One little corner of Connaught Place used to be a great favourite of mine. There was a wonderful Greek restaurant there (more than 15 years ago), and I still fondly remember its dolmas. Then that shut, but to my utter joy, a restaurant came up in its place which had a wide spectrum of food from the states, including from the northeast. But all good things come to an end, so that restaurant — called Mosaic — shut, too.
Did I say all good things come to an end? Not always. After many ups and downs, and several restaurants here and there, the deft hand behind Mosaic is now wielding the spatula again. My friend Sohail had alerted me to the fact that a new outfit called Culinary Connections by Utpala Mukherjee (Ph: 9811157989 and 9350155045) was delivering food. I had a look at the menu and found some of my old favourites there. So, I promptly called up and placed a modest order.
A very happy meal later, I had a chat with the chef. An Assamese, she grew up in Shillong, learnt how to cook from her mother and then started her culinary improvisations. She ran Mosaic, the YWCA Kitchen, and the restaurant in Assam Bhavan for a while. After the lockdown, she decided to start a delivery service.
The menu has a nice variety, with some choice dishes under Western, Bengali, and Northeastern Sections. Every week, it has something special to offer. This week it is daab chingri (prawns cooked in coconut milk, ₹700), pork sorpotel (₹375), and thor (a dish of tender banana stem, ₹300).
We asked for a full roast chicken with onion sauce, mashed potatoes, and glazed vegetables (half, Rs 325; full, Rs 450), shepherd’s pie (₹400), dhokar dalna (₹175), muttar puri with alur dum (₹150), and patishapta (₹150). We got a discount, and the bill (with delivery charges) came to ₹1,225.
I enjoyed the roast, which came with a delicious sauce. The chicken was neither too dry, nor underdone, and the dripping from the roast had been cooked with onions and some secret ingredients, Mukherjee says. It didn’t come with mashed potatoes but whole, browned potatoes, which went superbly with the roast that was perfect.
The shepherd’s pie was excellent, too — though somewhat different from the way I cook it. It had bits of chopped carrots in it (the traditional recipe does have carrots) and the flavour of the Worcestershire sauce was strong.
Among Bengali dishes, dhokar dalna is one of my favourites. It is a dish of steamed lentil cakes in a tomato-onion gravy. I had some of that with the muttar puris (each plate had four puris) and the aloo — which was a delicious dish of potatoes, boiled and fried, and then cooked with ginger, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and spices.
The patishapta disappointed me. It was much too small, I thought, and could have done with a thicker filling of kheer.
I would have liked some pork, but I’d OD-ed on the meat the week before, so stayed away from my favourite northeastern dish of pork cooked with black sesame paste (₹250) and roast pork with cream spinach and mashed potatoes (₹325).
The Western section also includes roast lamb with mint sauce (₹400), fish and chips (₹385), vegetable crepes in cheese sauce (₹250) and vegetable au gratin (₹250). Also on the menu are machher paturi (grilled mustard fish: ₹300) and chicken rezala (₹235). Our friends, the Farooquis, ordered the rezala, and said it was umda (outstanding).
The food is umda, indeed.
The writer is a seasoned food critic