Blue Poppy @ City of Joy

(Itiriti: I invited Madhurilata to write about Blue Poppy, one of my latest hanging out places in City of Joy.   Madhurilata Basu  is a student of Political Science and is an independent researcher. She loves to travel and enjoys her food.  She takes you on a guided tour into the indoors of Blue Poppy.)

What is the shortest way to someone’s heart? While you keep on guessing, I would give my answer. It is always good food. But in today’s world good food comes with a big price and it becomes a rare occasion, when one can experience the unadulterated joy of having good food at a good price. But courtesy Blue Poppy, the exception has been changed into the norm. Embracing students, young professionals with their wide range of dishes and reasonably priced menu, it is located in Sikkim House in Middleton Street, near Loretto College and Gorkha Bhavan in Salt Lake, near City Centre I.  Young Calcuttans are lucky to have a place which serves Nepali, Bhutanese, Tibetan, Indian and Chinese cuisines under one roof and that too at a great price.

You can start off your gastronomical journey with Momos and if you are health conscious , you can also opt for the wide range of soups they offer. You can safely order Mixed Thenthuk or Mixed Phaktu. These Tibetan delights are homemade noodles served in a hot mixed soup.  However, my personal favourite is Pork Kothay , which is half steamed and half fried Momos. Do not forget to ask them for their famous chilly chutney, which should only be tried by the brave hearts for it is a sure killer. Instead of treading in one direction, my suggestion will be to have a mixed menu. A must have dish is Ema Dasi, that is cheese with chilly, and you can have it with steamed rice. This Bhutanese dish can be followed up with Pork Shapta (a Tibetan dish) or Pork with vegetables. The Nepali Thali is also worth trying.

One thing that is guaranteed is that Blue Poppy will definitely bring a smile to your face. A not-so-posh eating house but packed with young people is sure to make you smile. Blue Poppy opens at 8 am  and also serve breakfast like Egg and Toast or Puri Bhaji, for the boarders at both the Sikkim House and Gorkha Bhavan have breakfast there. Another good news is that owing to its popularity, it has started home delivery services in Salt lake only. However, in order to have the good food in your home, you have to wait till 5 pm.

College students flock the Blue Poppy in Middleton Street in great numbers. Owing to its proximity to City Centre I, where youngsters, in the absence of proper adda places in the region, have addas, for obvious reasons come to Blue Poppy to satisfy their hunger if they have extra cash in their pockets. The staff of Blue Poppy are friendly and their service is satisfactory. Do not be amazed if you find a long line outside. Just be patient, for it takes really less time for the good food to get over and before you can count till ten, it will be your turn to grab a table.  A meal for two can cost at around Rs 400. However, Blue Poppy’s food tastes best, provided you have a good company. Non-stop adda over the food is of course, free.

For menu of Blue Poppy

http://www.zomato.com/kolkata/the-blue-poppy-russel-street/menu; Accessed on 14 February 2013

©itiriti

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Tasting cultures along the Indian coastline

K and I on our way back from a play on a bright Saturday afternoon stumbled into a bookshop. As soon as I entered the bookshop I quietly escaped into the travelogue section and started flipping through the pages of “Following Fish”. True to the title, the author Samanth Subramanian follows the fish across the Indian coast and takes you on a tour from Bengal to Gujarat.  Each chapter is devoted to the ways in which fish is much more about gastronomic delight. While it is as much about taste of fish, it is also about tasting cultures. This is why I would recommend this book to every readers of this blog. You don’t have to eat fish to love this book; you have to be curious about tasting cultures that dot the Indian coastline to enjoy this book.

The trail of fish begins with Bengal – and its most prized fish – Hilsa with a subtle indication of how this fish is much more than food. It is also about identity of East Bengal and West Bengal. Samanth Subramanian takes us through a whirlwind tour of the various fish markets of Kolkata before stopping and stumbling on the Ganga Hilsa. The author’s self reflexive account makes the book an interesting read. This is particularly so in the second chapter that documents the Bathini Goud’s festivities on thrusting live fish with secret medicine – a treatment for asthma that has become part of the state calendar in Hyderabad as it attracts thousands of people who come for this treatment.The chapter documents the medical treatment that is offered to thousands for free amidst belief and scepticism.  Each of the chapter seamlessly weaves in local history, politics into the making and survival of cuisine. Samanth Subramaniam takes us through the world of Tuticorn to discuss in detail the history of conversion, the tension between the church and chieftain to tell us how Tuticorn, despite being the strong Portuguese stronghold  retained their distinct cuisine.  The gem dish of the region is Fish Podi- dried fish powder which is eaten with rice and dollops of ghee. The spicy trail of fish has just begin as  the author takes us through the  Kerala’s toddy shops and their treatment of fish and I already have my eyes set on the Alleppey shop mentioned in the book in my next visit to Kerala, followed by the stunning revelation of the President of the Managlore Fishermen’s Cooperative,  Secretary of National Fish Workers Federation and of the Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee that he does not eat fish as the author is treated to the Mangalore fish curry in his house. The author then winds off his fishing trail through his accounts on angling, and his accounts of fishermen in Goa who has taken to other professions because of depleting fishes in Goa’s coastline due to overfishing. The author then takes us to the hustle bustle of the Sassoon Dock in Bombay with his guide Yeshi followed by a stopover at the shrine of Mumbadevi Temple in Zaveri Bazaar to a nice hot meal of fish curry at Anantashram ( one of the remaining khanawals) , a peep into the culinary affair in a Koli household and finally taking us through the markers of Gomanatak and Malvani cuisine. The final chapter stops with the crafting of fishing boats in Gujarat- which supplies much of the fish that finds its way to fish markets across India and in our kitchens and is also renowned for crafting fishing boats.

The book manages to unravel the history, geography of “fish” beyond its gastronomic qualities which makes it an interesting read.

Book Review: Subramaniam, Samanth. 2010. Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast. New Delhi: Penguin Books.

©itiriti