Tag Archives: London

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, Shrimoyee, Summer Menu

Calcutta Street Summer Party – Pelt Trader

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” –  I agree with Henry James and what is even better is Saturday Summer Afternoon!

We are celebrating 6 months  of Calcutta Street with a Summer Party – 1st August, Saturday 12pm – 4 pm at Pelt Trader craft beer bar in the city. The menu is very Summery and fresh with goodies like Prawns, Lentil soups, Yogurt, Tamarind. It is a 3 course menu with artisan beer pairing with each course. Yes, you heard that right – craft beer pairing with Indian food! Mark from Pelt Trader does know his beer really well and I am excited with the pairings he has done. There will also be live music by the very talented blues and country singer Charlie Walker!

This Pop up is also right after my 26th Birthday (Yes, I have stepped on the wrong side of 20) so you can always drop by to wish me Happy Birthday and try my special dessert – my mum used to make this for me on every birthday of mine. I am making few of my personal favourite dishes like Prawn Malai Curry, Simui Payesh (Kheer), Doi Phuchka, Paneer Posto. I am certain you won’t find most of these dishes in any London restaurant.

Menu:

Starter:

Doi Phuchka, Crispy semolina balls with potato, black chick pea, tamarind and yogurt filling. Very refreshing and Tangy – perfect for a summer snack. 

VP or Vivekananda Park in Calcutta has some of the best Doi Phuchka stalls where most bengali youngsters crowd every evening for the tangy snack with some lebu cha (lemon tea) and a cigarette or some good old grass.

Mains:

Musurir Dal with Gondhoraj Lebu, Boiled red lentils cooked with a slight hint of spice, nigella seeds, fresh green peas, coriander leaves, special scented lemons from bangladesh and a dash of home made ghee – Super heathy and tasty)

Every bengali’s comfort food and a bengali meal is never complete without a serving of Dal and Bhaat. This is the simplest dish ever but very few people get it right.

Chingri macher (Prawn) Malai Curry, Jumbo prawns cooked in a coconut and mustard sauce. 

This is every bengali’s favourite Sunday lunch, no special occasion is complete without this dish. When Rick Stein travelled to Kolkata, he picked this dish as his personal favourite.Prawn is called chingri in bengali.

Paneer Posto, Indian cottage cheese cooked in a nutty, poppy seed paste. This is my own recipe with very bengali ingredients. Contains nuts. 

The most famous poppy seed or posto dish in Calcutta is Aloo Posto, potatoes in poppy seed paste. This is also the favourite dish of Saurav Ganguly the famous Indian cricket team captain who took his shirt off at Lords when India won a match against England and then eventually got suspended. 

All mains served with boiled rice. 

Dessert:

Simui Payesh – Milk pudding with Vermicelli and sugar coated rose petals (served cold)

Since this Pop Up is right after my birthday, I decided to make the dessert which my mum made for me on every birthday of mine. Payesh is a must on birthday’s its meant to be auspicious. 

Drinks:

Mocktail: Aam Pora Shorbot – Smoked Raw mango pulp blended with a spice mix. Perfect cooler on a hot summer day. 

Cocktail: Aam Sura – Aam pora with bacardi. 

We also shot a little video with some of my customers and people who have been associated with Calcutta Street in any way.

BOOK TICKETS

summer_party_lr-01

I am hoping to see some of you on 1st and please do some and say hello!

Shrim

xxxx

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 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

 

Calcutta Street Food Pop Up (Camden)

After a month of running around, stress, promotions and a LOT of cooking finally my first Pop Up was launched at Zensai bar in Camden. I am overjoyed by the response as it was my first pop up and I wasn’t exactly expecting a lot of people to turn up, but to my surprise (an extremely pleasant one) there were more than 80 people. I apologise to all the people who had to wait for a while for the food (I will have more help next time).

Oh I also got some press coverage from The Asian Voice 

Asian Voice – Shrimoyee AV_P15

Asian Voice - Shrimoyee, Calcutta Street Food Pop Up
Asian Voice – Shrimoyee

 

Menu

Calcutta Street
Calcutta Street

I wanted to share some of the photo’s from the event with all of you from the day!

I hope to see some of you at my next one, I shall let you know about the date and time! 🙂

Cheers,

Shrim xx

Calcutta Street – My first Pop Up restaurant

Hello everyone!

After 4 years of blogging, cooking, food reviewing and eating, I have decided to start my own food Pop Up – Calcutta Street – An East Indian Street Food experience. 

Calcutta Street
Calcutta Street

I am cooking along with Asia House resident chef Paul Bloomfield and we are planning to cook up a storm in the kitchen. Steve, the owner and DJ of Zensai will be playing some Bollywood Psyc Funk music – cherry on the cake! So it will be an afternoon of food, drinks and fun!

With this ticket you can have any of the 3 dishes below – The portions are big, I am generous with food 🙂

You can book your tickets here 

Menu:

Food:
Phuchka – the Bengali version of Pani Puri
Bengali Lamb Curry with Potatoes and Luchi (Commonly known as Puri)
Egg Roll – You have seen the video I made?
Pav Bhaji – The Bengali version of the famous Mumbai Street Food
Cocktails:
bollywood martini ( bombay sapphire gin/bols yoghurt liqueur/mango pulp/homemade garam masala syrup/star anais)
tamarind mint julep ( jack daniels/ mint leaves/lime/tamarind pulp/crushed ice/fresh tamarind)
curry leaf and coriander martini ( grey goose vodka/curry leaves/coriander/lillet rose/lime juice)
plantation daquiri ( plantation 5 year old barbados rum/mahini coconut rum,plantation overproof trinidad rum/trois rivieres sugar cane/lime twist/air dried coconut)
It’s my first baby step in starting something bigger so will really appreciate if you come and support me!
Here is a sneak peak of the photo shoot I did, video will follow 🙂
Look forward to see you all on 7th March at Camden!
Cheers,
Shrim

5 Things you need to know about Persian Cuisine!

Saffron1. Saffron – This is an ingredient which I am a big fan of, because it can magically turn a plain boring plate of rice to look royal and majestic. Persian’s love to use saffron in abundance in most of their dishes. So if you intend to make a delicious Persian meal at home, better stock your shelf up with these beautiful strands. Saffron is also used very often in tea or chai in India and Middle east.

 

Persian Rice
Persian Rice

2. Rice – Persian meals are never complete without a plate full (or bowl) of thin grained, saffron infused steaming rice. But this is not the regular rice we boil at home, they make their rice with a lot of love and care. They first boil the rice, drain the excess water and then prepare a pan with oil, saffron and even yoghurt and then add the rice to it and let it steam in extremely low heat for about 40 minutes. Yes m’dear that is how much effort they put behind rice – Phew!

 

Herbs3. Herbs – Just like the Indians and Italians even the Persians love herbs, I mean it’s hard not to. They tend to use a lot of Coriander (My favourite), Parsley, Chive, Fenugreek, Mint and the most special one – Dill. The last one is very unique to this cuisine but you might just find it in one of those exquisite super markets, my bet is whole foods!

 

Spices
Advieh

4. Advieh – It’s not some random ingredient, Persians use this rather exotic term to describe spices. I was impressed with myself when I realised I have most of the spices they use at home. Advieh is extremely similar to Garam Masala, so compositions vary but the basic spices are the same. The most common composition is – Corriander seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Ginger and Turmeric. The other one which is more similar to Garam Masala is – Cumin, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.

 

5. Dried Lime – Fresh lime has a very tangy and refreshing taste to it but dried lime can create magic too. It is used very often in Khoresh, which is a type of casserole dish with meat to balance the smell and taste of meat.

 

 

 

You must be wondering how did I suddenly become an expert in Persian cuisine? Ah I happened to speak to this wonderful lady Jila Dala -Haeri, who just wrote a new cook book called – From a Persian Kitchen

From a Persian Kitchen

She will be talking in details about Iranian and Persian cuisine and her book at Asia House on Friday, 14 November along with some light snacks from a Persian bakery!

You can register for the event here: http://asiahouse.org/events/saffron-dried-lime-jila-dana-haeri/

If you liked this post, then you will LOVE the event, so come along and it will be a lot of fun and you can impress your weekend guests with your newly acquired Persian cooking skills! I’ll be there too, so don’t forget to say hello! 🙂

Here is a special recipe from her book just for my readers 😀

Khoresht

Khoreshts are an essential element of Persian cuisine. The nearest equivalent in the West would be a casserole, a rich dish with plenty of sauce. Khoreshts may be made from meat, chicken or fish combined with vegetables, herbs, fruits or pulses. A khoresht is always served with plain rice (chelo); neither dish is secondary or subservient to the other. Serve a couple of large spoonfuls of rice with one large spoonful of khoresht; eat the rice and khoresht together.

The following recipe is a variation on one of the most popular khoreshes cooked all over Iran.

 

Chicken and aubergine khoresh with cherry tomatoes and sour grapes

The combination of saffron, sour grapes and cherry tomatoes with aubergine adds layers of aroma and flavour to the plain chicken.I used fresh sour grapes but you can also use the pickled unripe grapes available from Middle Eastern or Persian food stores.  I prefer chicken thighs to breast as they are more flavoursome and easier to cook; you can use breast if you prefer.

This dish takes approximately 1 ¼   hour to 1 ½ hour to prepare and cook.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium aubergine

1 medium onion

6 skinless, boned chicken thigh fillets

10 – 12 cherry tomatoes

250 g chopped canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 table spoon tomato puree

3 table spoon lemon juice

3 table spoon sour grapes

2 table spoon liquid saffron

500 ml chicken stock

3 table spoon vegetable oil ( plus extra amount,  enough  for frying the aubergines)

 Preparation and cooking

Peel the aubergines and cut each lengthwise to three slices. Wash and put them in a colander, sprinkle I teaspoon salt and leave them to stand for about 15 minutes.

Peel and finely chop the onion. Wash the chicken high fillets and trim any extra fat. Wash and dry the cherry tomatoes.

Cooking

In a medium size heavy based sauce pan heat 3 table spoon of vegetable oil and fry the onions until golden. Add ½ a teaspoon of turmeric, stir and then add the chicken fillets, salt, pepper and the rest of turmeric. Stir well and fry for about 8-10 minutes, until the chicken pieces are golden and sealed. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and the stock, stir well, bring to boil and then reduce the heat. Cover the pan and simmer for 40 – 45 minutes.

The sauce should be reduced by now to half.

While the chicken is cooking, fry the aubergines. In a frying pan, preferably non-stick, heat 50 ml vegetable oil and fry the aubergine slices until golden. Aubergine absorbs a lot of oil, so add more if necessary. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and pat dry on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.

In the same frying pan, fry the cherry tomatoes in a table spoon of oil for a couple of minute. Remove from heat. Return the aubergine slices to the frying pan, sprinkle1 table spoon of liquid saffron and a table spoon of lemon juice over the aubergine slices and cherry tomatoes and set aside.

When the chicken is cooked, carefully arrange the aubergine slices and then the cherry tomatoes in the sauce pan on top of the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, add the sour grapes, the rest of the saffron and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer very gently for about 10 15 minutes. Make sure that the sauce mix is not boiling vigorously because the aubergine and tomatoes will disintegrate.

Serve in a shallow bowl, carefully arranging the aubergine and cherry tomatoes on top of the chicken pieces.

 

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