Monthly Archives: August 2015

Kolkata’s truffle rosogolla gets Forbes stamp

Kolkata :

For the last 11 years, this entrepreneur has experimented with sweets, taking his traditional yet popular family business to the next level. Today, this 33-year-old director of Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick Sweets has made it to the list of six most promising entrepreneurs in the country selected by Forbes India Magazine.

Sudip Mullick displays some of the innovative sweets at his shop.
Sudip Mullick displays some of the innovative sweets at his shop.

While working in the Oberoi Grand kitchen, Sudip Mullick picked up a European taste for desserts and dreamt of fusing them with the typical Bengali sweets their family shop was famous for. Now, the once-traditional sweetshop has become a one-stop destination for new age fusion mishti in the city.

Sudip is ecstatic that his efforts have got the 130-year-old brand recognized by Forbes India.

Names like strudles, pudding, truffles and souffles are now common on the Balaram Mullick racks and though they are mostly variants of the traditional sandesh and Bengali rosh er mishti in their myriad forms, you will be confused as to whether you are tasting a European delicacy or a Bengali favourite.

Sudip has mechanized the entire process by using machines he imported from Denmark, Taiwan, Japan and Italy, and fused various processes to churn out his own delicacies.

The Japanese machine used to make rice dust desserts there is used to make the jol bhora sandesh with a Japanese twist, the machine from Denmark that is used to churn out pure chocolate truffles is used to make chocolate-coated sandesh and rossogolla truffle and the Italian machines designed to make cookies are making golapi pera sandesh. There is a type of singara being made by a German machine originally used to bake patties.

“People have become health conscious and they avoid deep fried savories. The baked singaras have a big fan following,” Sudip said.

Other promising entrepreneurs on the Forbes list are Rahul Gonzalvez of Bangalore, for his digital design agency, Ashoke Thakur, for churning out vada paos by thousands in Mumbai’s Dadar, Sirish Duttatreya who is a third-generation second-hand book shop owner with over 9,00,000 titles in Pune and Parvatlal Kanhaiyalal Dubey who is the country’s biggest wedding planner.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey, TNN / August 14th, 2015

The chequered history of Kolkata’s banks

The ancestral home of Asutosh and Pramatha Nath, sons of the legendary Ramadulal De. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
The ancestral home of Asutosh and Pramatha Nath, sons of the legendary Ramadulal De. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

In the 20th century alone, hundreds of banks went belly up in the city, leaving many landed families in ruin

Photographs by Indranil Bhoumik.

It is historically documented that one Ramdulal De (1752-1825) rose from penury to become one of Kolkata’s wealthiest businessmen ever by wagering on the wreck of a ship.

As a manager in a shipping company, De was a man of modest means when he bid an astounding Rs14,000 to snap up a sunken ship. Within hours, he managed to sell it to a European with better knowledge of its cargo for almost Rs1 lakh.

No one knows what happened to the European who bought the ship, but De never looked back.

The more recent emergence of Chandra Shekhar Ghosh as an entrepreneur is equally fascinating.

Even in the early 2000s, he was travelling by public transport into the interiors of West Bengal and neighbouring states to stabilize the operations of a fledgling microfinance institution.

In only 15 years, Ghosh’s Bandhan Financial Services Pvt. Ltd is turning itself into a bank with bruised and battered Bengali pride riding on it for redemption.

West Bengal has a chequered history in banking. It was in Kolkata—then Calcutta—where the first deposit-taking bank was founded in the early 1770s.

Alexander and Co.—a British managing agency, or a diversified conglomerate—launched Bank of Hindostan in partnership with local moneylenders, or indigenous bankers called shroffs or banians in those days.

De was at that time one of the leading banians.

Many more banks were launched in the late 18th century, but all of them collapsed within 50-60 years. The reason? Speculation and overtrading by their founders. Bank of Hindostan survived three runs, but eventually went under in 1832 along with its founder Alexander and Co.

In 1806, Bank of Calcutta—one of the forebears of today’s State Bank of India—was established by a government charter. But because it was risk-averse and wouldn’t lend for more than three months, local businessmen—both British and Indian—continued to launch private banks.

The result was the same—more bank failures. The most storied failure was that of Union Bank Ltd (1829-48), founded by illustrious Bengalis such as prince Dwarkanath Tagore (poet Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather) in partnership with British companies.

When it collapsed, De’s sons Asutosh and Pramatha Nath had to pick up the tab for its bankruptcy. Whereas their father remained a banian, they had become shareholders of Union Bank.

According to some historians, Bengalis turned to safe-haven investments such as real estate following the collapse of Union Bank. Property prices zoomed.

Described by many historians as reckless destroyers of wealth, Bengalis returned to banking again in the early 20th century, ostensibly with the noble purpose of backing Indian businessmen to compete against the British.

These ventures were even more short-lived. Some wound up within years.

Between the early 1940s and the mid-1960s, West Bengal had gained unparalleled notoriety in bank failures, and former SBI chairman D.N. Ghosh blames it on greed, corruption and lack of regulation.

In the 20th century alone, hundreds of banks went belly up in Kolkata, leaving many landed families in ruin.

The state’s inglorious past has weighed on the minds of regulators, according to D.N. Ghosh.

Bandhan is a break from the past. It has earned the regulator’s confidence, and its conservative and risk-averse founder, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, is the Bengali community’s best bet for redemption.

The headquarters of the erstwhile Calcutta City Banking Corp., founded in 1863. Among its founders was Durga Charan Law, a wealthy banker and banian.
The headquarters of the erstwhile Calcutta City Banking Corp., founded in 1863. Among its founders was Durga Charan Law, a wealthy banker and banian.

source: / Mint On Sunday / Home> Photo Essay / by Aniek Paul / Sunday – August 23rd, 2015

Kolkata engineering college student winner of South Asia ‘Present around the World’ competition

Chennai :

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) announced the winners of South Asia ‘Present around the World’ competition on Friday. Present around the World (PATW) is the IET’s presentation competition for young engineers and technicians aged 18 to 26 years.

This year, the competition witnessed participation from engineers across India and Sri Lanka vying for the top honours. Individual competitors give a presentation for 10 minutes on a subject related to engineering and technology and answer questions posed by the jury for a further five minutes. The focus of the competition was on presentation skills of the young engineers and their ability to convey technical ideas to a non-technical audience.

Vishnu Hurkat from Techno India College of Engineering, Salt Lake, Kolkata, was declared the winner of the South Asia PATW finals. He was awarded a cash prize of Rs. 40,000 for his presentation on CMOS image sensors and will now compete in the global finals to be held in London later this year for a cash prize of £1,000 (approx Rs 100,000).

Angelin Indira J, student of St Xavier’s Catholic College of Engineering, Kanyakumari, was declared runner up for his presentation on “An outclassed hexacopter design with specialized robotic arm’ and received a cash prize of Rs 30,000.

Shekhar Sanyal, director and India head, the IET, issued a statement stating they were delighted to witness a peaked interest from engineers in a competition that focuses on soft skills of engineers.

“In an increasingly competitive world, we require engineers who possess not just technical skills, but are able to articulate technical ideas clearly and solve real-life engineering problems,” he said.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> Education> News / by Vinayshree Jagadeesh, TNN / August 21st, 2015

Les Clefs d’Or India Concierge holds its 9th AGM in Kolkata


Les Clefs d’Or India Concierge recently held its ninth Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kolkata recently.

The AGM was inaugurated by Zaid Farooqi, resident manager, Taj Bengal, Kolkata; James Ridenour chief concierge, InterContinental, Sydney and general secretary, Les Clefs d’Or International; Stephen Fernandes, past president, Les Clefs d’Or India; and Edwin Saldanha, president, Les Clefs d’Or India and Asian zone director, Les Clefs d’Or International.

Regional presentations were made by Rajesh Kumar Yadav from northern region, Sachin Singh and Apeksha Boricha from western region, David Aaron from eastern region, and Sri Kishen from southern region.

The treasurer and PRO reports were shared by Arun Baidya and Shaunak Vengurlekar respectively, and a speech on current trends was given by George Kuruvilla, general manager, The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata. A brand presentation on social media was conducted by James Ridenour who urged for maximum participation in the communications committee.

The new executive committee for the period 2015-2017 was also announced during the AGM.

The AGM continued with the opening of networking eve by Samrat Dutta, general manager, Taj Bengal Kolkata.

During the pinning ceremony 32 new members received adherent membership to Les Clefs d’Or India and 36 adherent members were upgraded to full membership status.

The UICH Honorary Member was awarded to Biswajit Chakraborty, general manager, Sofitel BKC, Mumbai for his contribution and support extended to the concierge society in India.

This was followed by the Concierge of the Year 2015 award which was given to Debayan Ghosh from Shangri-La, Bengaluru.

source: / Home> Food & Hospitality World / by FWH Staff – Mumbai / August 18th, 2015

Heritage tag on Bankim house

Bankim’s house at Panchanantala Road. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya
Bankim’s house at Panchanantala Road. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya

The house where Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay lived during his stint as deputy magistrate and deputy collector of Howrah has been declared a heritage building.

The 17-cottah park adjoining the house at 218 Panchanantala Road – called Bankim Park – has been included in the Howrah Municipal Corporation’s “demand register” for development grants.

Bankim Chandra, who wrote the national song Vande Mataram, had worked and lived in Howrah between 1881 and 1886.

“We have granted heritage status to 218 Panchanantala Road. The park adjoining the house will also be developed and a grant of Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for the project. An archive on Bankim Chandra along with a library and other facilities will be set up,” said mayor Rathin Chakraborti.

A bronze statue of the litterateur and administrator will adorn the park while the heritage structure will house a conference hall, a guesthouse and the proposed archive.

At the beginning of his first stint as an administrator in Howrah in 1881, Bankim Chandra would travel from his Calcutta home to his workplace every morning. He later decided to shift to the rented house at 218 Panchanantala Road.

Bankim Chandra lived in the same house during his second stint in Howrah from 1883. He wrote Muchiram Gurer Jibancharit while living in Howrah.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Dalia Mukherjee / Saturday – August 01st, 2015

I got more than I had expected!

Samir Chanda was one of the best production designers in the Bollywood film industry.

Beginning as an assistant to Nitish Roy who would do the production design for many mainstream films along with off-mainstream filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, he turned independent and went on to win a string of awards that included several National Awards for excellence in production design. He made his directorial debut with Ek Nadir Galpo, a full-length feature film in Bengali that was part of the Indian Panorama at the IFFI in Goa and was premiered at the 13th Kolkata Film Festival. Mithun Chakrabarty, who plays the central character, perhaps gives his career-best performance in this film. I interviewed Chanda back in 2007 and find it ironic that he should have missed the theatrical release of this beautiful film in the city last week. He passed away in 2011 of a heart attack. Excerpts:

What inspired you to get into direction in the first place?

It is a kind of knowing oneself, of looking within, of testing oneself with a new measuring rod. As production designer, I had read many scripts, visualised the story, underscored its meaning and translated its concept into reality for the moving image for directors I worked with. Time and again I would wonder, “How would I shoot this scene if I was directing the movie?” “Do I understand cinema?” “Will I be able to narrate a story for celluloid?” For the past few years, a longing to be on the other side of the fence, to share my original thoughts with other technicians and to tell a story in the simplest manner would plague me constantly.

You must have been going through many stories and story ideas. What is it that made you pick this particular story of Sunil Gangopadhyay?

I had read it when I was in college. It stayed with me forever! Whenever I thought of making a film — with other stories around — Ekti Nadir Naam kept coming back. Working with stalwarts of Indian cinema has given me a tremendous sense of aesthetics. I thought my first film should have a sense of strong visual appeal and also be aesthetically strong, a quality my directors transferred on to me. The river, the village, the sky, the people, the ambience of this story gave me the chance to show all that! The manner in which the writer had woven the bureaucracy, religion and the caste system of Bengal with an old man’s struggle to rename a river in memory of his young daughter was riveting. This was a story I was dying to tell, a story of a father who was unlike any other father. A father whose love for his daughter knew no bounds. But who would play the father? My first and last choice was Mithun Chakraborty, a multi-award winning Indian actor, one of the most popular actors of the ‘80s and ‘90s. I felt a miracle happening when he agreed to do the film even before I had completed the script or put the funds together.


How do you direct? Do you explain the character, scene, shot details and ask your actors to interpret? Or do you actually get down to physically showing them how to enact a given scene? Or, is it a combination of these two?

It was combination of both. With Mithunda and Shweta playing the two main roles, I did not dare to enact any scene. It was more of showing the actors positioning and a rough sketch of the scene. For Mithunda, I had to win him over by giving him a logical explanation of a particular scene and my job was over. With Shweta, my job was to emotionally move her into the character. She is an excellent actress. I genuinely feel I got more than I had expected!

How different was it to direct a senior actor like Nirmal Kumar, an award-winning actor like Mithun Chakravarty, a very young girl like Sweta who has also won the National Award, the little boy, and television actors like Krishnakishore?

I think actors are actors, whether senior or junior, TV or cinema. Unless they are on the same wavelength as you are, they cannot or may not perform well. My job was not to push anybody, but to explain where and how a given scene was placed within the film. Everyone was finely tuned in advance and was on the same wavelength as I was. This made it easier to ensure that I made a really good film. Can you imagine Mithunda doing his homework early in the morning while having his first cup of tea? He came on the sets without making a point. His dedication to his work after all these years is amazing.

Did you have a complete written script before you began to shoot the film? Or did the script get written while shooting was on?

Yes, I had a bound script with me. On location, I deleted some dialogues and changed the pattern of the scene sometimes. I focused on the father-daughter relationship and in the end, where the District Magistrate steps in to help. It was the human side of the Magistrate that helped this old man and not the official persona. I built the first half of the film because I needed to grow a plant, which holds a flower to blossom. Some evildoers came and trampled on this flower and destroyed it forever. The pain you then experience is something different. I wanted my audience to enjoy the presence of Anu and miss her too in the latter half! The location, the crowds, the situation, made me change a bit from the original in places — but without compromising on the content of the scene.

Your film is shot mostly on location. What pitfalls and obstacles did you face?

The film was shot on location in Burdwan district at a place call Naliapur, on the banks of the Bhagirathi river. The main pitfall was of accommodation; there was no hotel nearby, so we had to accommodate technicians in villagers’ houses, sharing one or two rooms in every house. Hot water had to be organised every morning as it was pretty cold. My unit was a big mix of different cultures. I had Tamilians, Maharashtrians, Oriyas and Bengalis. Mithunda, Shweta and the camera team were living on the first floor of a big house in a neighbouring village 60 km from the location. But nothing could come in the way of our collective motto of making a good film. My art department had created a market square, a bus stand and so on. The houses were altered according to the needs of the film and the morgue was built in a real health centre. We got so involved with the local people that the villagers were crying when we packed up.

As a production designer, pick a few films that you deem to be your career bests.

Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar, Shyam Benegal’s Sardari Begum, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar, Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra’s Aks and Rang De Bassanti. As a production designer, it is only one department you are handling, such as creating the right atmosphere, right ambience, etc. Direction means handling every department to see that the final result is just the way you wanted it. You must have patience to achieve this goal.

source: / The Statesman / Home> Marquee / by Shoma A. Chatterji / August 22nd, 2015

US college beckons colony boy

Manish Chowdhury steps out of his hut in Nazrul Pally. Picture by Sudeshna Banerjee
Manish Chowdhury steps out of his hut in Nazrul Pally. Picture by Sudeshna Banerjee

A college seat for an engineering degree and now a chance to specialise in multi-media over a year. Manish Chowdhury, the son of a housekeeping department staffer at Nicco Park, is dreaming big and this Friday the dream closest to his heart will take wing when he boards an Emirates flight for the United States.

He has qualified for a course in media studies at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. The 19-year-old will study there on a scholarship as part of the Community College Initiative Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States department of state.

“The Community College Initiative Program is designed to provide leadership training and an enriching educational experience for students from underserved communities around the world. Manish impressed us with his dedication to community service through his volunteer work at the NGO Prayasam. His superior academic record of obtaining a first division in the higher secondary science stream, passing the mandatory written English test, and his ability to express his goals clearly and enthusiastically during the interview carried him through,” Andrew Posner, public affairs officer, US consulate general, told The Telegraph Salt Lake.

Proficiency in English for a student who studied in a Bengali medium school (Acharya Prafulla Chandra Higher Secondary School for Boys in BK Block) did not come easy.

Manish at home with his mother and sister. (Sudeshna Banerjee)
Manish at home with his mother and sister. (Sudeshna Banerjee)

Working in the community since 2012 with the CG Block-based Prayasam (he is now the NGO’s group leader from Nazrul Pally), he was picked for the group’s Ontrack programme in which emphasis is laid on English language skills as well as soft skills. “It was a delight to teach him as he is so focused and so eager to learn,” said president Piyali Mazumdar.
Manish cleared the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), scoring 520 out of 600 marks. “We had to answer 70 multiple choice questions asked through headphones.”

The second year student of mechanical engineering at Techno India is a resident of Nazrul Pally. That’s the colony to the left of the bridge when approaching from Sector V to New Town. The brick-lined approach road into the locality starts from a cow shed under the bridge. The lane meanders by ponds on one side and two-storeyed shanties on the other where women in nighties with a dupatta flung over the bosom stand chatting in huddles. Off the brick lane, an alley, barely five feet wide, wends in through facing thatched bamboo hutments. In a dingy ground floor room of one, Manish stays with his parents and sister.

“My father has been saving up ever since I did well in Madhyamik,” says the tall sturdy boy, brimming with determination. His Madhyamik score was a creditable 78 per cent. “Father encouraged me to study science as his dream was to make me an engineer even if it meant funding a course in a costly private college.” The first semester’s fees have been paid at
Techno India and Prayasam has filed an application on his behalf seeking a waiver of his tuition fees.
Manmohan Chowdhury himself has studied till Class VII. “I did not dream of building a house and even sacrificed on day-to-day luxuries. My only goal has been education for my son,” says Manish’s father. He earns around Rs 8,000 but works overtime to earn another Rs 3-4,000.

Other than pursuing his engineering degree, Manish has been working hard at the Grassroots Film Studio set up at Prayasam, with support from Adobe Foundation. “I have made three short films so far.” The last has been screened at a number of places, from Nandan to IIM Joka, along with the other productions from the studio.
As part of his preparation, Manish is watching English news these days on the small TV set at home. “I have also watched a few Hollywood films to get used to the American accent.”

With Manish set to fly abroad, there is a buzz in the colony. No one in the area, after all, has travelled so far. Neighbours stop by to ask when he is leaving. “The only worry is what kind of food he will get,” admits mother Leena, adding that her son has never been away from home for so long. “As long as we get some news of him from time to time…” her voice trails off.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> Salt Lake> Story / by Sudeshna Banerjee / Friday – July 31st, 2015

Darjeeling hotel to be pulled down – Housing complex and hotel to come up

Mount Everest Hotel in Darjeeling. Picture by Suman Tamang
Mount Everest Hotel in Darjeeling. Picture by Suman Tamang

Hotel Mount Everest that in its hey day had hosted Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Amitabh Bachchan will soon be dismantled and a housing complex and a new hotel will come up in its place.

East India Hotels (EIH) Limited, which owns the Oberoi and Trident brand of hotels, has announced that it has sold the property to a consortium of businessmen led by B.M. Garg, a Darjeeling-based multiplex owner, for Rs 11 crore.

Today, Garg said: “The property has been bought by a consortium of businessmen. We plan to dismantle the hotel as it is a 100-year-old structure. The property was ravaged by fire and it has been closed for 30 years now.”

Garg said they had not yet finalised the details of the housing complex and the hotel that would come up.

“We have not yet given any name to our business consortium or to the project. We will soon hire an architect to work out the details of the housing complex — given its demand in Darjeeling — and a high-end modern hotel.
We plan to start work after the winter.”

The land on which the hotel stands now and two residential buildings near it — Rutland House and Newstead House — were owned by Darjeeling resident Nemy Chandra Bose.

The property, which stands on a plot measuring around 5 acres, is along Gandhi Road.The stretch was earlier known as Auckland Road.

It is hardly a kilometre away from Chowrasta and is close to the Circuit House.

Bose leased out the property to Arathon Stephen for 99 years, which was to end on December 31, 2013.

Stephen turned the property into a hotel and named it Hotel Mount Everest.

In 1925, Stephen transferred the hotel to Everest Hotels Limited.

In 1963, it was transferred to a firm called Hotel 1938 Private Limited.

In September 9, 1968, the property was transferred to East India Hotels Limited.

According to author Sanjay Biswas, who wrote the book Pahar Theke Hariye Jaowa Padachinhaguli, Jinnah had stayed at Hotel Mount Everest in 1917.

Actors like Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Rajesh Khanna and Rekha had also stayed at the hotel.

Suresh Periwal, the owner of Clubside Tours and Travel, the oldest travel agency in Darjeeling that was set up in 1948, said: “It is sad that an international chain of hotels is leaving Darjeeling. Their presence in Darjeeling would have meant lot of publicity for the place.”

Periwal was one of the first residents of Darjeeling to hold his marriage reception at Hotel Mount Everest.

“The hotel was devastated by a fire on October 19, 1978, and my marriage was on November 22, 1978. The hotel authorities ensured that the reception was held there. They closed down a section of the hotel with 30 rooms and opened the remaining 40 rooms for the marriage,” Periwal said.

Hotel Mount Everest was finally shut in June 1984.

Periwal said in 1969, a double room in the hotel would cost Rs 115 a day, while a single room came for Rs 85.

Today, Garg said they were hopeful that they would be able to start the construction soon.

Asked if the land mutation was under the name of EIH Limited, he said: “As of now, no. But we are confident that all issues would be resolved soon.”

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> North Bengal > Story / by Vivek Chhetri / Friday – August 07th, 2015

Kolkata forgets Job Charnock on 325th year of his landing

Kolkata :

Two red wild flowers were what the city had on offer for Job Charnock on Monday, the day that marked the 325th birth anniversary of his landing in Kolkata.

Nobody knows who the kind-hearted soul was who made it a point to pay homage to the founder of the city (though the high court had quashed the claim in 2003), but unknowingly he turned out to be an exception in a city that has forgotten the day for good.

Till 2003, Charnock was considered as the founder of Kolkata. Programmes were organized at the grave to mark the historic landing, which was even considered as the birthday of Kolkata. In 1990, the tercentenary of the city was celebrated on this day with global fanfare. But post the court order, the celebrations turned muted and headed for a slow death. And on Monday, Charnock’s grave inside St John’s Church near Dalhousie Square lay as non-descript as it has been lying for years now.

The grave is certainly older than the church since Charnock died in 1692, two years after he had landed on the eastern bank of Hooghly and discovered a cluster of prosperous villages that he thought would help him set up trade for the British East India Company. It’s another matter that other European traders had already set foot in different parts of what is now known as the Hooghly district, but there is no denying that this chance decision by Charnock was to change the fate of Kolkata and the entire country.

“Despite the controversy, there is no denying the importance of the day. Had he not done that, Plassey would not have happened in 1757 and the entire history of India would have been different. The day should definitely be specially remembered,” said historian Arun Bandopadhyay, president of the Society for Preservation of Calcutta that was set up by historian Nisith Ranjan Ray. Ray, along with historian Barun De, was among those who had argued the case in favour of Charnock in 2003.

St John’s Church, too, is sad with the neglect. “Apart from maintaining the grave as a heritage structure, what else can we do? The day has a great symbolic importance and the city should come forward to observe it. The structures with which we identify the city were mostly built by the British, can we deny that? Would all this have happened had Job Charnock landed somewhere else?” said priest of the church, Pradip Nanda.

Mayor Sovan Chatterjee agreed that the KMC did not do anything to commemorate the day. “Actually there is a controversy related to whether the day is actually the city’s birthday since the court has quashed that claim, but yes, Job Charnock can be certainly celebrated for his contribution and we will collaborate with St John’s Church from next year,” Chatterjee promised.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey, TNN / August 25th, 2017

Taste of Jains from Murshidabad comes to city

Kolkata :

Sheherwali cuisine, unique to Jains who had settled in Murshidabad around 400 years ago, is on the cusp of becoming ‘endangered’.

Evolved from a confluence of multiple cuisines, it is still the mainstay in the Sheherwali households of Kolkata. But with community now experiencing reverse migration and the young ones moving to other cities, a shadow has been cast over the cuisine’s survival.

“The Sheherwalis are famous for their gastronomic preferences. The meals are always served in courses. The food that is to be consumed is cooked daily. The dishes served at lunch are distinct from those served at dinner with summer and winter variances as well. The tradition was kept alive for centuries by the close-knit community. But, this is gradually disintegrating with inter-community marriage becoming inevitable and their daughters landing up in Marwari, Gujarati or Punjabi Jain kitchens. Also unlike our generation, when men were primarily in business and women homemakers, today’s educated youths are professionals. Many of them migrate to other cities and even abroad. They have neither the time nor the inclination to pursue the fine art of cooking Sheherwali dishes,” said Sumitra Jhunjhunwala, a member of the Sheherwali community.

In the years to come, it will be a challenge to keep authentic dishes, like Kachhe Kela Ke Chop, Kumra ka Murabba, Saloni Mewa ke Khichdi and Kachha Aam ke Kheer, alive. Already, Mirchi ka Achaar and Kaathbel Pachak are no longer made in the Sheherwali homes in Kolkata. These are instead procured from a family in Murshidabad’s Azimganj.

A cook booklet containing Anita Dugar’s favourite dishes that her children Sujata and Priyankar had compiled after her death has recently become much sought afterwith many Sheherwali families keen to send it to their children living away hoping that they would at least try out some of the recipes to learn the art. Mindful of the threat, the Sheherwalis in Kolkata are trying to retain the tradition to the best of their ability.

Businessman Tushar Singhi, who takes much interest and pride in the cuisine, said the community patronized special cooks who prepared Sheherwali food and sweets at marriages and other community events. “Even in the community, there are some who are catering from home to keep others rooted to the taste and affinity for the cuisine,” he said.

Though there is no Sheherwali restaurant in Kolkata yet, Singhi and others are well aware that the fine essence of Sheherwali cuisine needs to travel beyond their kitchens so that others get to taste it as well. Hence, when ITC Hotels approached Murshidabad Heritage Development Society to showcase Sheherwali cuisine, the community was delighted.

“In its endeavor to enable Indian cuisine its rightful place in the global culinary scape, ITC Hotels accords special emphasis on showcasing regional Indian cuisines while presenting global dining concepts, perfected on Indian soil. This initiative under the aegis of Kitchens of India will showcase Indian’s wealth of unique, undiscovered, royal and forgotten cuisines. Sheherwali is the first of the series. Sheherwali cuisine is a vegetarians paradise, in which Bengali meets Rajasthani, Afghan, Mughal, Awadhi and even several European culinary practices, making it a unique mix of ingredients and flavors that tantalizes the palate,” said ITC Sonar master chef Mayank Kulshreshtha. The cuisine will be on offer at Eden Pavilion in ITC Sonar from August 25 to 30 as part of dinner buffet.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kolkata / by Subhro Niyogi, TNN / August 24th, 2015