With a large Bengali population in all the towns in Assam and other parts of the northeast, there is hardly any dearth of Bengali food in the region. Most of the towns in Assam and other states in the region have several restaurants of different sizes and scales serving Bengali cuisine.
Dhakai Bengali cuisine, the quintessential recipes of East Bengal, now Bangladesh, was, however, missing for decades till Kasturi restaurant opened its first outlet in Assam to tickle the taste buds of food connoisseurs in this part of the country.
Located on the fourth floor of Boraj Arcade near the Lachit Nagar area in Guwahati, Kasturi has been offering a good ambience and authentic Dhakai Bengali cuisine.
“I am a foodie and love to travel. I was in sales before starting this restaurant and my job required me to travel frequently. While touring, I realized that Bengali cuisine has a wide acceptability in this part of the country. For example, people from Assam or any other part in the northeast would any time prefer a restaurant serving Bengali cuisine to one serving Punjabi or other north Indian preparations,” Prasanta Goswami, co-owner of the Kasturi, said.
“There are restaurants serving Bengali cuisine in northeast but most of them are influenced by West Bengal recipes. The cuisine of East Bengal is nowhere to be found. As I was thinking of doing something in this regard, I found Kasturi in Kolkata that serves the Dhakai Bengali cuisines and there was no turning back. Soon we entered into an agreement with Kasturi and here it is,” said Goswami.
Kasturi originated in Dacca (now Dhaka) about seven decades ago and serves authentic Dhakai Bengali cuisine in India (Kolkata) and in some other parts of the globe too.
“While the owners run the four chains in Kolkata ours is the only outsourced outlet of Kasturi. We have the exclusive franchise rights for the entire northeast ,” said Goswami, who opened the Kasturi in Guwahati last year.
“Our USP is the Dhakai Bengali cuisines and we take care so that the taste and aroma are maintained. Kasturi in Kolkata provides us a cook and a helper, who is here round the year. All the fish and spices are supplied to us by the central unit of Kasturi,” said Goswami.
“Spices play the vital part in any cuisine. The system of supplying uniform spices and fish has been followed to maintain a uniform taste in all outlets. The cooks are trained at Kolkata and they know perfectly what amount spice to put in a particular recipe,” he added.
The menu has almost all the authentic Dhakai Bengali cuisine of fish, chicken and mutton, besides vegetarian options served round the year. Apart from this, Kasturi also serves daily specials – which mostly include seasonal fish and vegetables available in Assam.
While the signature dish of the restaurant is kochu patta chingri bhapa (steamed prawns with yam), the menu also has mouth watering dishes like kaski fish chachori, mocha chingri ghonto, bhetki paturi, bhetki bhapa, hilsa curry with mustard, bhapa hilsa, jumbo chitan peti, pabda bori, bagun Jhal, chital muthia and many others.
“As the fish is procured centrally in Kolkata, the quality and availability are ensured round the year. We serve premier fish like hilsa, chital, kaski and pabda round the year,” Goswami said.
Although fish is Kasturi’s main attraction, it also serves dishes like Dhakai murg pulao, chicken Dhakai bhuna, chicken kosha and chicken dak bunglow, Goswami said, adding that mutton dak bunglow is another dish often appreciated by foodies here.
Goswami said that they serve three types of thalis: maharaja, maxi and mini.
The maharaja thali includes luchi and alu dum, sona mug dal, jhuri alu bhaja, kuchupata chingri bhapa, ruhi kalia, prawn malaicurry, basanti pulao, two pieces of chicken or mutton, one hot gulab jamun, misthi doi and cutney. The maxi thali has all these items minus the ruhi kalia, prawn malaicurry and misthi doi. While the maharaja thali costs Rs.950, the maxi one comes for Rs.550.
“We also have mini thali that includes rice, sona mug dal, jhuri alu bhaja, vegetable of the day, one ruhi kalia or two pieces of chicken, one hot gulab jamun and chutney – costing Rs.380 per Thali,” Goswami said.