Bengalis are known for two things, one is their enthusiasm for travel and the other is their undying love for food. They love their fish, be it steamed, fried, or grilled; no meal is complete without fish in it. Bengali dishes require little oil, which is good when it comes to the health-conscious. With Durga Puja around the corner, it’s time to make plans about where to shop and most importantly what to eat and where to do so.
O Maa Go
Ishpreet Singh Anand knows his food well. A Punjabi by birth whose family has lived in Assam for over fifty years, he started this restaurant for his Bengali wife. The artwork here is a mix of alpanas and Jamini Roy inspired paintings, with popular Bengali numbers playing in the background. A lot of the ingredients are sourced from Kolkata along with their famed Nolen Gur. They plan to introduce a special menu for Durga Puja. All the spices used in their signature dish, Kosha Mangsho is ground using the traditional pestle and mortar. Medium-spicy and just the right amount of chewy with liberal amounts of garam masala, this is a must-try. Bengalis are known for their sweet-tooth and the Nolen Gurer ice-cream flavoured with cashew nut, coconut, and kaju is the perfect dish to round up your meal.
Meal for two: Rs 500 (approx)
Address: FFort building, Borthakur Mill Road, Ulubari, Guwahati.
Open and airy with minimalistic décor, Kasturi is another Bengali restaurant where you can go out with your entire extended family. Started by partners Prasanta Goswami and Bornali Dutta in 2014, they call it the forty plus restaurant because the crowds are mostly of that age. It also won the prestigious Times Food Award for three consecutive years and specializes in Dhakai cuisine. The crowd-favourite is Kochu Patar Chingri (Prawns in Colocassia) which is a rich combination of mustard oil, Colocassia and roasted cumin. Another dish which you should try is Kachki fish, which is tiny in size. It is a crisply fried dish with fish, tomato, capsicum, onion and other ingredients.
Meal for two: Rs 500 (approx)
Address: Boraj arcade, 3rd floor, opposite Hanuman temple, Ulubari, Guwahati.
Bengalis have perfected the art of preparing finger-licking fish dishes, and though Guwahati has many high-end and mid-range restaurants to cater to fish-lovers, Crackling Mustard is one of the very first Bengali restaurants that opened here. The owner, Utpal Goswami wanted to open a reasonable family restaurant where you can go and grab some good food. This place has an old-world charm with old type-writers, earthen pots, a big grandfather clock and old lanterns placed around the restaurant. They ensure that the ingredients are fresh and of good quality. One of the dishes that the owner recommends is Bhetki Fish stuffed with mustard paste. It is medium spicy with a subtle mustard flavour. Another dish that you should try if you are a fish enthusiast is the stuffed IIlish (whole fish stuffed). Do give their special chicken a try, which is cooked with cashew nuts and raisins and other ingredients. The chicken pieces are juicy and are just the right amount of spicy.
Meal for two: Rs 350 (approx)
Address: 1st Floor, 318, Crystal Grave (Near Bhabendra Alay), Survey, Beltola, Guwahati.
The first thing that captures your attention is the name itself ‘Maach’. An all-fish restaurant is an interesting concept and quite possibly the only one in Guwahati and the entire Northeast. From grilled fish to baked fish to fish biryani to fish parantha, they have every conceivable fish item. A past engineering student, owner Avinandan Borah along with his partner Dr P K Sarma thought of doing something different with their love of fish. They wanted to open a place where people can taste unique fish recipes instead of the usual masor tenga or iilish bhapa.
The décor reminds you of the sea with around twelve aquariums fitted along the walls. What is different about this place is that it has little pools where you can catch fish and have it cooked for you. Apart from serving fishes, they also sell various fishes like tiger prawns, squids, crabs, mackerels, tuna, pomfrets, sardines and the like. One must-try dish is the newly introduced Tuna Papad Roll, sea fish wrapped in a crispy papad roll is sure to tickle your taste buds. Another preferred dish is the steamed fish momos or the tandoor momos. So the next time you want to sample a fish item, be sure to check it out.
Meal for two: Rs 600 (approx)
Address: M-02, Orion Place, Opposite Old Post Office, Christian Basti, Guwahati.
By Payel Bhattacharjee