Lohri is a time to savour the bounties of winter – the freshly harvested vegetables, and the time to celebrate the end of yet another fruitful year. In Kolkata, a few establishments are celebrating Lohri and a couple of places stood out for me.
Paranthe Wali Gali
Paranthewali Gali is a new kid in Kolkata, but its already started promoting a special Lohri Menu. The menu consists of a number of seasonal Parathas, Makki Ki Roti, Sarson Ka Saag, Gur ki Nimbu Soda, Gur Wali Chai, and, among other things, a rather addictive concoction called Masalewali Gur, which has a healthy punch from crushed coriander and fenugreek among other spices.
The Chholey Tikki Chaat has a soft croquet covered with the signature chholey from Paranthe Wali Gali topped with a healthy dollop of yogurt and coriander-mint chutney. I love the tang from the tamarind chutney and the sprinkle of tangy crushed masala on top. I also loved the traditional Makki ki Roti with Sarson da Saag, where the greens are the star – spicy and has a rather wonderful texture to it that I loved to the very end.
I wouldn’t have considered something as basic as a matar paratha to be my pick from the special paranthe menu, but this was my favourite, bursting with fresh, sweet peas, although the achaari nimbu paratha came a close second. I liked the Keema matar paratha, but found it slightly too salty for my taste.
The Shalgam ka Paratha was another table favourite, and although I am not a major fan of turnips, here, I can confidently say that this is going to make even the snooty turnip haters sit up and take note. All the paranthe can be served with a portion of Masalewali Dahi, which comes from a spicy oil spread over some creamy yogurt.
Among the drinks, I particularly enjoyed the hot, sweet, thick Gur ki Chai, which I want permanently on the menu, but what haunted me in the middle of that night was the Gur wali Nimbu Soda, the slightly mineral flavours of the gur working beautifully with the soda, which sort of makes me want this all through the summer.
The menu of Paranthe Wali Gali will continue till the first week of December, so head over to their Lake Terrace Outlet before the festival ends. A meal for two consts about 500-600/- INR.
Sanjha Chulha is one of the places which has been on the map of this city for more than a decade, and their festive menu is pretty fun – it has Quails in it too! I went over to their Ruby outlet, and was pleasantly surprised by the concise menu. The good thing about Sanjha Chulha is the fact that they are really homely and the food is what you should focus on, and their portion size is pretty good.
We began with Makki ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag, where the saag was totally different – this was smooth and quite mellow. I was expecting the mild bitterness of the mustard greens, but I didn’t find any. I did like the texture of the Makki Ki Roti, though, although I found it slightly on the greasier side.
The Quail came in a tandoori marinade, and it was thoroughly cooked, albeit on the drier side. It would, I believe, benefit considerably from a longer and creamier marinade, and/or a brine. I preferred the Chicken 65 which was served from their regular menu, with succulent bits of chicken thigh tossed with curry leaves, chillies and onions.
The Chholey was served with Amritsari Kulchey, and I liked the combination, the chickpeas soft and quite comforting, but I was looking forward to dessert at this point.
I have to admit – I am not the biggest fan of Gaajar Ka Halwa, but this is pretty good stuff, and I loved the abundance of dry fruits and the generous sprinkle of khoya on top, that was definitely what elevated this dish. The menu at Sanjha Chulha is going to continue till the end of this month, and a meal for two would cost around 800-1000/- INR.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited by the management of the establishments to check out the Lohri Menu.