“Am I talking to Indrajit Lahiri? Yes, please tell me. I am talking from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s team and we would like to have you in our team to assist Chef for his Kolkata Biryani chapter”. It was still a dream when the call was over. I mean, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is like a godfather for the Indian food industry. And that gentleman single-handedly made a cook, a chef. So, when it was a call from him, there was absolutely no turning back. And thus started a Kolkata Biryani walk for Sanjeev Kapoor, by one stupid Food bloggers from Kolkata.
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The cooking never stops and for good reason! Doosri destination ka waqt aa gaya hai… and Kolkata it is! ⠀ Stick around as we are about to explore the Bengali side of #TheBiryaniJourney Have you been to Kolkata? ⠀ Share with me your favourite Kolkata memories in the comments!⠀
Once the confirmation was done for the Kolkata Biryani walk by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, it was a series of numerous mail exchanges and telephonic discussion with the director of Sanjeev Kapoor, Mr. Runjiv Kepoor. Places had to be decided and I was given the responsibility. the challenge was, they had to be of different styles- Kolkata Biryani/ Legendary biryani, someone from the Nawab family, one Kolkata Bengali family running a biryani place- let me tell you, it was definitely not an easy task. But somehow, with the help of my friends, the itinerary was done. It was a hurricane shoot in 8 locations in 1.5 days time. I know, life is tough.
One thing I must admit. The shooting team was extremely professional. They had done the homework and knew what they want. As the logistics were taken cared of, the first place was my friend Sunando Banerjee’s house. Sunando leads a dual life. On one hand, he’s a high-flying high-honcho, and on the other hand, he runs a biryani restaurant chain. So, he was asked to cook Kolkata Biryani for Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. And I must say, he did a fantastic job on that day.
And as per Sanjeev Kapoor, Kolkata Biryani is like magic. So how come, we couldn’t invite the king of magic, Mr. P C Sarcar ? He came along with his wife and after the shoot, we all had a great adda session.
And what started afterward, if a whirlwind Kolkata city-tour till late night. Shiraz Golden restaurant was chosen for Kolkata-styled Biryani and Royal India Hotel was chosen for their Kolkata-styled- Lucknow-Biryani. And with chef Sanjeev Kapoor, hidden stories started coming out from the owners. On the 75th anniversary of shiraz Golden restaurant, Indian Postal Department had come out with a postal stamp for shiraz. And I must say, it’s no mean feat.
You can check about my compilation of best Kolkata Biryani here
On day 2, we had to rush, as Chef Sanjeev Kapoor had his flight in the evening. And morning in Kolkata, for a Kolkata biryani story, had to be a stroll in the market. And we chose the New Market. The walk ended with a local toast at this mundane shop with the full team and the Biryani (yes, a breakfast with Kolkata Biryani) at India Restaurant. and once the shoot was over, Sanjeev Ji was felicitated at the restaurant.
Biryani made by Manzilat Fatima was the last stop. I guess, if it’s a Biryani story, nobody can miss having the same from somebody, whose ancestors brought it to the city of joy. You can check about my experience at Manzilat’s here.
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#Trivia ⠀ Kolkata's iconic New Market feels like a journey back in time. This market possesses each and every ingredient to create a delicious plate of Kolkata-style biryani, right from the meat to the spices to the Jyoti variety of potato that is a must in this Biryani. In my opinion, New Market is the place that truly defines Kolkata, its food and its flavours. ⠀ #KolkataKiBiryani #TheBiryaniJourney⠀
My take home
After the day’s shoot was over, meeting a few friends is mandatory for any traveler. And it was the same case here. But in those two days, I had important learning. and it’s about being polite and simple. In those two days and during the planning days prior to that, never did chef Sanjeev Kapoor show any arrogance- no, not for a single time. Rather, form morning 6 till 11 at night, we had the great Kolkata Biryani walk. and all I can say finally is, I’ll cherish those two days.
Bon apetit !!!
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