There are two kinds of Indians, one that love mustard and the other that cannot stand it. If you belong to the first kind, 25 Parganas is a must visit for you.
Owing to Sahara Star Hotel’s owners’ bong connection, the Mumbai hotel recently launched an authentic fine dining Bengali cuisine restaurant named 25 Parganas that takes a cue from one of West Bengal’s districts-24 parganas.
Since inception, Bengali cuisine has had influence on its neighbouring states, including Odisha. And, as an Oriya I have grown up with some of the typical Bengali-oriya dishes cooked at home by my mother most of them using mustard, posto, dishes prepared from poi or pui (a kind of leaf vegetable also known as vine spinach) and mustard oil used for cooking almost every dish. This was my chance to relive all those childhood memories. So, I jumped with the thought of dining at 25 Parganas.
Glass walls, beautiful checkered floor, elegant seating and an open kitchen, 25 Parganas’s décor is minimal yet striking with just 44 covers.
One look at the food menu and you know that it’s going to be a memorable meal. For starters, Bhaja aar Bhapa (fried and steamed vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes), main course includes Maach (fish dishes), Mangsho aar Murgi (Mutton and chicken), a section on Tarkari (curry dishes that includes a variety of authentic Bengali curry prepared by several types of vegetable dishes out of often rejected peels, stalks and leaves of vegetables), and then one of my favourites- Didimar heshel theke (innovative recipes from grandmother’s kitchen, mix vegetables with meat, prawns and fish). The dessert section can leave you wanting for more. Mishtis (sweets) such as Rosogolla, Mishti doi, Chennar payesh, Chenaar malpoa and Nolen Gurer Ice cream (dates jiggery ice cream) surely are enough to satiate a sweet tooth.
The restaurant surprisingly does not have a separate drinks menu of its own. Though it serves all the drinks that are available from the hotel’s drinks menu. I called for a cocktail- Cool Cucumber but settled with Grover Zampa Sauvignon Blanc for the rest of the evening instead. The wine paired really well with some of the -without mustard or not- so- over powering- mustard dishes.
Of all the dishes the ones that really worked well were, Pattay mora chingri bhapa, Gondhoraj murghi (Bengali lime with chicken preparation, the smell of that lebu is spellbinding), Motorshuti chennar chop (pan fried homemade cheese & green peas made into a mouth melting patties), Bhara potol bhapa(summer gourd steamed with a stuffing of spiced vegetables & nuts), Beet bora (delicious deep fried cutlet with signature beetroot filling along with other winter vegetables), a definite try and in the main course, of course, Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton preparation with ground and whole spices served with rice or luchi or parota. If you like to experiment, should also try Chingri pui ghonto (pohi greens, known as climbing spinach considered to be high in protein & fibre, is combined with prawns & spiced with panchphoron). For vegetarians I would suggest Laabda (a vegetable medley, tempered with panchphoron). Palong saager ghonto(medley of spinach, cauliflower and other vegetables tempered with panchphoron & ground spices) and Narkel diye cholar dal (chana dal with crunchy fresh coconut tempered with whole spices) with luchis is just divine. Or with Gobindobhog chaal, the indigenous rice variety from Bengal tossed in Ghee and aromatic whole spices.
And despite a heavy-meal such as that, saving some space for the Nolen gurer ice cream was the best decision I ever made in a restaurant.
The delicious, authentic and mouth watering experience could fill your appetite but will definitely leave you wanting for more. It is the first authentic 5-star Bengali restaurant in Mumbai. It is expensive understandably because most of the ingredients are sourced from West Bengal. And you also pay for the fine dining experience. Service is good, staff is prompt and knowledgeable. Chef Prasenjit Ghosh is doing a fabulous job of keeping the flavours of Bengal alive especially after working in New York for more than a decade. Even my hardcore north Indian food enthusiast, Punjabi friend loved it. So, go try it out, at least once.
Sahar Hotel, Andheri (East), Mumbai.
(Meal for two without drinks will cost around Rs3000- Rs4000)
For reservations please call (91-22) 3890 7444 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Operational Hours: 7:00 pm to 1:00 am
***The writer visited the restaurant on invitation and paid for her own drinks***