We are from a very middle-class bengali family and eating out was a luxury. Still as far as I can remember, my father used to take us out at least once a month to different restaurants. And during that time, few cuisines ruled primarily during that period. chinese, Continental ( a mish-mash of Anglo Indian, French, Italian and what not) and north Indian. No, Biryani didn’t rule Kolkata food scenario as it does now and barring a few joints near Bishop Lefroy road, momo was almost unheard off.
So, during my college days, once we shifted to CIT Road from Bhowanipore, a drive along the newly made E M Bypass was an in thing and thus I noticed Sanjha chulha and our love story began for north Indian food. So, this blog post will be on Sanjha Chulha and their newest venture of food ATM.
Nostalgia rules over me …
Here, it might be interesting to share what north Indian food meant to me at that time. nowadays, if somebody asks me about north Indian food, I need to actually think. Are they asking about Northwest frontier cuisine, Kashmiri cuisine, garhwali cuisine- what … And I tend to get confused. But during those days, north Indian food meant few kebabs, where inevitably chicken Tandoori ruled and Mutton Sheekh kebab was mandatory. Chicken or Paneer in some brown gravy or reddish makhni gravy and one helluva Kaali Dal. Butter Naan used to be our standard staple, and I personally hardly went beyond it. ? Yes life used to be simple then.
But, now back to Sanjha Chulha … it was a simple restaurant, with simple good food. The kaali dal used to have a thick layer of white butter, tandoori chicken used to have that smoky flavor and pieces used to be big. And for a teenager, that was all it needed. So, let me be honest, rarely, I went beyond those 4-5 dishes there. and now, when after some 15 years of being regulars there and befriending the owners, the situation has not really changed.
If you want to check my other food memories, check here
The place has grown in leaps and bounds. It’s now a big two-storied building and two sit out areas (appr 80 seaters each) on the first floor and one moderately big banquet hall on the ground floor. They have other outlets in other places in the city as well and does outdoor caterings.
In fact, I’ve had my son’s birthday party there for last two years …
Food now, please …
Now if you go there, being a regular, I would suggest a few dishes. Definitely try their garlic naan and kaali dal. The naan is one of the best that I’ve had in Kolkata. The flavor of garlic is pretty strong and butter is brushed generously. And that’s what a good naan means to me. You can call me whatever, but that’s me. The Kaali Daal is cooked for a long long time and the taste certifies that. Again, an abundance of white butter on top. The third dish that I’d suggest is their Tandoori Chicken or their Angara Tandoori Chicken. Please don’t get confused. I am not shifting loyalty. If one doesn’t add the food color to Tandoori chicken marination and makes it a tad spicier, these guys here call it by Angara Tandoori Chicken. And typically, I feel a primitive carnal pleasure biting in those meat pieces …
Now recently, after so many years, I’ve fallen in love with their few other items and strange items with no relevance to the north Indian cuisine. And the first is their Chicken 65. It’s the typical chatpata, spicy, tangy pan-fried chicken dish with loads of curry leaves and slit green chilies. Weak-hearted ones might like to keep a distance from this dish, wherein lionhearts will swear by it. Please note, I am not talking of authentic stuff and there always is a debate on what is an authentic recipe. A recipe changes every 50 years or 50 km, so let’s concentrate more on taste here. The boneless meat used in this dish, is mostly from the drumstick portion and hence soft inside and crunchy outside, thanks to high flame pan frying.
So, what is food ATM?
But what differentiates this restaurant from other? And what is food ATM? Let’s discuss it now. In our houses during any gathering or event, normally we have some leftover food. Yes, however we plan, it’s pretty normal. And we do not know what to do with it. The food gets spoiled in a day and we normally don’t have storage for the same and what we do is, we throw away the food. And here, Food ATM comes into play. Food ATM is a cold storage system strategically put in a public place, where anyone can come and donate their leftover food. Sanjha Chulha has come up with their logistics system, where each day, they distribute the food from their Food ATM to needy people. The food ATM’s are set up in multiple places in the city including Sealdah railway station and the management is even coming up with a mobile Food ATM concept.
If you want to know the media coverage about the Food ATM by Sanjha Chulha, do check this link here
And when I met one of the managing partners Mr Asif Ahmed about the concept of Food ATM, here’s his take.
And final take …
Frankly, the food is nothing outstanding, but good simple value for money food. More importantly, consistent food over the years. And apart from some good food and loving youth memories, I like this place because of their CSR activities. And for us, the concept of Food ATM definitely will come in handy, especially during the upcoming festive season. Let’s try to enjoy the Durga puja by making few others happy …
Do let me know about your experience at Sanjha Chulha.
Bon Appetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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