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Magpie calling

The name Mrs. Magpie reminded me of Mrs. Kaur’s in Delhi’s Khan Market; both being pretty little patisseries with personified names. I had long waited for some of my lady friends to visit Kolkata so that I could make a girlie trip to this place. But as luck would have it, I finally happened to visit the dainty pink cafe with a bunch of boys, straight from watching a car racing action movie. Hungry as hell, orders were placed pronto for individual club sandwiches (chicken, bacon and veg varieties), an assortment of hot and cold beverages, and a humble ham and cheese quiche for me. We looked around in amazement as we waited for the food to arrive. Some of the guys did grumble that the place was “too pink” for them and “the chairs may be cute but not very comfortable”. I, on the other hand, was mesmerized by the menu and the pretty cakes in the display window. There was a Gangnam-styled cake, a Harley Davidson cake (which obviously the guys admitted to liking), a couple of pretty  hand painted ones, a bus filled with passengers, a house, a forest, and so on.

Once the food started arriving, the first thing that struck us was the portions. Individual portions of club sandwiches meant four humungus layered sandwiches, plus chips. The fact that the sandwiches were generously stuffed added to the intimidating effect it had on the machismo. I tasted the bacon club sandwich and the smoked bacon was extremely flavourful and predominant amongst all the layers in the sandwich. My ham and cheese quiche was thin, soft, melting in my mouth, not eggy at all. I had it, like a lady, with a flavorful Darjeeling tea that came in a transparent kettle (not the cup and a tea bag that I often dread) and there was enough to share it with another tea lover. A plum sorbet was ordered, which got licked clean as the bowl was passed around the table. The verdict, again, was very positive. The flavourful sorbet had bits of plum in it, adding to the texture.

Mini delight
Mini delight

But it took a sip of the gooey, thick, hot chocolate to melt any male ego that may have existed at the table that day. The hot chocolate was actually molten dark chocolate which may have only slightly been thinned with creamy milk, as against the standard instant chocolate drinks cafes serve in the name of hot chocolate. We liked it so much, we ordered for another cup that was soon passed around the table. I ordered for a toffee cupcake in the end – it was way too pretty to be eaten but then am really glad I did! These are mini-cupcakes and the size of the topping is almost equal to the size of the actual cupcake. While I had presumed this would make it too sweet, it was actually just right and the toffee topping was superlative.

And thus came the end to one of the most memorable afternoons I have had in a long time. I have my eye on the afternoon tea (a set menu of scones, cupcakes, finger sandwiches along with tea) that they have on their menu, that I will try next time. I now know where to take my friends who fly in and ask to be taken to a quaint place. Well done, Mrs Magpie!

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Columns

24 hours in Kolkata

Deep fried momos
Deep fried momos

Calcutta is a city of many faces, schizophrenic, as some unkind people may choose to say. it’s long and rich cultural history ensures a thoroughly confused visitor is faced with a groaning sideboard of offerings, each with it’s very own cultural identity. This is but one of many possible culinary combinations you can indulge in during 24 hours spent in the city.

Breakfast #1: If you are an early morning person, the Chinese breakfast at Tiretti Bazaar is your best bet to grab a bite before most people have woken up. Pork meatball soup or fish-ball soup, stuffed Chinese buns and momos of course. You can also indulge in a little shopping for Chinese greens, Cantonese sausages, freshly made tofu and a treasure trove of Chinese cooking ingredients – all this between 6am and 8am.

Breakfast #2 @Flury’s, Park Street: We may love to hate it for it’s declining quality, yet, when it comes to nostalgic ambiance and the Colonial feel so many tourists to the city want to explore, a breakfast platter at Flury’s (toast, eggs, sausages, hash browns, tea/coffee) is totally worth the experience. Opt for Darjeeling tea, obviously.

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Recipes

Nutty Drunken Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 250 gms Chicken wings
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Inch Ginger julienned or coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic paste
  • 1 Tbs Oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbs Toasted peanuts
  • 1 Tbs Spring onions, Chopped
  • Toasted sesame oil
Marinade:
  • 2 tbsp Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 Green chilies, slit lengthwise

Method:

Ideally drunken chicken is first cooked and then seeped into the wine overnight. Since I did not have that time, I chose to just marinate for as long as possible.

  1. Marinate the wings in marinade ingredients for at least half an hour.
  2. Heat oil in a wok.
  3. Lightly fry the capsicum juliennes with some garlic paste.
  4. Add the wings, lightly brown on both sides.
  5. Add the marinating liquid
  6. Cover and simmer till wings are cooked and tender.
  7. Towards the end, add a tsp of oyster sauce.
  8. Stir in the toasted peanuts and spring onions just before serving

Note: Add some cornflour+water towards the end if needed to thicken the sauce and make it stick to the wings.