Lunching At Koshe Kosha, Calcutta: Understanding Bengali Cuisine Beyond The Aloor Dom

If you have been reading my Calcutta Chronicles, you’d know that, on our trip, we didn’t have much good luck with our meals. I’m sure Calcutta has beautiful eateries serving glorious food, but we just didn’t manage to find any, till the very last day of our trip. Most meals we had in the city were very average or, worse, utterly pathetic.

The last day of our trip, though, as I said earlier, was different. Through sheer luck, we ended up at the Koshe Kosha outlet near Park Street, on this day, and I was immediately filled with a sense of joy and peace. The restaurant felt like what we had been looking for throughout our stay in Calcutta, and I knew we were in for a good meal, finally. And a good meal we definitely had.

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Decor and ambience

The place had a warm and welcoming ambience which enveloped us the minute we entered. The eatery isn’t very big, but not tiny either.

We were ushered to the upstairs seating area, where I loved the simple but classy decor, especially the wooden ceiling beams and the checkerboard tiles on the floor. The hanging lights were pretty, pretty, pretty.

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Pretty sight, right?

I also loved how the paintings on the walls depicted everything that was typical of Calcutta (Bengal, rather) – from Sindoor Khela and Shubho Drishti (do look them up if you don’t know what they are!), to the cycle rickshaws on the streets, Victoria Memorial and Howrah Bridge.

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A painting depicting Sindoor Khela at Koshe Kosha

I liked how one of the walls was decorated with Bengali books, though I couldn’t understand anything about them. Another wall was decorated with CDs of Bengali music (something I’ve always been fascinated by, but have never really studied in depth) as well as pictures of Bengali greats. Love!

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The CD and picture wall at Koshe Kosha

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Food and drinks

The Koshe Kosha meal was significant for me in the sense that it opened me up to a whole new world – the world of vegetarian Bengali food beyond the aloor dom. I am a big fan of the Bengali aloor dom, ever since I tried it for the first ever time this Durga Pujo, but I didn’t know any other vegetarian dishes from the cuisine. The visit to Koshe Kosha, therefore, came as an eye-opener.

First up, we ordered a Gondhoraj Ghol, a Bengali lassi made with Gondhoraj lebu, that very unique lemon from Bengal.

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Gondhoraj Ghol at Koshe Kosha

Served with a wedge of the famed Gondhoraj lemon, the ghol was just perfect – just the right mix of salt and sweet, and filled with the fragrance of the lemon. There were bits of Gondhoraj peel in the drink (no hint of bitterness, though!), which took its taste and texture to a whole new level. Beautiful!

The husband ordered a Bengali thali, so we could sample a whole lot of offerings at one go, and it turned out to be another beautiful experience.

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From left to right, in clockwise direction around the plate in the centre, are: Baked Rosogulla, Papad, Tomato Khejur Chaatni, Daal, Ghee, Shukto, and Dhoker Dalna. In the plate, there’s rice on the right, and on the left (from top to bottom) are Begun Bhaja, fried potato shavings, and another fried dish that I now forget the name of.

The chaatni and the baked rosogulla (the traditional sugar syrup-drenched rosogullas, baked in an oven to give it a lovely caramelised taste) were simply gorgeous, and both of us loved them to bits. The fried items were a close second favourite, followed by the dhoker dalna (chana daal cakes cooked in a flavourful gravy).

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Dhoker Dalna at Koshe Kosha

Apart from the baked rosogullas, the shukto was something I had never seen before this thali happened. For the uninitiated, shukto is a vegetable gravy-based dish that includes all sorts of vegetables, like the bitter gourd, brinjals and drumsticks. (Bengalis believe that their thali should include foods with all kinds of tastes – sour, salty, bitter, spicy – and the shukto added the bitterness). It wasn’t very bitter, as I had always imagined it would be, just mildly bitter. Though the shukto here was very well done, neither the OH nor I fell in love with it.

I ordered some phulka rotis with chhaner dalna, the latter being a dish of fresh cottage cheese cubes cooked in a lightly spiced gravy. The rotis were lovely, and the chanar dalna was perfectly done, too – the cottage cheese was super fresh and soft, and the gravy was heavenly in taste.

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Chaaner Dalna at Koshe Kosha

After all of this deliciousness, we were in the mood for one more dessert, and chose an Aam Mishti Doi (because their famed Nolen Gur ice cream was out of stock). It was super-duper awesome!

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Aam Mishti Doi at Koshe Kosha

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Service and pricing

The service staff was friendly, courteous and helpful, we found. They were patient enough to explain to me the names and characteristics of the various dishes we were served, and even arrange them the right way so I could get good photographs of them!

Prices were, we felt, decent. We paid about INR 650 for everything we had (including a Green Salad, which is not in the pics). The thali was good enough to serve two, to be honest.

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Our verdict

All in all, a hearty and delicious meal was had by us. An enlightening one, too, for it only whetted our appetite for more Bengali vegetarian delicacies. I was thrilled to discover that we have a Koshe Kosha outlet in Bangalore as well, where I can watch the movie after having my senses titillated with this beautiful trailer. Yay!

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Have you read the other posts about our recent trip to Calcutta? Please do, if you haven’t already!

Calcutta Vignettes

Calcutta Diaries: Pastry Sampling At Flury’s, Park Street

Calcutta Vignettes – 2

Visiting Nahoum’s, One Of Calcutta’s Oldest Surviving (Jewish) Bakeries

Calcutta Vignettes – 3

Calcutta Diaries: Of Hogging Street-Side Jhal Muri

The Weirdness That Was Doodh Cola

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