Salt – An insight into Bohri Cuisine in the city of Joy!
Intro & Location:
Salt had been on my wishlist for a long time. I wanted to visit this and somehow got a chance to hold a bloggers meet here as well (I did dine in before too). It is currently the only restaurant in Kolkata which is serving Bohri Cuisine and Bohri Thaal. I had been privileged to visit this with other fellow foodie bloggers and to eat in the exact same way the ‘Thaal’ is eaten. When we first entered Salt, i was quite mesmerised with the decor. The purdah style Thaal eating area and the usual dine-in with bright lights and white/green decor mesmerized my eyes. There is a lot about Salt and lot about Bohri Cuisine which i will be stating down below. The first question which hits the mind is what is a Bohra Community? In simpler terms, they are Gujarati Muslims and are said to have migrated from Yemen to Gujarat. They believe in the concept that ‘The family that eats together stays together’ (I too believe it is right). Second thing which comes in the mind is ‘What is a Thaal’? In simpler terms, it is a large flat plate where the meal is served.
Bohri Thaal is not just the usual large plate where a large number of food items is served and everyone eats together and finish (khatam), end of the story. It is an experience to revere. Just right before our eyes, there was something called the Chelamchi Lota. It is a kind of Basin and a Jug. The jug is first used to wash off dirt from our hands before we sit to dine in for the meal. If you see closely in the image, the basin is just kept below the jug. The plate kind of structure has got pores in it which allows the dirt water to accumulate (that acts as a basin). The Chelamchi Lota was kept inside a Tarakti (the outside stand). Now, what is tarakti? Tarakti is the holder of the thaal. It is used to elevate the thaal.
The Bohri Cuisine itself begins with a pinch of salt to taste. That’s probably the reason i think why the restaurant have come up with the name called ‘SALT’. The meal starts with salt and ends with salt. Salt helps in curing different kinds of diseases and that is why the tasting salt is considered as a must before and after dine in of Thaal.
Yeah, an important thing, one must not use the left hand while eating the Thaal. It is considered as a Taboo.
After the Salt thing ends, one starts with the Mithaas (In Bohra Language – Sweet Dish) and then continues simultaneously with Kharas (Savoury Dish – Refers to dishes which are salty or spicy rather than sweet). So it goes like Salt! Mithaas!Kharaas!Mithas!Kharaas!…Salt!
Anyways, a lot have been said about the cuisine but where is this beautifully curated, bohri style serving located?!! To those of who don’t know where Pool Academy is, The lane adjacent to Fillers, Vivekananda Park(not the main road but the one entering the area) enter that and keep walking straight until you see Pool Academy on the left at the end of the lane. It is located diagonally opposite to Pool Academy. I will be sharing this blog with two experiences which i had here. Albeit, i enjoyed the latter more because of the traditional style but overall, both times, the food was great.
After gazing at the Ambiance, we decided to sit and try each dishes which were being served to us in our table.
What we tried:
We tried a hell lot of things before we finally decided to give our stomach some rest. We start with the traditional pinch of salt and thereafter, we ate a couple of dishes out from the Thaal which are even available on the usual A la Carte. The Thaal served at Salt Restaurant minimum requires 5 people to serve. (Price is approximately 500 which is subject to change due to macroeconomic factors such as inflation, etc.). Along with Bohri Cuisine, they even have kept few Mughlai dishes so that people who love Mughlai can taste it here as well. The food items which i tried here are:-
○ Pineapple Blossom – The blossom tasted great. It was not way to sweet which is usually the case in certain restaurants. I really enjoyed it.
○ Strawberry Blossom – The same goes for the strawberry blossom. The flavor was subtle and enjoyable.
○ Lemonade – The usual lemonade but was fizzy and tasted great.
○ Murgh Salli Kebab – The kebabs were kept marinated for long. It was absolutely succulent inside and a little crispy on the outside. I really loved it. I am surely coming back for more. It was presented with skewers.
○ Egyptian Mutton Curry – I am not a mutton lover but this one did crave me for more. The mutton was absolutely succulent and was melting in the mouth. The gravy was creamy. It was presented with boiled eggs on top.
○ Stuffed Chicken with Rice and Dry Fruits – Oh God! This is something which i will surely be coming for. It won my heart. The chicken was absolutely tender and was falling off the bone. The marination was kept for long which made it so succulent. I wanted to try something like this and now i know, i am at the right place. It was beautifully presented as well. Totally fell in love with this one. #musttry
○ Mutton Nihari – The Mutton Nihari was just fine to me. However, the mutton was quite soft.
○ Dal and Mutton Samosa – Both were equally good. It is not like the regular samosa. It is very different and albeit me not being a samosa lover, enjoyed it.
○ Dal Chawal Palidu Chicken – It was Arhar Dal, Chicken pieces and layers of rice. It was so subtle and was sprinkled with fried onions on the top. I totally relished the rice. I added a bit of dal to it. It did not make me feel as if it is dry. Loved it. It was not like the usual rice and not like the biriyani. All i can say is that it was something different and tasted great. It is an integral part of the cuisine.
○ Mutton Haleem and Laccha Paratha – It was topped with fried onion. It was rich and greasy. I loved the preparation. I could not get Laccha paratha but i ate a lot so no complaints.
○ Kachumber and Onion Salad – We had this as accompaniments. They tasted fine to me like usual salad.
○ Chicken Biriyani – The biriyani was tried on my first visit. The rice was subtle and the aloo was perfectly cooked. The chicken was well marinated but could have been more tender. Overall, i enjoyed it. It was first presented with white rice on top. My mind wondered is the bohri cuisine having only white rice? Then, just as i used my spoon to dig in, i noticed the aromatic Biriyani inside. It was served with sliced onions. The oil in the biriyani was quite less which i prefer. #nomnomnom
○ Shir Kurma – The Shir Kurma is a delight. Don’t miss on this one for sure. I am really in love with it and surely going another time for it. It just melted in the mouth. It was heaven.
○ Date Palm Halwa – The date palm halwa is also one of my favorite out here and is going in my list of personal favorites. It was served absolutely hot and it was delightful and flavourful at the same time. It was beautifully presented with cut almond flakes on top. A must try for all.
○ Tutty Fruity Ice Cream – It was not like the usual tutty fruity. It was topped with gems and tasted fine.
○ Firni – The Firni was just fine. However, it can be improvised a lot. I found it what you get in normal Mughlai restaurants. They really can improvise on it.
○ Great ambiance.
○ Exclusive Restaurant which serves Bohri Cuisine in the City of Joy.
○ Good hospitality. The staffs did take notice to take our feedback at the end of our meal.
○ Excellent Food Quality as well as Presentation.
○ Reasonably Priced.
Meal for two: 300-600 approximate (Prices are subject to change due to macroeconomic factors such as inflation, etc.)
○ Team of Salt which includes all the four owners (Prerna, Talat, Lamiya and Ushoshi) who had beautifully organized the Thaal.
○ All the staffs who worked inside the kitchen to make our experience memorable.
I had a great experience here. I will surely be coming soon again to try their dishes specially the stuffed chicken, dry date halwa, biriyani and many more. The only restaurant in Kolkata which serves Bohri Cuisine must not be missed by people who love to eat!! Coming Back Soon!!