietary ice cream base made with a combination of Milk, Sugar, Guar gum powder, and few secret ingredients, which gives it the perfect ice cream texture.

The procedure was developed in 1846 by a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Van Houten, commonly known as “Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa” or “Dutch cocoa.” Reddish-brown in color, “Dutched” chocolate has a mellow cocoa flavor with earthy, woodsy undertones. With the addition of egg yolks, this is technically a frozen custard, or even a gelato, and they give the ice cream a more dense, rich texture than you’ll get with just a milk-based ice cream. The cocoa powder enhances the flavor of the chocolate, making it even chocolatier.

Now there may be an obvious question from the readers. Is dark chocolate ice cream good for us?

It is loaded With Vitamins and Minerals. For instance, dark chocolate ice cream is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, which help decrease bad cholesterol and enhance heart health. So no point being scared. Enjoy the Dutch dark chocolate ice cream from Sweet Beings, and I’m sure, you’ll be ecstatic once you taste it.

Gondhoraj Lemon Crumbs, a Fantastic Innovation by Sweet Beings

Research says that ice cream must include 20% total milk solids and at least 10% milk fat to be considered real. It may also contain safe and appropriate sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and flavoring agents. Even while mixes frequently include organic components like sugar and fruit, over 70% of ice cream’s constituents are still made from milk. To improve flavor, texture, or appearance, small amounts of stabilizers, flavors, colourings, and emulsifiers may also be added.

As I was really enjoying the creamy Gondhoraj Lemon Crumbs from Sweet Beings the other night, I had to conduct some study to come to a conclusion about the milk-cream ratio. My arithmetic definitely pales in comparison to the flavor! I think this taste is perfect for summer since it has a pleasant, subtle aroma of eggless gondhoraj lemon curd with gondhoraj zest that makes you want to close your eyes. This is superb! Then you’ve buttered biscuit crumbs to create to topping of the ice cream. In order to give the ice cream the perfect texture, a combination of milk, sugar, guar gum powder, and a few additional unnamed components is used to make the ice cream base.

This Gondhoraj lime-infused ice cream just only have three ingredients and can be produced at home with ease, trust me.

Once you sample this amazing creation, I’m confident you won’t be able to quit.

Sweet Beings’ Double Chocolate Chip, an Epic in the Making!

Sweet Beings hits the market! Stealthily, yet surely! Delicately, yet definitely!

If you’re not too bothered with the big names in the business, and dare to call a spade a spade, Sweet Beings has, hands down, the best Double Chocolate Chip ice cream in the run right now.

There is no icy feeling in this “ice cream.” It is so smoothier, creamier and silkier that I don’t even feel the urge to review their Double Chocolate Chip flavor.  After all, you already know it’s going to be good. But I’ll still give it a review, dear reader, for you.

What is superior to chocolate? To provide an unrivaled chocolate experience, it includes a decadent blend of milk and dark chocolate chips with cocoa cream. Yes, more chocolate, please! A delectable duet of Belgian milk chocolate and massive bittersweet dark chocolate chips, Sweet Being’s Double Chocolate Chip Ice Cream will have chocolate fans exclaiming “Bravo!” not once, but twice. It has a dash of vanilla and coffee to make the chocolate taste better. Additionally, the basis for the ice cream is created using a mixture of milk, sugar, guar gum powder, and a few other unidentified additives to give it the ideal ice cream texture. Ice cream created from scratch by hand is delicious and irresistible!

I typically like dark chocolate, in part because milk chocolate is frequently prepared poorly. Not so in this instance. The base of milk chocolate was smooth, creamy, silky, and milky. It had a flavor similar to pure, creamy Belgian chocolate. Hence, perfection.

The usual big chip/swirl combination was used for the chips. They were soft, flexible, and chewy, yet they were also tougher than ice cream. The chips were fine chocolate, just like the foundation.

So, because this ice cream is plainly fantastic, this review will be brief.

It’s poetry that has been crafted to resemble an epic! It’s now your chance to inspect it.

I adore you, pals. Xo.

Mango Mania Creates Magic in Street Children

Smile all around!! And smile in the faces of little angels from Universal Smile, a residential NGO for street children made the evening so vibrant, that it started a cadence in the hearts of the onlookers at Acropolis Mall in sync with a rain dance outside!

The city shopping arcade, Acropolis Mall hosted a Mango eating competition at “Mango Mania,” involving the special kids amid much fanfare and enthusiasm. The mango festival was organized by Acropolis Mall in association with t2 , Sananda and Friends FM and social media partner Bhoj Adda. The festival took place in between June 29 till 3rd July from 12 noon to 9 pm everyday. The aim is to create a drool worthy experience for  guests with an array of delectable delicacies replete in the taste of mango.

Soumitra Ray, eminent singer and lead vocalist of noted Bangla Band, Bhoomi has graced the occasion in presence of Mr. K Vijayan, GM, Acropolis Mall.  Children from “Universal Smile” participated in a fun filled mango eating competition amidst fun, frolic and extravaganza..

On the occasion, Mr. K Vijayan, GM, Acropolis Mall, a Merlin Group of Company and Soumitra Ray presented educational stationary and essential food items to the children of Universal Smile on behalf of Merlin I am Kolkata, the CSR wing of Merlin Group as well.

The highlight of this year’s mango festival lies in the participation of self-help group women and farmer interest group with a variety of food items ranging from mango squash-mango cakes and mango tea. Brands like Chaiolic and age-old sweet brand Nalin Chandra Das and Sons also have showcased varieties of mangoes from Malda and sweets with mango as one of the main ingredients. 

Mr. K Vijayan, GM, Acropolis Mall looks satisfied as he quips, “ We at Acropolis Mall, always put an effort to provide citizens of Kolkata innovative experience that they can cherish. Mango Mania is our annual festival and we are organizing it after a spate of two years. This  year our  motto was to empower women who  live below poverty line here. With that objective , we kept this festival for the Self help group women and farmers group . We feel happy  to  accommodate the SHG group of women from North  24  Pargana  as a part of this event. They make and sell the most the organic and fresh products. I feel very happy that Acropolis with our partners have been able to provide our customers organic and fresh products straight from the mango  orchards.”

No Sweating in the Kitchen, Celebrate Jamai Sasthi @ Social Kitchen

It’s practically become a family tradition for the family’s sons-in-law to dress up in their finest and reach in-law’s place, with son-in-law being escorted by the in-daughter! Earlier when the entrance of the son-in-law would cause huge excitement among the receiving party, with a slew of the house’s ladies greeting him in the usual manner. A tray with a tender grass (durbo), rice grains (dhaan), lit candle (prodip), and either yoghurt (doi) , or sandalwood paste (chandan) to leave a mark (tilak) on the forehead would be common.

Jamai Sasthi falls on the sixth day of the lunar cycle. So, everything is offered in 6: 6 types of sweets, 6 sorts of fruits, and in a 6 side-dishes to be served with rice dishes on his lunch plate.

With time, some of these rituals have been washed away by a wave of modernization. The issue at hand is gender equality. Male supremacy in the society was common in the past since men were thought to be the family’s breadwinners. Parents frequently entrust their daughter’s well-being to their son-in-law.

Cut to now, women are equally capable and moving with men shoulder to shoulder at every respect in life. Hence the festival’s ceremonial significance has waned.

This time I’m a little depressed! Because my in-laws are out of town, they will return on June 15th to offer me the long-awaited pleasure. But thanks to the Holiday Inn Kolkata ‘s Social Kitchen. Thanks to a warm invitation from Nitu, I was able to spend the day in luxury, sampling a broad range of mouthwatering traditional and genuine Bengali dishes, courtesy Chef @Roushan Sharma. What an extraordinary artist he is! And believe me when I say that if you don’t taste his touch, you’ll be missing out on life’s flavours.

So, come Sunday, the 5th June and it calls for the mothers-in-laws to show up unusual culinary skills and present mouth-watering delicacies that include varieties of non-veg platters of Fish, eggs, chicken and red meat. And dear In-Laws, if you don’t want to sweat a lot under the sweltering heat of the city, in the name of blessings, step in to @Holiday Inn. There cannot be any second thought for that, a value for money for such an incredible spread.

Event : Jamai Shashthi Special Buffet

Location : Social Kitchen, Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport

Address : Chinar Park, Rajarhat

Duration : 5th June, 2022 Sunday

Timing: Lunch – 12 pm-3.30 pm & Dinner – 7 pm onwards

Pocket Pinch : INR 1199 + GST per person

For details, please call: 03366996699/ 6290918901











































































Riyasat Rampur: A Nice Way to Celebrate an Almost Extinct Royal Rampuri Cuisine

I heard about Rampuri cuisine just six years’ back, in 2016, en route to Lucknow from Delhi. Despite its proximity to Delhi and despite the fact that my friend fondly described Rampur, that time I didn’t feel the urge to visit that place to discover some signature dishes!! And I still repent that decision.

The taar qorma, mahi tikka, murgh sandha, sambhal ke seekh, doodhiya kebab, subz shorba, home-style urad gosht and lauki gosht, and the home-style urad gosht and lauki gosht are all well-known Rampuri delicacies, although only a few connoisseurs Rampuri food, as we refer to it, is essentially a “courtly cuisine,” with elements from Avadhi, Mughalai, Rajput, Afghani, and other restaurants.

The usage of bottlegourd and papaya to tenderize meat for kebabs and curries first began in Rampuri kitchen, and also the use of varq.

In fact, post 1858, Rampur rose in prominence as the ‘varsity’ for most of the royal khansamas from the Mughal and other royal courts, who unable to find work and the artistic liberties they were used to in the royal court, migrated to this 17 gun salute kingdom. This perhaps explains why Rampuri cuisine seems to be influenced by so many cuisines.

With so many specialty cooks at their disposal, the Nawabs were able to establish their own cuisine, which was primarily pasthun style at the time. To put it another way, it’s a lot of meat, not a lot of spice, and it’s largely grilled. The royal cooks of Rampur followed a standard procedure at the time. As a result, a rice expert would solely work on rice dishes, and vice versa. The Nawabs, on the other hand, would frequently urge them to explore and develop new things, allowing them to go into each other’s domains and build marvels. The Meethe Chawal became a distinctive dish as a result. A rice dish in which twice the amount of sugar/sugarcane juice was added to make a sweet pilaf with the texture of Biryani. Or, Saan-e-Dum Biryani, a Midas touch by Master Chef Roushan Sharma of Holiday Inn Kolkata. You could throw the rice on the floor and it would spill out like pearls.

The utilisation of spice mixes was another fascinating aspect of the food. The Rampuri Chaat Masala, for example, has more ginger than the Delhi Chaat Masala; the Rampuri Korma, in contrast to ordinary ones with a white sauce rich in cashew nuts, is distinguished by its scarlet gravy, which is caused by tomatoes rather than red chillies.

The royal cooks were known for employing ingredients like as lotus seeds, banana blossom, khus ki jhad (roots), and sandalwood to give their food a distinct flavour. Much like the famed adrak ka halwa, the initial version of paneer nazakat, kathal aur badam ke kofta, and dal khash, which I sampled at the Rampuri Food Festival at Holiday Inn Kolkata on May 20th, was launched at the Rampuri court before making its way to other courts in India. According to legend, one of Nawab Khan’s successors had to consume a large amount of ginger to regain his health. However, because of the bitter flavour, the Nawab would frequently avoid it and make reasons to skip it. That’s when the royal sweetmakers were tasked with devising a more appealing method of feeding the Nawab his ginger ration.

Rampur’s chefs were known for their inventive use of ingredients. And so is the Chef at the Holiday Inn Kolkata as well. So, how can one tell the difference between Rampuri and other cuisines? Due to the unwillingness of most remaining khansamas or chefs to share their family recipes, most of the meals presented today are interpretations of the few people who have attempted to revive this nearly extinct cuisine. Thanks to the Holiday Inn Kolkata for their innovation.

What remains, though, is the little yet effective use of spice in the meal. Unlike the strong spices of Old Delhi, the sourness of Hyderabadi cuisine, and the sweetness of Awadhi khana, Rampuri cuisine is marked by the use of ginger, onions, and a mixture of javitri (mace), jaiphal (nutmeg), and khus roots. The Sabz Akbari, for example, was called after the great Mughal Emperor and his nine pearls, while the Noorjahani Datia is supposed to be a tribute to the famous queen, and the now-extinct Kebab e Faizullah was to the Nawab himself.