Admist the hustle bustle of the city, overlooking the dock and the ancient Lutheran Church sits the New Africa Hotel. On the 1st floor of this Hotel is the Bandari Grill Restaurant. During the day time you can get a glimpse of the sea, and also play peek-a-boo with the trees lining the church. At night, it is just a flurry of flashing car lights and the gentle dance of lights from the docked ships. It can be mesmerizing if you are like me, the kind of person to lose yourself in a crowd.
Chef Reddy and his Team have brought about an exceptional change in the buffet, with the support of their young and dynamic GM, Mr. Siddharth Chaudhary. A chit-chat with the Chef (joined 6 months ago) revealed that he has spared no efforts to dig into the streets of Dar hunting for the best spices and ingredients. Indian patrons at the weekly event have been overjoyed at the freshness of menu and the themes involved. And let me tell you, it is not just the food that has been “pixie dusted” but also the layout of the buffet.
Chef Reddy hails from India and has a noteworthy experience below his sleeve. His love for cooking is inborn, and an inheritance from his father. He has worked for renowned brands in India and Gulf, and now shares his expertise with us, lucky people of Dar. His style of cooking is progression and loves doing fusion while keeping the authenticity of the dishes, whilst making use of local fresh produce and spices.
The plan of action by the Team is to entice the residents of Dar through a gustatory experience from a new state of India week after week. This was the third week of the new Avatar of the Indian Nights – Bengali Cuisine, and they have already executed with panache Delhi Street Food and Amritsari cuisine. Now hang on, if you are a regular here, you don’t have to be disappointed because they truly understand that some food belongs to the soul and the customary favorites, and still have their space.
I was anticipating to be smothered by some inspirational dishes from the State, famous for its mustard pastes and sweet delights. As I walked into gate of Bandari Grill my eyes met with some catchy display of juices and drinks. Har ka Ras (mint and coriander with sour spices), Gul Lassi (passion fruit and yoghurt drink), Karaunda ka Sharbat (carussa carandas’ juice with honey) – sounds and looks good already. My personal favorite was the Gul Lassi.
There were two hearty Soups – Dal shorba with drumsticks(Lentil soup flavoured with drumsticks) and Gosht Elaichi Shorba (lamb soup flavoured with cardamoms). There was an interesting array of condiments to the soups – beetroot and banana chips, curried oil etc. Along with a bread station boasting of a very interesting and unique selection to choose form – shahi jeera roll, curry leaf and coconut roll, spice and cheese roll were the most appealing.
Indians are truly fond of their Chaats or street food, which mostly comprise of some tongue tickling food. Bandari Grill will ensure that your street food desire is appeased with their spread of Dahi Bhalla (lentil dumplings in yoghurt sauce), Paadi Chaat (crispy fried biscuits dipped in yoghurt and tangy sauces), Paani Poori (flour balls filled with spicy minty water with sweet sour sauces). Adjacent to the chaat counter, you will find yourself spoilt for choices with the Farsaan station with a range of snacks along with onion and spinach fritters. These two stations have been specially added keeping the vegetarians in mind.
Healthy eaters don’t have to feel dejected. A creative variety of Salads to choose, from shrimp and avocado salad, bbq chicken with papdi, sweet potato chaat (I was floored by the taste) and a few more. Besides these were a whole range of Condiments of Raitas and Chutneys to take your pick from, and fresh fruits.
All this fanfare and we still haven’t reached the real deal of Appetizers and Main course. So without much ado, I will move onto the theme of the night – “Bengali cuisine” which is predominantly flavored with their glorious panch poran or five spice powder, and the pungent mustard pastes. The Chef presented the street style Kolkatta Egg Roll along with Machhi Kasundi Tikka, Mochar Chops and the likes.
The main course gave you a wide choice of Tawa Murg Khatta Pyaz (chicken and onions in pickling spices), Chingri Malai Curry (prawns in coconut milk), Mangsho Aloor Dum Biriyani (lamb and potato biriyani) were the star of the night, along with khumb palak, daal makhani and tadka, paneer in cashew nuts etc.
The Dessert section will undoubtedly wow you with its visual appeal and sensorial delight – lemon curd with kheer, beetrool halwa swiss roll, honey and masala tea panacotta were the fusion desserts of which the panacotta left me asking for more. Perfectly executed showcasing the perfect flavors of the spices used.
How can I leave without mentioning the feet tapping Bollywood favourite tunes out by the Varda Arts, enhancing the pleasure of the food you are noshing upon.
So, if Indian cuisine is your heart’s desire on a Saturday evening and Bollywood hits are your weakness then look no further and head straight to the Bandari Grill at New Africa Hotel.