|Nyonya Food Festival at The Wall|
The Nyonya food festival is starting off from 18th of July at The Wall, and it will continue till the 3rd of August, 2014. As I am a major fan of Nyonya, or Nonya food (literally translating to “auntie cuisine”), I ambled over to The Wall, and checked out for myself the things they have on offer.
|The Wall, Kolkata|
I was greeted by Chef Sushanta Sengupta, who was patiently explaining things for my benefit. He had devised a short, but succinct special menu which would be featured throughout, and he told me, while I sipped on my drink, the menu selection.
“We had to consider two things – taste and availability. While all the dishes here are authentic, they were selected on the basis of the availability of fresh ingredients. Typically, Nyonya food is very spicy, and we have toned down the level of heat slightly, but otherwise, the dishes are mostly kept the way they are, so that, those who have visited South East Asia and would love a taste of the food here in Kolkata, can find it at The Wall.”
|Chef Sushanta Sengupta|
I asked him what he thought would be instant hits here. “Definitely the Butter Fried Prawns, which is really striking with the use of curry leaves and butter, while tossing the crisp prawns. Also, the Nyonya fried chicken. But then, in the main course, we have Ayam Pengteh, which is a lovely chicken dish with fermented beans, that has really unusual flavors.”
So we progressed to the meal and started off with the Mee Siam – roughly translated to Siamese Noodles. This was a beautiful, tangy broth scented with cilantro and tamarind, with pieces of mushrooms, bean sprouts, chicken and battered and deep fried tofu. The soup was comforting on a rainy day.
The Rojak was spicy, sweet and sour. I am not much of a Rojak lover, but this was good.
|Nyonya Cabbage in Coconut Milk|
The cabbage in coconut milk was very delicate, where you could feel the presence of the coconut milk, but it was not overwhelming. There was a hit of heat here, which was welcome.
|Butter Fried Prawns|
Okay. Crispy prawns. Scratch that. Crunchy prawns. Smelling of butter, coconut, and curry leaves. Need I say more?
|Whole Steamed Fish, Nyonya Style|
The fish used here was a fillet of red snapper. It was very similar to a Mandarin Fish, but then again, it had the presence of heat from some Thai Chillies, and some mushrooms, which had soaked up some of the light, soy based broth. The fish was delicate and perfect with some rice.
|Nyonya Fried Chicken with Kecup Manis|
I sort of zoned into the Nyonya fried chicken, simply because I wanted more of the dark, sweet Kecup Manis on it, and the crunchy, juicy chicken pieces, smelling of turmeric and curry. I would happily eat a few plates of these. And well, I did.
|Jellied Mango Pudding|
I decided on the Jellied Mango Pudding. I have always felt that Malaysian menus tend to flop in India because of the lack of desserts which would be truly appreciated. Chef Sushanta explained the general boost of coconut-heavy desserts in South East Asia to me. “You see, most people of South East Asia is lactose-intolerant, hence their prevalent love for coconut milk and sugar. Except Philippines of course! They are Portuguese-inspired, and makes amazing cakes.” I agreed solemnly and dove into the mango pudding. It was mild, sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with a dab of whipped cream and fresh coconut on top. It sort of made me change my opinion about Malay desserts with its creamy, yet mild flavors.
The menu at The Wall contains all this and more. I checked out the Prawn Curry with Pineapple, the Otak Otak (fish cake), and a few other very interesting things on their menu. Check it out while the festival is on!
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited by The Wall to dine at the Nyonya Food Festival.