For my business purposes, I go to the north-east part of India quite regularly. In fact, Guwahati in Assam and Agartala in Tripura is quite familiar to me. So the first time I got some black rice from Guwahati to my home, my family was kinda shocked. But I am good at nagging and Oindrila cooked the payesh with that Black rice. The color was purple and the texture was slightly sticky. And that was my first tryst with black rice.
But that’s long back and now, black rice is becoming a rage, even in Kolkata, thanks to a restaurant. And this post talks on that.
Black rice ???
Black rice is glutinous rice. It’s grown mostly in South East Asia. In Manipur, this is very popular and named as Chak Hao. There and in Myanmar, desserts are made out of it. And owing to the typical glutinous nature, it comes out well. But there is this new place in Kolkata named Ekdalia RD, who is experimenting a lot with the variety.
So, Ekdalia RD is a small restaurant. If one goes from Kasba flyover towards Ekdalia Evergreen Durgapuja zone, it comes on your tight. Tucked in a lane, it’s visible from the main road. The parking space is limited to 2-3 vehicles, but paid parking is available on the main road. Surojit Rout has converted the ground floor of a residential building into a restaurant. Hence, instead of one or two large rooms, 2 small seat-out areas are there and there’s the show kitchen. The seating arrangement is done innovatively. Though I’d have loved the typical setup, But this one looks good and gels with the ambiance well.
‘Whenever we go to a new place, we tend to consult the person-in-charge for the suggestion. My friend and senior food writer Sabyasachi Roychowdhury were there in town and we met up there over lunch. We ordered crunchy papaya salad as starter and Surojit sent two pineapple based mocktails as welcome drinks.
Surojit used to be a hardcore finance guy working in UK. But somehow the entrepreneurship bug got him and he had shifted his base here in Kolkata to follow his passion- food. And more than a money-making venture, Ekdalia Rd was his love. However, food arrived by then and we started on it. Frankly, the plating in Ekdali RD is fantastic. The crockery is hand-picked and colored. The food is served in such a way, that it’s visually stunning and definitely worth a pic.
The salad was good with 5-6 large slices of Bacon. Though I’d have loved it with more seasoning, it tasted good. Maybe, I am biased with the Som Tam salad for any Papaya Salad.
Sabyasachi da and myself, we both are a fan of Porkchop. And surojit suggested Pork Chop with Chimichurri Sauce. Now, chimichurri sauce is something not very familiar in Kolkata. It’s basically a parsley-based uncooked sauce, used for grilled meat. In the Pork dish, I must say, I was impressed by the pork quality. The meat quality was fantastic. It was soft, yet the texture was spot on. But I like my pork as lean meat and this was with a slightly higher fat ratio. The taste was good though, no complaint.
And the next dish was Kingfish Steak. and this dish was the showstopper of the day. The quality was perfect and grilling was done right. If I go back again, I’ll go for this one definitely. But whatever be it, loads of care was given to detailed plating and it’s evident from even the pile-up of mashed potato.
Next dish was the famous Kadaknath chicken with black rice. For those who do not know, Kadaknath chicken is the black chicken locally bred in Madhya Pradesh. The meat and even the bones are black in color. It’s fat content is very very low, as compared to normal chicken and thus, is said to be more healthy. This was my first tryst with Kadaknath chicken and frankly, I was not really impressed. Please don’t get me wrong, the dish was great, but the chicken tasted like a normal country chicken. There were black veins inside the meat (please check the pic) and it tasted of good quality.
The black rice, however, was interesting and I’m so happy that they sell this black rice preparation as an a la carte dish, other than an accompaniment.
The dessert was home-made Muffins. I am not really a fan of desserts, so maybe the next time, I’ll give it a skip. Overall, the experience was fantastic. I’ve seen these small owner-run boutique restaurants in other parts of the country and the USP always is the individual touch and look for details. And this place is no exception. The pricing is a bit on the higher side, but I guess it’s alright, keeping in mind the high real estate investment and interior cost.
Recently a fantastic food festival was curated by the renowned food writer Pritha Sen and here is my experience …
And the rice festival at Gateway Hotel
But the second part of this blog post is on a very interesting food festival. As per record, West Bengal is the highest rice producing state in India. So, one food festival with the different varieties of rice and food paired with them, was long due here. Luckily, Gateway Hotel Kasba had come up with the same.
Executive chef Deep Mitra Thakur, along with GM Sourav Ghosal had worked long and hard for this. I played a very very small part in conceptualizing the menu. But, the entire credit goes to the management. We were invited to a pre-release tasting session. Now everybody has got a superpower and mine is, being super-critical, Jokes apart …
You can check on my Hilsa experience at The Gateway here
The entire menu was divided into two segments- thali and a la carte. Many of the rice varieties were unknown to me even. So for ease, let me list them down here.
- Badshahbhog from Birbhum
- Tulaipanji from Dinajpur
- Gobindobhog from Birbhum
- Gandheswari from Bankura
- Dudheswar from 24 Parganas
- Agniban from 24 Parganas
- Kalonunia from Jalpaiguri
- Bahurupi from Nadia
- Kananchur from 24 Parganas and
- Kamini Atap from 24 Parganas
We tasted the thali and let me be honest, one thali is difficult to fully finish by one single person. I am, by no means, a light eater. But this was too much. 5 varieties of rice, including my favorite Black rice, were there with fish, mutton, chicken and other accompaniments. And I must say, they’re a treat to simply look at.
I always believe in something. Whoever introduces something new, becomes the leader and I must thank The Gateway Management to think up of something like this. And managing the logistics and pulling up the show is a big deal in this case.
So, how many varieties of rice have you tasted? How do you like the Black Rice? Do let me know in the comment section.