Big Bongg Theory | Jhol, bhaja and flavours!
As a food blogger, it’s exciting to eat out often, meet new people, try different cuisines and experience a range of distinct flavours. However, sometimes repetition can make things mundane, when everything starts to taste similar.
Off late, after visiting an Italian, Chinese or other contemporary food eatery, I would come back home and wonder how differently can I write about a burger, pasta or a chicken curry. To my respite, as things turned gloomy, I happened to visit Big Bongg Theory.
A tiny little place (3 covers) in Shahpur Jat,Big Bongg Theory serves authentic Bengali food and its is pure delight! Simplistic and minimalistic, this place is unpretentious and earnest. With simple white furniture and green planters, here food does the talking.
Excited to eat and craving for rich Bengali food, I ordered a:
- Bengali Extravagant Thali
- Baigun Bhaja
- Aamadar Sorbot.
While I waited for my food, I couldn’t help but think about the time I had spent in Kolkata. From not knowing anything about fresh water fish or eating just with my hands, by the time I left Kolkata,, I had come a long way. I am a self-proclaimed and the biggest fan of Paturi Bhetki, Baigun/Maach Bhaja and don’t even get me started on Kosha Mangsho.
Funnily enough, I never realized how much I enjoyed this food, as much as I do now. I used go to my Bengali friends’ room, where I would find them making Kichuri and Maach Bhaja everyday. I would always wonder, if they ever got bored of it. Clearly they weren’t.
The arrival of Aamadar sorbot, brought me back from nostalgia and I could hardly hold my excitement. The drink was a great mix of Mango – Ginger, made out of white ginger, a perfect ode to the Mango season.
Then after a long wait, my non-veg extravagant thali arrived on the table. An assortment of Alurdum (potato), Luchi (puri/bread), Shorshe Maach (fish curry cooked in mustard oil and seeds), Mutton Jhol (mutton curry cooked in spices and potato), rice and spicy mango chutney.
Each dish tasted distinct and with each bite my eyes were filled with tears of joy. Finally I was savouring food that was once my regular fare, right here sitting in my own city Delhi, not Kolkata.
The soft luchis with spicy Alurdum, the pungent mustard curry of the juicy fish and thick mutton curry’s aloo were just beyond exceptional. However, the real joy was Baigun Bhaja. One of my most favourite memories from Kolkata, I would relish Baigun Bhaja with Khichudi or even with Khajur Chutney. I would ask Basanti Didi (my cook and the lady who looked after me when I was away from home) to make Baigun Bhaja even along with my roti, which she would call ruti. According to her, it was a crime to combine the two, but she never argued.
Lost in memories, I failed to realize that, I had reached the last leg of my meal. I finished off by licking the bowl full of umami flavours of the Mango chutney. The red chilli (powder), chunks of sweet and sour mango, had been cooked together wonderfully and looked divine as well.
However, it wasn’t over yet. I couldn’t walk out of a Bengali restaurant without having Payesh. This Bengali Kheer (sweetened milk cooked with rice) is made with gur or jaggery. The taste of jaggery was subtle, the milk was densed and each grain of rice was well cooked. It was perfectly sweet and delicious.
The food had been a pure joy.
While eating, I had spotted a little young lady in the kitchen, making everything by herself (running the operations.) I asked for her, however, she was out for some chores. I chose to wait, as I couldn’t leave without meeting and congratulating the person who had put it all together, so wonderfully well.
A few minutes later, the sweet spoken owner and chef of Big Bongg Theory, walked in and introduced herself as Anumitra. It was heartening to see the twinkle in her eyes as she talked serving dishes prepared only with seasonal and fresh produce.Also how every ingredient she uses, is handpicked. Even their high tea (with Bengali appetizers) is genuinely an interesting take on a foreign trend and deserves much applause. Meeting Anumitra, reminded me of the the same good vibe and love for food, that I had felt, after meeting Anastasia, the wonderful Greek lady who runs Mykonos, just some blocks away.
Anumitra pointed out, that it would have been easier to run a place out of CR Park, the Bengali quarter of the Capital. However, she wanted to (apply her training in Japanese cuisine and understanding of kitchen operations to) provide an exceptional Bengali gourmet experience in a contemporary set-up. And Big Bongg Theory, by no means is anything but exceptional!