City of Joy
A week-long craving for Kosha Mangsho and discovering City Of Joy in Delhi.
Have you seen The Namesake? If you have, do you remember when Tabu’s character takes out spices, peanuts and rice puffs to make her version of Jhal Muri on her first day in America? Well, I am not a Bengali living in America, but that’s how much I crave for Bhetki Paturi and Kosha Mangsho, sitting here in Delhi.
It was after dinner, that I had logged onto Twitter and found, acclaimed Food Historian Dr. Pushpesh Pant’s tweets about some Bengali Fiesta he had just relished. I went nuts, retweeting his tweets. I couldn’t help but salivate, looking at his pictures of Kosha Mangsho, Shukto, Rezala and Poshto. No wonder, I soon found myself at Madly Baangali in CR Park, only to be tortured with the worst Kosha Magsho I have ever had. It used to be a good place once, with some delicious food. However, during my last visit, I found it to be hugely disappointing, as both the place and service, have deteriorated to a deplorable state. The manager was not only rude but couldn’t care at all about the food being so sub standard. Rarely do I feel such strong dislike for any place or staff, but this was actually heartbreaking.
Anyway, within a few days, my friend Tanya Gupta, masterbaker at WhiskAWish, strongly recommended City of Joy. So I took my bag, dared the Delhi sun and landed at City of Joy. As soon as I entered I was so happy to find pictures of Uttam Kumar and Satyajit Ray, ceiling lamps from Shantiniketan and most notably, the aroma of mustard oil. The atmosphere was such that I was instantly put at ease.
Without much ado, I ordered for Aloo Bhaja (potato fritters), Rice, Masoor Daal, Kosha Magsho, Luchi and Bhetki Paturi Bhapa. While I waited for my food, I taught Gurjas how to speak in Bangla with my broken Bangla speaking skills. He obviously made fun of me and told me that I might get corrected by people around us. As we laughed, over the loud ongoing chatter in the restaurant, the food was served and we were ready to dig in.
Cooked in mustard oil, the Kosha Mangsho had deep dark coloured thick gravy with perfect tender mutton pieces, just the way it should be. I was completely smitten by its divine flavour. Perfectly paired with Luchi, I really went for the kill, till I had licked the bowl clean! Legend has it, that Kosha Mangsho is prepared on Jamai Shashti, owing to its rich status in the Bengali cuisine, as it demands patience and precision. A fine paste of Onions, Garlic and Ginger is cooked along with Mutton till the meat is tender and well infused with spices and the dish has acquired a deep colour because of caramelized sugar. The sugar also lends a distinct and delicious flavour to the curry. Though, potatoes are also added to the curry to lend in starch, some people prefer to remove them before serving.
Bhetki Paturi Bhapa, made with a fish called bhetki (Barramundi), is wrapped in mustard paste, green chili paste, turmeric, salt, black mustard seeds, lemon juice, coconut paste and salt. Steamed to perfection, this boneless fish preparation is my absolute favourite. I remember the first time when I had Paturi Bhetki, how crazy I had gone. The kick from mustard felt so delicious and addictive. I can’t express the delight I felt with each bite of this dish, had along with rice.
I decided to eat with my hands, taking wholesome bites of Daal, Rice and Aloo Bhaja, while reminiscing the good old days when I would treat myself with this spread at Bhojohori Manna in Kolkata. Of course finishing it of by licking my fingers at the end of the meal.
While I was studying in Kolkata, more often than not, I would be told that I would miss this food once I move to another city. I never realised then, that this would actually be true. This tremendous craving lasted for a whole week till Gurjas drove me to City of Joy. And thank god he did!
In a nutshell:
Location: Located on the first floor, right above Punjab National Bank’s ATM. Aravali Shopping Complex , Alaknanda, New Delhi, 110019
Atmosphere: Depicting a true sense of Bengali culture, the place is lit up with beautiful terracotta lamps, pictures of Kolkata from the colonial times and renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray. And of course, the smell of mustard oil.
Service: Efficient, however, on a busy day, the food takes time to be served.
Food: One of the best places to have Bengali food in Delhi. Mutton Rezala or a humble Aam Daal, this place has a wide variety on offer.
Must Haves: Kosha Mansho, Mutton Rezala, Paturi Bhetki, Mochar Chop – Kasundi, Luchi