Category Archives: Bengali Curry

From food blogging to Calcutta Street – the journey

 

Hi everyone!

I am so sorry for spending so much time away from my lovely blog that has got me where I am today. I promise to be a regular again (and I mean it this time!). The reason I’ve been so quiet is because I’ve been busy working towards the launch of my restaurant Calcutta Street, which is opening on 18th July at 29 Tottenham Street, London (Just off Goodge street station) and this blog post is to fill you in on the crazy journey its been!

For all of you who have been following this blog from the start in 2010 – MASSIVE HUGS! Seriously, if you hadn’t followed, encouraged, and supported me back then (when I was posting those horrible webcam videos), I probably would have given up.

In December 2014, I decided to go on a soul-searching trip to the USA all by myself. If you have been a follower, then you might have read my post (and you’ll know that it was more eating than soul searching!) and I had a eureka moment; I knew I wanted to start my food popup.

eureka 3

I got back to London and mulled the idea over for a few months before I decided on a name for the popup – Calcutta Street. Magically, I found a lovely restaurant owner; Steve from Zensai who let me use his restaurant to host a popup. That’s when it all really began – 7th March, 2015.

IMG_0976

You can follow the rest of the first year on this very blog through articles and posts about the popups – just scroll down and you can see.

Popups are one thing but opening a restaurant in London is a whole different game – I had always dreamt about it but had thought that it was too far-fetched to achieve.

But that doesn’t mean it was a smooth ride, because each time I even mentioned the idea of starting a restaurant, I would hear the same things a thousand times:

“You are crazy!”

“You are twenty-six, a girl and international on top of that – you will never raise funding.”

“Restaurant is a tricky business, don’t quit your steady job.”

“No one gives funding to single-founder businesses.”

So on and so forth.

But I thought – OK, all that might be true but where’s the harm in trying? I might end up homeless (because I won’t have money to pay rent) but I have friends who will happily lend me their couch to sleep on! I might end up crying every day, but salt water is good for your skin!

So I did it. I decided to quit my job and take the plunge. I wrote a business plan, presented it to people, began the property search, and before I knew it I was fully funded! OK, so I missed out the crying sessions, sleepless nights and surviving on one meal a day bit – but that’s just part of the job!

Next came the tricky part; the fifty-year-old commercial property owners, who firstly refused to believe that I was twenty-six (do I really look like I’m in high school?!), and that I had the money or skills to start a restaurant. Three properties fell through and I eventually found a home in Fitzrovia – my favorite restaurant spot in London. Good things happen those who wait (even if they don’t wait patiently!!).

Finally, after jumping all these hurdles, I managed to gather together a team – project manager, creative director, architect, interior designer, branding guru, menu developer and builders. A bunch of us flew to Calcutta for a research trip for a week, had a blast shopping and soaking in every bit of the wonderful city. The trip also gave me an opportunity to introduce my team to my mum’s delicious home cooking, which after all was the inspiration behind everything!

I’ll spare you the boring parts of legal, structural engineering, building control, property issues, and get right on to the fun stuff, like building the site, writing the menu copy, creating the website, design, identity, recruitment, music development, food development and all sorts of exciting things. All these different elements make it feel like I’m directing a movie, and the premiere is on the 18th July! It’s exciting and stressful, but after all this, can I handle criticism about my baby? All I want is everyone to love it as much as I do, and even though I know that you can’t please everyone, if you guys keep showing the love that you always have, then that would be enough. I promise to keep entertaining you, keep in touch, and not disappoint you – even if that means the occasional silly video!

 

 

 

 

By the way, here is a shameless promotion for our social media. Show us some love!!!

Twitter: @calcuttast

Instagram: @calcuttastreet

Facebook: Calcutta Street

Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express Durga Pujo Jalsha PopUp

Durga Puja or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami and Vijayadashami. Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil.

It is the biggest festival for all Bengali’s and the Bongs (short form of Bengali) look forward to this festival through out the year. I am no exception, even though I have been living away from Calcutta for over 9 years now, each year during this time my heart is in Calcutta, I want to hear the dhaki (Drummer) play the beats or enjoy the dancing, eating, drinking and all other festivities that goes on in the city. You have a few Durga Puja’s in London but they are all very traditional and back home that’s not how I or other youngsters celebrated it, we participated in the religious bits for probably an hour or so but the rest was always about adda session with friends.

With this PopUp I aim to recreate the whole vibe of Pujo in Calcutta – Music, Alcohol, Food, Dressing up, Dhaki’s tal, Rabindrasangeet and a lot more. So if you want to experience this amazing carnival experience from Calcutta come along for the Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express Durga Pujo PopUp at Stage 3 Hackney on 20th October 2015 (Saptami).

Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express
Calcutta Street X Jhalmuri Express
Cocktail Menu
Cocktail Menu

 

Angus Denoon from Jhalmuri Express and I got together during Notting Hill Carnival 2015 and we had a lot of fun so I am expecting just the same this time. Have a look at the photos.

Calcutta Street and The everybody love love jhal muri express presents to you – An evening to celebrate the start of Durga puja with the sensory pleasures of music, food, drinks and each others company in true bengali style in a beautifully decorated space. Durga puja is kolkata’s greatest festival that salutes the victory of good over evil and the authentic and original street food stalls and live music will transport you to the mighty city for the night.

 BOOK TICKETS HERE 

 

Friday evenings with Calcutta Street at Woodlands

I know I have been MIA (yeah I recently discovered this modern day lingo – Missing in action) but that is because a lot has been happening recently. I went back to Calcutta for the first time after I started Calcutta Street, and I thought it would be a nice idea to film a video there to give you a taste of REAL Calcutta. So I headed to The Hope Foundation Cafe in Calcutta and hosted a special PopUp with the girls (who have been rescued by The Hope Foundation and are now independent women) there.

However I have an exciting news to share – Now you can visit my Calcutta Street PopUps every Friday evenings at Woodlands Restaurant, Marylebone. So all those people who missed out on the PopUp’s due to date issues as it was just once a month you have no more excuses  now.

I will be making one exclusive Bengali Dish every Friday evening and you can’t start the weekend without Cocktails so I will be making some of those too 🙂

Here is the Menu:

Calcutta Street x Woodlands
Calcutta Street x Woodlands

Here are some photographs from the first week!

The menu was : Luchi – Alur Dum (Puffed Bread with Slow cooked potatoes with bengali spices) along with special cocktails – Rum Chai, Fresh off the boat and Maharaja Fashioned. You can find the recipe on the video above 🙂

 

 

Calcutta Street in The Telegraph – An emotional press coverage

Press coverages are always special but some of them are a tad bit more special than the rest. Couple of weeks back The Telegraph in India featured a story on Calcutta Street, yes it’s a regular press story but it meant a lot more because of more reasons than one – this is a newspaper that I grew up reading , it is the largest newspaper of Calcutta (my hometown) where my family still resides. When the story was out I was sleeping here in London (it was 4 am) and my whatsapp went bonkers with messages from people who I haven’t even spoken to in years or even decades. All I can say is it was emotional.

You can read the article HERE

This just makes me want to take Calcutta Street even further and work double hard to make this possible.

The next Pop Up –  Saturday, 1st August

Theme – Calcutta Street Summer party with a 3 course meal and artisan beer pairing 

Venue – Pelt Trader

Indian food and craft beer? sounds strange right? But trust me it will be super cool! And what’s better than breaking stereotypes?

Will post more details soon, but before that I shall leave you with a recipe from the menu of my last Pop Up at Southbank.

Doi Aam

Doi Aam
Doi Aam
Ingredients:
Yogurt
Double fresh cream
Condensed milk
Cinnamon (boro eilichi)
Fennel seeds (mouri)
Fresh mango
Method:
Beat the yogurt, fresh cream and condensed milk (1 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup fresh cream and 1/2 cup condensed milk) together till you get s smooth thick creamy mix
Then add the cardamom (sorry not cinnamon) and fennel seeds in it and some additional sugar if you like it very sweet
Cut mangoes into slices and then pour the creamy mixture on top
Freeze it for 30 mins and serve

 

Cheers,

Shrim xoxoxox

Calcutta Street Bollywood Special at South Bank

Shrimoyee Chakraborty, Calcutta Street
Shrimoyee Chakraborty, Calcutta Street

So I have been taking you through my journey from Eatwithmeshrimoyee to Calcutta Street. I have been doing Pop-ups at restaurants for the last few months but this time I decided to take up the challenge of doing a food stall at a festival. It is a great opportunity for marketing your brand and reaching out to a wide range of people but it definitely has a lot of challenges. A lot of people have been asking me about the challenges of having a food stall, the first one would be getting all the licences and certificates including – HACCP, Food and Hygiene licence and certification with the local council. Once you overcome these you can have a food stall but then comes the challenges on the day, in order to maintain quality you need to be extremely organised and be prepared with everything including washing up liquid because you have no guarantee of a proper kitchen with a sink. And finally it’s always tricky to estimate the amount of food you should buy, so my suggestion would be to have clear idea of how much you need to sell to make a profit and just buy that amount otherwise you might just land up with a ton of extra food – no one can guarantee foot fall in a festival.

Mixing Yogurt
Mixing Yogurt

My experience at Bollywood Fever at South bank was great over all as I got fabulous response from the people who came, I also added an element of photobooth which people love at festivals and also brilliant for my branding! The dishes I made were extremely simple – Doi Phuchka, Doi Aam and Churmur. All these dishes except doi aam come from the streets of Calcutta and I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone loved them as much as I do and the Indian’s said it reminded them of home.

Doi Phuchka
Doi Phuchka

Here is the Doi Phuchka recipe for you.

Ingredients (One plate)

  • Pani Puri (6) You can find them at any Indian store, try Bangla Town in Brick Lane.
  • Yogurt (1 cup)
  • Tamarind Sauce
  • Tamarind paste
  • Boiled and mashed Potato (1)
  • Kala Channa (Black Chick peas)
  • Cumin seeds, coriander powder, chilli flakes (1/2 tea spoon each)
  • Lemon Juice (1 Lemon)
  • Chaat Masala (You can find this at any Indian Store too)
  • Bhujiya (It’s similar to a bombay mix)
  • Fresh Coriander and Green chillies

Preparation:

  • Dry fry the cumin seeds, coriander powder and chilli flakes in a pan, don’t use any oil. After about 2-3 minutes you will start getting a beautiful aromatic smell from them and it will turn slightly red. Keep it aside.
  • Beat the yogurt to a fine consistency
  • Mash the potatoes add the dry fried spice mix to it, lemon juice, fresh coriander and chillies,kala channa and a tea spoon of tamarind paste. Then mash it all together.
  • Make holes in the pani puri’s and add the potato mix
  • Then arrange all 6 of them in a plate and add yogurt on top (1/2 spoon for each puri)
  • Then sprinkle the bhujiya and chaat masala on top
  • Finally add the tamarind sauce on top (1/2 tea spoon for each puri)
  • Garnish with corriander and green chillies.

Here are some photos from the event.

Jazz Evening at Calcutta Street – Pop Up at Stage3 Hackney

After the exciting Calcutta Street Sea Food Pop Up at Bonnie Gull (you can click on this link to read the review), I am popping up again at Stage3 Hackney with an evening of live Jazz with a classical Indian touch and a three course Bengali meal. And after popular demand I will be making special Bengali dessert this time. I am also going to start putting out the recipes of the all these dishes very soon here – so watch this space 🙂

Here are the posters and menu for the Pop Up on 4th May – 6pm – 9 pm. The venue Stage3 is part of a heritage theatre and just a 2 minute walk from Hackney central station. You can’t miss it!

Which Poster do you like more? Would love to know your feedback and looking forward to see some of you at Hackney!

Here is the Facebook Page for regular updates.

Book Tickets 

Jazz Evening at Calcutta Street
Jazz Evening at Calcutta Street

 

Jazz Evening at Calcutta Street
Jazz Evening at Calcutta Street

Calcutta Street Second Pop Up at Bonnie Gull, Exmouth Market

It was a bright sunny day on April 11 and London was basking in it’s full blown glory – how could I have a better day to host my second Calcutta Street, Seafood special Pop Up? I would love to thank each and every one who attended it and by the looks of it enjoyed my food. There is nothing more satisfying for me than to watch other people enjoy my food – It makes all the 18 hours of cooking and prep totally worth it.

And a massive Hi5 to all the staff at Bonnie Gull for being absolutely fabulous, efficient and super friendly – Makes a sea of a difference! An a bigger Hi5 to Luke Robinson (Head Chef) and Gavin (Exec Chef) for making the whole process so smooth sailing. Finally I can’t thank Cobra Beer and Lord Billimoria enough for sponsoring the beers, they definitely make the food taste better!

I wanted to share the photographs from the day with all of you (who care to read this blog). Hope to see some more of you at my next Pop Up!

 

 

Photographs by Kheya Chattopadhyay

My next Pop-Up will be a very special one as it has two of my favourite things Calcutta Food and Jazz (with some Indian instruments like sitar). Save the date!

Calcutta Street Jazz Special – 4th May (6 pm – 9 pm) at Stage 3, Hackney! 

More details to follow soon!

Love,

Shrim xx

 

Chicken Stew – Perfect healthy, lazy meal

So, here is a video after a long time, so I decided to make something very simple and healthy.

This is a chicken stew with lots of veggies and some spices to make it a little more interesting and less bland.

Recipe:

Marinade the chicken with ginger, garlic, salt and turmeric while you chop your veggies

Chop onions, tomato, pepper, fresh chillies.

Add oil in a pan and sauté the onions and pepper and add a bay leaf (if you have any, not compulsory)

Then add the marinated chicken and some garam masala and then chopped tomatoes.

Then finally add some curry leaves (if you have, not compulsory) and a lemon juice.

Finally add a cup of water and cover the pan.

Let it cook for about 10 minutes and finally add some butter and fresh coriander to give it the final touch!

 

Let me know if you make it 🙂

Shrim

xx

Kolkata during Durga Pujo – The biggest festival for Bengali’s

The sound of dhak (percussion), loudspeakers on the road playing the latest bollywood numbers, every street lit up with bright lights, people flocking into shopping malls and other markets to get themselves the best outfit to wear for that special time of the year and ofcourse every restaurant/stall/food market coming up with pujo special menu’s — That is Durga Pujo or the biggest Bengali Festival in Kolkata, India.

After 7 long years I finally got to be in Kolkata for this crazy madness and boy I could feel the butterflies and excitement in lower abdomen the minute I made the decision. I decided to absorb every bit of it and dive into the whole craziness and fun right from shopping, eating, pandal hopping, raiding my mum’s wardrobe and wearing all the beautiful saree’s and dancing to the beats of the dhak! I am sharing a few photographs from my trip which could give you a very very faint idea about the festival because you can never know what really is without actually being there!

Biriyani
Biriyani
I try my hand at making some street side chowmein!
I try my hand at making some street side chowmein!
Chole Bature - A veggie delight!
Chole Bature – A veggie delight!
Sugar Cane Juice
Sugar Cane Juice
Malai Kulfi
Malai Kulfi

 

The Street Musicians
The Street Musicians

 

Durga Idol at one of the popular Pandals
Durga Idol at one of the popular Pandals

 

Street of Calcutta during the festivity
Street of Calcutta during the festivity

 

Creative Pandals
Creative Pandals

 

Our Apartment Pandal
Our Apartment Pandal

 

Sharing a cocktail with my Mum
Sharing a cocktail with my Mum

 

My dance performance
My dance performance

 

This is my Saree Pose!
This is my Saree Pose!

 

Dad and Me wearing traditional Indian attire!
Dad and Me wearing traditional Indian attire!

 

These are all the pictures from my trip and the festivity in Kolkata, hope you enjoyed it and let me know your thoughts or if you wanna know anything more! I definitely recommend everyone to visit Calcutta during this time of the year which is usually during September-October .

New recipe to follow soon! Keep reading 🙂

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg-Chicken Roll – Indian Street Food

The recipe is in my last post, so I thought of sharing a new video of this delicious Indian Street food with you guys!

Please try and not notice how clumsy I am (well my whole dress is drenched in food by the end of it) and also check out this awesome man – Ben Herbert who helped me make the video!

Let me know if you like the video and if you do then please share it! 🙂