Tribal food is pretty rare in big metro cities like Kolkata. And honestly, who eats tribal food here? In fact, forget about who eats them- let’s ask ourselves what do we really know about tribals in India. As per Google, there are more than 450+ registered tribes in India and Bengal has got quite a substantial number. And how much we hue and cry, let us be honest, that tribal food is not really very popular here, apart from some food pop-ups and mahua- the famed alcoholic drink. So, when I got to know that a new tribal restaurant has come up in New Town, Kolkata, I personally was pretty excited. And so were my friends. And thus, this post is on our experience at Dhamsa- the tribal Kitchen.
Location and ambiance of Dhamsa
Dhamsa is tucked deep inside the Eco Park. In fact, if you are frequent to the place, you need to get inside gate no 1 and drive for around 1.5 km towards the herbs garden and Golf course. Somewhere in between, after the nice marine drive (LOL), comes Dhamsa. Please check the location on Google Maps here.
Dhamsa- the tribal kitchen is operational on all days, except Mondays. Hence, please set your calendar accordingly.
Well, first things first. The primary challenge is to find the place. The signage system is pretty mixed up and you need to seek the help of the security guards for direction. And secondly, it’s quite a nice walk from the car park. Now, there are two aspects to this. Either you’ll love the walk. It’s beautiful and soothing. But for an aged person, it’s slightly difficult. But once you reach the place, it’s beautiful. There are few open-air sitting arrangements outside. Food is not served there but is used for some nice leisurely time, pre or post-meal. Inside is AC and well decorated- no issues.
The good part is, the pricing at Dhamsa is extremely pocket-friendly and at times, you can be surprised at how they are running the show. Please check the menu here. It’s clearly divided into two segments- the green-colored one is for snacks items and is named Godhuli Bela r Adda and the orange-colored ones are for the main course. The emphasis is on thalis, or set meals… but there are quite a few very interesting items. When we went, most of the items were available, except for the Googli. But, that’s okay, I guess.
starters at Dhamsa
We reached Dhamsa at around 330 PM and were extremely hungry- and thirsty too. while a beer would’ve suited us, but got settled with Hazarduari r Sherbet a.k.a green mango sherbet. God knows why they don’t serve Beer in these types of serene places. The sherbet was chilled and soothing and most importantly, aesthetically served in Kansa or Bell Metal tumblers. Nice stuff and at 49/- a glass, I couldn’t expect anything more. God knows why and how I forgot to click a picture of the same, but other than apologizing, can’t really help.
Prawn cutlet and Egg Devil were served next. They come 2 pcs a portion. While egg devil was pretty decent, the prawn cutlet used mashed soft-shelled prawns. In fact, it was a bit of a turn-off. The egg devil, on the other hand, was good. It’s definitely not the best one that I’ve had- but a pretty good one.
The burnt tomato chutney, that is served with the Egg Devil, is a gem and shouldn’t be missed. In fact, the burnt green chilly is super and I got a few extra for the rest of the dishes.
But what came next, was a surprise. The Banshpora mutton was definitely among the best, that I’ve had in Kolkata. And contrary to many popular joints, it was actually cooked inside bamboo. The bamboo piece was super hot and burnt when served. 4 pcs are served in one portion and are good for 2 persons. The meat is quite less spicy and is good.
Chicken Khorika was decent in taste. And maybe I felt it because I had it after the superior mutton. Khorika means a type of kebab, where meat is cooked in a bamboo skewer. It’s a pretty popular dish in Assam and it was a surprise to see it here, at Dhamsa.
Main course thalis at Dhamsa
Being quite full, once we started ordering for the main course at Dhamsa- the tribal kitchen. We ordered 2 thalis- the Panta Thali and the Borishali Thali. Apart from the thalis, one extra portion of kalo chal er bhat was ordered. And that’s where we did the mistake. the thalis were huge and we were full. Though the black rice was aromatic and tasted nice, we couldn’t finish it.
Panta Bhat was nicely finished with the mandatory onion, green chilly, and gondhoraj lebu slice on top. From the accompaniments, it seemed this thali was probably conceptualized, keeping in mind, Orissa. And the Panta Bhat was like the Odisi Pokal Bhat. Alu bhorta and Saag bhaja were decent- neither bad, nor good. But the mourola machh bhaja (deep-fried anchovies) stole the show. It was the star. In fact, I also liked the Bori chura (lentil dumplings fried and crushed with chopped green chilies) and papad chura. I am not sure if that’s the Odissi thali, what was the Piyaji doing there. Nonetheless, it tasted good.
Rather, the Borishaler Thali was interesting. It consisted of simple dishes- don perfectly. The rice used, was like Gobindo bhog- small-grained and supremely aromatic. And the tok Dal (masoor dal flavored with green mango) stole the show. I am always of the belief, that whoever can cook a good dal, is an artist. The kucho machh er bhuna (again from anchovies) was brilliant and literally overshadowed the above-average chicken curry. I didn’t bother having the kochu r loti and can’t comment.
One bowl of black rice kheer came complementarity with the Borishaler Thali and we ordered another portion separately. It was good. Now, if you go by the looks, it’s an interesting purple-colored rice kheer- but the sticky black rice made it different and worth trying. Overall, definitely recommended. Well, the quantity is of a half-finished bowl- so please don’t judge it.
what did I like at Dhamsa- the tribal kitchen
- Definitely the concept of having a restaurant serving tribal food in Kolkata. It takes a vision and lots of guts to do so
- The pricing- it’s super pocket friendly and meal for 2 should be around 600/- on the upper side
- Calm and quiet ambiance
- the aesthetics of serving the food in Kansa or bell metal utensils
- Good honest food taste
What can be better
- The signage can and should be better. It’s a pain to find the place
- Being a restaurant serving tribal food, I can expect to have more varieties of meat- definitely a couple of pork dishes
- And if I am over-ambitious, some country liquor….. just maybe!!!
Overall, Dhamsa is a good place and will need our patronage. Visit the place and let me know your experience.
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