After their bohri weekend last October, enjoy aloo gnocchi and grandma’s shepherd’s pie featuring mince and masala, at Ashvita Bistro
Ashvin Rajagopalan is on to something. The brain behind Ashvita Bistro brought down Munaf Kapadia and his mother from Mumbai barely three months ago and Chennai lapped up every last morsel of bohri food they had to offer. Now, he’s invited Auroni Mookerjee, a Mumbai copywriter and homegrown chef, who has dared to put a modern spin on Bengali food in his city. What started as a special Bengali dabba service once a week soon turned into a series of pop up restaurants that reimagined Bengali classics under the moniker Grandma Mookerjee’s Kitchen. We’re talking kosha mangsho (or mutton curry) tacos, jhinge aloo posto where the aloo are turned into gnocchi and even a mishti doi frozen yoghurt.
Ingredient is key
“My food has been compared to the fusion Bengali fare at Bohemian in Kolkata,” says Mookerjee, whose mother, a former food critic, introduced him to the choicest cuisines at her assignments, when he was just four. “But there’s a lot of difference,” he quickly adds, pointing out that while the popular restaurant uses gourmet ingredients, he sticks to Bengali produce. “My ghee is a locally produced dark ghee from Kolkata that caramelises nicely. I make risotto with gobindo bhog rice that’s also from Kolkata. It is a short grain rice that’s known for its aroma, just like the gondhoraj lebu (lime) that is also from Kolkata and is one of the most fragrant lemons available,” he states his case.
New for Chennai
Interestingly, Mookerjee, who plans to take Grandma Mookerjee’s Kitchen to other cities like Bengaluru, is sceptical (read scared) to introduce his brand of experimental Bengali fare back at home. “I don’t know if it will be accepted, because even I only want to have traditional food when I go to Kolkata,” he says about his hometown. But at Ashvita Bistro, Mookerjee is pulling all the stops and even coming up with new dishes for the three-day showcase. “There’s shepherd’s pie where the mince is cooked with garam masala and ghee, and cannelonis made from pointed gourd stuffed with Bengali paneer,” he tells us. Enough said. I’ll focus on booking my table now.
From January 29-31. Lunch and dinner at Rs 799 plus tax for vegetarians and Rs 999 plus tax for non vegetarians. Details: 9791088189
— Ryan Peppin