Bengali Food from Mustard, Little India
I've been told by mutiple people to come to this place (32 Race Course Road, 6297-8422) over the years. Only yesterday did I finally make it down here with some colleagues, and I liked it so much that I came right back again today. They serve Bengali and Punjabi food as a result of two friends that started the place, but we stuck purely to the Bengali side. It was named Mustard after all, which I learned is a key Bengali ingredient. In fact, I was surprised to find that one of the mild mustard dips we got with a fried fish appetizer was kind of reminiscient of some whole grain mustards from Europe (but definitely not that mass produced French's yellow mustard that one squeezes onto hot dogs in the US).
Well, it was really another fish that brought me back here the next day: the maacher paturi, or a fish smothered in mustard and steamed in a banana leaf that was so amazingly tender that I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Once it came out, I singlehandedly cleared the entire fish together with a couple of deep fried luchi flatbreads in just a couple of minutes. Yes, it was that good. See, the great thing about Bengali food is that it is not the spicy salty stuff that one might normally associate with "Indian food." Instead, it's very seafood based, and kept lighter as a result. In that sense, it's kinda like the epiphany I had earlier this month about food in Xiamen being so light and fresh that it was completely unlike the heavy oily stuff that one usually gets in Beijing. I definitely prefer the former.
Now, there were of course some interesting twists. That white curry pictured above, or chicken rezalla, featured a whole chili pod that was apparently the result of outside influences, while the curry itself was so rich that I nearly passed out - in a good way. It was unlike other curries that one might normally think of with a bunch of spices ground up to give it a dark color. This was heavily yogurt-based, providing a unique tanginess at the end that I just loved. Other key highlights here included the chingri maacher malai curry, or prawns in a delicious coconut sauce, as well as aloo jhuri bhaja ar cholar dal, or lentils with a shoestring potato topping. It actually wasn't as magnificent as I imagined it to be, but I'd still order it again. Either way, this place rocks, and I'm definitely coming back for that maacher paturi. And I'm keeping that entire fish all to myself. :)