25 Parganas at Sahara Star

Bengali food has always fascinated me but I’ve never really had too many opportunities to experience the same. But then, as luck would have it, I learnt about 25 Parganas – Sahara Star’s newest fine dine restaurant that believes in delivering its patrons an unforgettable experience.
The restaurant is named after “Pargana” which is a Persian word meaning “district or a group of towns constituting an administrative subdivision of the district.” Divided by different Parganas but united by rich heritage, culture and most importantly the food, 25 Parganas is an ode to the rich and variegated culinary history of West Bengal.

Chef Prasenjit Ghosh is a master in his own right as he presented his preparations with utmost humility and made sure we enjoy the evening at this old world charm meets fine dine restaurant. Simple yet elegant, the classic, checkered floor caught my attention. The interiors as a whole felt very homely yet there was a distinctive poise in the air.

Now onto the food…
Bhapa and Bhaja – Traditional home-style cooking that’s either fried and steamed starters served piping hot were the highlights of the evening. Although majority of the dishes were mustard based, each had a lovely flavour to savour.
Among the vegetarian options we tasted the Motorshuti Chennar Chop (Rs. 550) which are basically pan fried patties made with homemade cheese and green peas. I didn’t find anything extraordinary about it but it has a likeable aftertaste.
Up next, we got a taste of deep fried cutlets with their signature beetroot filling along with some winter vegetables known as Beet Bora (Rs. 500). Now this was something unusual thanks to the smart use of beetroot and winter vegetables.
We also checked out the Mochar Chop (Rs. 500) – barrel shaped patties made of chopped banana blossoms with hint of spices and deep fried. I expected a distinctive flavour to this preparation but it felt like any other regular, fried pattie. Personally, I am not a fan of fried foods, these unique recipes with unusual ingredients were definitely worth every bite and tasted best with some mustard dip on the side.

Vegetarian Starters: Motorshuti Chennar Chop, Mochar Chop and Beet Bora

What I truly looked forward to were the non-vegetarian offerings. After all, a Bengali meal is rather incomplete without some meaty preparations. Here’s what we got a taste of…
One of my favourite bhapa (steamed) preparations of the evening, Kaekda Chingri Bhapa (Rs. 1100) is a scintillating combination of seafood treasures like crab meat and prawns that’s been flavoured with chilli, garlic and the oh-so-popular mustard and steamed to perfection. Simply tasty and thoroughly enjoyable is all it was!
The Gondhoraj Murgi‘s (Rs. 700) star ingredient was the Bengali lime – aka godhoraj zebu which has a distinctive aroma and flavour of its own. A confluence of 5 spices come together in the name of ‘panchphoron’ and make this starter an instant success.
Wrapped and steamed in banana leaves, the Pattay Mora Chingri Bhapa (Rs. 1000) is almost like a gorgeous rendition of Bengali style momos. It’s amazing how the human mind tries to make connections to familiarity when you experience something new. But yea, a pungent punch of mustard makes these succulent prawns a delight to eat.
The Bhaja Betki (Rs. 900) made me realise what truly signifies love at first bite. Easily my favourite bhaja (fried) preparation, the classic Bengali fish was perfectly cooked and appealed to all my senses in the most beautiful manner.

Non Vegetarian Starters: Kaekda Chingri Bhapa, Gondhoraj Murgi, Pattay Mora Chingri Bhapa and Bhaja Betki
After making a feast of these appetisers, we moved on to a main course fit for a king – in this case, queen. 😉 I sampled a little of everything. Among the non vegetarian options we checked out Kosha Mangsho (Rs. 900) – some slow cooked mutton with ground and whole spices in a gravy that’s rich and mildly spiced and goes extremely well with porothas or luchis. 
Doi Maach (Rs. 1000) is a popular preparation that most Bengalis I know rave about, so I gave it a try and now I know what they meant. A skillful blend of natural yogurt with the raw sharpness of mustard oil makes this a one-of-a-kind curry that I absolutely loved alongside some simple home-cooked style ghee rice.
If you’re a fan of Thai curries then Daab Chingri (Rs. 1100) is the Indian cousin of it and definitely a party to your senses. Prawns cooked with the richness of “daab”, aka tender coconut, gives you this creamy curry that’s not spicy yet thoroughly flavoursome. Pair it with some steamed rice and you’re sorted!
Non Vegetarian Main Course: Kosha Mangsho, Doi Maach and Daab Chingri
Just when you’re preparing yourself for a elaborate main course, a plate of shallow-fried slices of potatoes, pumpkins, raw bananas and brinjal arrived at our table before the actual meal arrived. Simple and delicious!
Here’s what we ate among the vegetarian selections:
Shukto (Rs. 500) – A medley of differently cooked (some diced while some fried) vegetables like potatoes and brinjals flavoured with ground ginger, mustard seeds, cumin and turmeric makes this a lovely amalgamation of textures and flavours for the vegetarian palate. Have it with the luchis or porothas for a homely appeal.
Kolai Dal (Rs. 400) – Some basic dal like this is a great way to keep the authentic flavours of the other dishes intact. Urad dal that’s been tempered with fennel seeds and finished with a wholesome blob of aromatic cow ghee… sounds good right? It’s a rather simple preparation but quite heavy on the appetite.
Radhaballobhi (Rs. 200) – Bengali style kachoris, made with wheat flour and chana dal is an interesting way to add some zing to your Bengali meal instead of the usual porothas or luchis (Bengali style puris) Although I am not a big fan of kachoris, this is a nice option for those who are.
Some classic porothas (Rs. 200) ghee induced basmati chaal (Rs. 300) accompanied the curries and dals we tasted and what can I say? It was indeed a meal to remember for a long time to come!
Shukto, Kolai Daal, Radhaballobhi, Shallow-fried Vegetables and Porothas
A meal fit for royalty… See what I mean?
And no, the review isn’t over yet until you’ve tasted some fantastic Bengali sweet treats, right? I decided to give the rosogollas a miss and instead try the Chennar Malpoa (Rs. 200) – this was Malpoa made with cottage cheese and milk pudding induced in rich ghee and garnished with nuts. Every bite was a sinful one but I didn’t mind. Give your diet a break if you plan to indulge in this!
The Mishti Doi (Rs. 200) was pleasant but I’ve tried better. Less sweet than usual, it could be a nice option for those who want to avoid the excessive sugar rush!
The winner of the evening was the Nolen Gurer Ice Cream (Rs. 200) – This date palm jaggery icecream preparation made in cow’s milk and held together with some mawa (achieving a granular texture like twist) was unbelievably spectacular. The taste grew on me with every bite I took and trust me when I say I couldn’t get enough of it! This would definitely be one big reason for me to pay another visit to 25 Parganas.
Chennar Malpoa, Mishti Doi and Nolen Gurer Ice Cream

The evening ended with a shot of paan… yes, it was indeed a “shot” and of course they also had the option of the good old classic beetle leaf paan which was essential after than massive meal we savoured. The paan shot is actually a good idea and works well for the fine-dine concept of 25 Parganas. All in all, if you’re looking for a lovely interfusion of classic Bengali old world charm with modern day class, then this is the place to be!

Classic Meetha Paan and Paan Shots
Address: “00” Level, Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Domestic Airport, Santacruz East.
Timings: 7:00 pm to 12:45 am
Call to make reservations: 022 39807162

Until next time,
Taarini aka The Potpourri Girl
xx
Twitter: @TaariniNB
Instagram: @taarininb
Email: thepotpourrigirl@gmail.com

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