Friday, June 20, 2014

Preview of the Mango Haat- That's Mango-gasm for you!

"I looked beyond the horizon...
And I climbed up the 'setting rays'...
I followed the paling glint....
And rolled back languidly, but in phase.

I walked up along the courtyard,
And I waded through the obdurate aisle...
I invaded through the wardens,
And explored the relics of the glorious past.

I stood there and wondered...
I shambled and I stumbled...
But the incense stemmed and retreaded....
And it led me to the den of imperial beauty.

There...there...there they huddled,
The grandiose,
And the prodigal manifestation.
The plate of proliferating servings...."

"Where am I?" - I was certainly lost, sinking deep into the rich history of Bengal..the history that is certainly not restricted to pages of the dreaded textbooks but has found it's true manifestation through the luscious gems that it has left behind. And there you go, a fascinating 'look-back' into an era that not only depicted 'prominence' but gifted us some of the best breed of mangoes and it's associated cuisines? - I would take that any day. Mr Pradip Chopra, President of Murshidabad Heritage Development Society (MHDS) and Chairman iLead, through his comprehensive presentation on the "Mangoes of Murshidabad", ensured that the connoisseurs had a first hand feeler of 'royal taste' in true sense of the term. History has always been a fascinating subject, but then the interest level increases manifold when you can draw a synergy between the present and the past- the past that revealed itself on the giant screen and the present, in form of some delightful mango-cuisines, that were 'presented' with 'utmost care'. 

Yes, food, as an entity and a deep research of it's related history does form an alluring combination; and of course, there has to be a conscious attempt to preserve the essence of antiquity...to conserve and to perpetuate. And I guess, I'm not overstating when I say that ITC Hotels (ITC Sonar) deserves a huge round of applause for being the true patrons of taste; their collaboration with the Murshidabad Heritage Development Society and iLead did revive those golden days. I'm totally in sync with Atul Bhalla, General Manager, ITC Sonar who asserts–“In keep with ITC Hotels philosophy of being “rooted to the soil”, we celebrate the unique diversity of flavors through which Murshidabad mangoes delight connoisseurs of the fruit. This is in keeping with our commitment to sustainability and Responsible Luxury.” Being a part of the e-Governance line of business, I could relate to that.

Honestly speaking, you might come across people who love to eat, but then how many of them actually know the 'story that has gone into the dish'? As a part of the core Bengali community, the love for mangoes is almost like a default and now when you get to know, touch and taste those rarest of breeds like the Kohitoor, Ranipasand, Saranga, Bimli, Kalapahar, Ananas, Bira, Molamjam, you know that you are certainly on the right platform. I certainly overheard a co-blogger uttering the term "Mango-gasm" at the mere sighter of the legendary "Kachhe Aam ki Kheer" and the palatable "Kachhe Aam ki Launji"; I would have loved to see her expression when the 'Mango-blended-sushi" was served....a hint of innovation, "mutation" rather.

Oh! Did I mention that given an opportunity, I might just marry a 'Sheherwali' ? Ah never-mind, now you know. Just to give you a small background, the Sheherwali's are the Jain traders from Rajasthan who explored new routes to invade into Bengal and settled in Murshidabad...mixed and mingled with the 'Nawabi' culture of the region to formulate signature cuisines of their own- that's what history says. The zone of my interest, however, is restricted towards their 'love and ecstasy' for mangoes; the way these ladies 'peel off', hold, cut, slice, wash and serve the fruit...it's an art of the highest order. And as Mr Chopra rightly pointed out, "The Sheherwali-s ensured that the art of cutting a mango was blended with care so that no sign of the finger-prints remain on slice and no amount of juice is wasted in the process. That's finesse for you." The focus of the night was certainly on the rare Kohitoor slices, & as you'd realize the name has a striking similarity with the prized 'Kohinoor'..rare and extremely zestful...given a choice between a costly gadget and an year's supply of the Kohitoor, I'd rather choose the later and be the privileged one. It goes without saying that this event has certainly managed to hit the right chords. Thanks to ITC Sonar for organizing such an pleasing meet & treat on a rainy Sunday evening, it certainly set the tone for a perfect week ahead. *Sweet*

"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar Kolkata- Sweetness overdose on the platter...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataLook at the delicious Mango toppings...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataBaked with care, ambrosial is the word.
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataThe very 'innovative' Mango Sushi...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataRich and creamy servings with Mango...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataThe 'Bowls of Mango-driven awesomeness'.
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataThe abundance of mango-based delicacies...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataThat's a bit of 'diversity' for you..
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataThe sacchariferous assortment, so to say.
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar Kolkata- Take a guess; which breed is this?
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar Kolkata- The richly coated sweetness- Mango sushi.
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataDemonstrating the art of Mango cutting..
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar KolkataMr Pradip Chopra takes us on a 'ride'...
"Preview of the Mango Haat" at the ITC Sonar Kolkata- The rarest breeds of mangoes on display
The Exclusive Mango Haat Preview
* I, on behalf of the Kolkata Food Bloggers, would like to thank ITC Sonar for inviting us for the exclusive "Preview of the Mango Haat", that displayed the rarest mangoes from Murshidabad and brought out a pocket booklet on the same. The book contains exhaustive recipes of signature mango cuisines like Kachhe Aam Ka Kheer, Kachhe Aam Chana ka Kutti, Aam ka Panna etc.
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