The typical “Ghoti” bong I am by birth but I do cherish every bit of the Ilish Maach. In fact, I always have been partial towards Hilsa over Jumbo Prawn. Ilish can tempt me to change my routine even if served just the way I like it. Talking about a change of plan, I do take a leave once in two months mandatorily to pamper myself. Much different from a typical day of mine, the planned Me-days are mean for a romantic novel, spending time with Pasta and Mehebub. But yes exceptions are there, always there. When I got an invitation for the Ilish Festival by Taj Bengal, Kolkata on the Me-day, I was in dilemma but yes my lust (for Ilish Maach) won the game!
I always enjoy being at Taj Bengal for a weird reason and especially at Sonargaon! I first visited the place years back with my father. 17 years back, I scored beyond expectation in 10th board to the family’s surprise. Dad decided to took me to Sonargaon to treat me with the lavishness of five stars. Back then, when we have limited five-star properties in Kolkata, and hardly a single visit a year and sometimes not even that, those treats used to be special. I still remember being there with my father for the first time! I have been to Taj several times after that (in fact at several properties by them) but the first time visit was something I cherish till date.
Back then, at my ancestral house, we hardly used to have Ilish more than 2 times during the season. However, there was no compromise on quality. Once or twice but the Ilish had to be big. Khoka Ilish was a strict no there at my place and till date I haven’t seen my father purchasing small sized Ilish.
However, Let me now come back to the present, to the Hilsa and yes to the Adda over fish there at Taj Bengal, Kolkata. It was the perfect bunch of people, everybody with their Ilish fascination and the Ilish we had there was indeed the perfect “Jugalbandi”. By the way, do you know that Hudson reaver sources Ilish Mach, in fact, good quality Hilsa in USA! The guest of honor, Kalyan Roy shared several Hilsa stories including this. He was there for the promotion of his recent movie Meghnadhbod Rahashya.
Our lunch was more flavorful thanks to the blissful chat started with the Akher Rosh (sugarcane Juice). Starting from Hudson’s Ilish to the Ilish Macher Tel Jhol, the topics were diverse while we started the feast with “Ilish Macher Tel“. I always cherish my one spoonful of rice with the Ilish Macher Tel (the remaining Oil after frying Hilsa!). Macher Tel was not something I was expecting Taj to serve, so comforting, so homely! Next item was nothing but the Ilisher Dim er Bora ( Hilsa Roe fritters), another typical bong delicacy.
The entire spread was so very full of big chunks of Ilish Maach and why not when they don’t use the Ilish Maach below 1.5 kgs at Sonargaon, Taj Bengal. This is what Chef Sonu Koithara informed us and we realized when we had each and every item over there. Typical mix cut ( Gada+ Peti) was the proof! There you have the option to choose either the Ilish thali or you can opt for the Ala Carte spread.
Though Moong Dal and chorchori were there and the Daal actually was good but I decided to concentrate on the show stopper, Ilish. I cherished the “Ilish Mach Bhaja” for sure but I found the “Ilish Paturi” at the level of perfection. I had half portion of a chunk from the Ilish Macher Tel Jhol and a spoonful of Ilish Biryani. Though the menu is truly bong but the only continental item was more than good, Smoked Hilsa. It was the second best after the Ilish Macher Paturi for me. The typical bong I am, after that much of food, I had tasted the Misti as well. The Shondesh and Doi, in fact, were worth trying.
Pocket pinch and more about the Hilsa Festival by Taj Bengal, Kolkata:
Coming to the entire meal, it was the perfect combination of quality and quantity and yes I am planning to give it one more try before the Hilasa Festival ends on 31st August, 17. Here are a few details, that may help you!
- Where: Sonargaon, Taj Bengal, Kolkata
- What: Ilish Festival
- When: Till 31 August, 17
- Pocket Pinch: 2400++ for the Ilish Thali and around 2000++ per pax for the Ala carte.