Baisakh, and How!

It’s usual to see food and beverage establishments go to town with the same promotion someone or the other did the previous year, with the same theme and likely, the same dishes.

Yes, I speak of the harvest festival that’s usually celebrated around this time by multiple Indian cultures, in their own special way. Taking a cue from the fervour with which these festivals are observed by the public, most dining establishments too jump in, picking a culture and then designing a menu around it.

The issue: everyone does the same thing every year.

Blooms Does a Threesome!

The chef makes paniyarams (little fried balls, made in a vessel with multiple round moulds) and serves them with coconut and tomato chutneys.
The chef makes paniyarams (little fried balls, made in a vessel with multiple round moulds) and serves them with coconut and tomato chutneys.

At Blooms however, the all day dining restaurant at the Eros Hotel, Nehru Place, they chose to do it differently. They chose three cultures – Punjabi, Bengali and the south of India (in which they included Kerala and Tamil Nadu), created a nice buffet menu, set up the live cooking stalls and made a lovely cultural display outside the Blooms’ entrance. But that isn’t all. This property has a penchant for doing things right, however temporary they may be. You’ll notice mud and brick work on the stalls outside and if you look closely, there’s real wheat-grass growing in the outside display, made to look like … yup, wheat!

[quote]Chef Suprabhat Roy, the Executive Chef said, “We wanted to give our guests an experience that spans cultures and not any single one. Each culture has their own way of celebrating and cross promoting cultures and foods can only be a good thing, with our guests’ appreciation of experiencing three cultures in an evening being an added bonus”.[/quote]

What to Do When There

You can find authentic Bengali Puchkas at the middle stall in addition to Jhalmuri in little brown paper packets.
You can find authentic Bengali Puchkas at the middle stall in addition to Jhalmuri in little brown paper packets.

When you visit (it closes on the 23rd), you might just find Bengalis digging into tandoori chicken, paneer tikkas, bharwaan aloo and soft appams and chicken/vegetable stews. The Punjabis will likely be stuffing their faces with puchkasgobbling paniyarams with coconut and tomato chutneys and grabbing the very delicious Bengali Devilled Eggs, smearing them with strong kasundi before popping them into eager mouths. Visiting south Indians might head for the Amritisari Macchi counter for a bite or two of the crisp, good stuff, pass time with the Jhalmuri as their Mochar Chops (banana flower fritters) are cooking and most definitely squeeze some lemon over fried Kane fish, chomping the succulent flesh until their Meen Pollichathu comes along.

But that’s not all, oh no that’s not all…

This very traditional Bengali preparation is a part of the menu.
This very traditional Bengali preparation is a part of the menu.

…said the Cat in the Hat. If you thought that’s all Chef Roy was going to let you get way with, you have another think coming. Those, my salivating friends, were merely the live counters outside Blooms. Step into the restaurant and take a look at the three counters in front of you. The salad and cold counter on the left doesn’t usually change much, but will have a few additions from the theme. The dessert counter on the right too doesn’t change much, but will have a few desserts from the theme (I ate the ada pradhaman, my all time favourite; reminds me of my grandmother <3). The counter in the middle is where you should focus on; after all it bears goodies from four distinct cultures and any of us would be privileged to have all four fighting for space in our bellies, yes? The menu changes every day, so I’m not sure what you’ll find. Suffice to say, each dish was worth a try and that’s just what I did! You should too!

India has so many cultures and we’d be fortunate to know one really well. Here’s an opportunity to taste a few more. I’d visit and check out Bloooms’ Baisakh menu if I were you!

 

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.