Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Keeping This Fish from Smelling

So yesterday for lunch we headed west to the upscale, suburbanish neighborhood of Indiranagar, which surely has one of the highest number of restaurants per capita in Bangalore. (Koramangala has even more.) Anyway, the Parsi deli we'd first hoped to find had closed, and we couldn't find the Bengali hole-in-the-wall, so instead we ended up at a very fancy Bengali restaurant called 6 Ballygunge Place, a branch of a chain that started in Calcutta .The place was doing a very good business on a Sunday.

I'm no expert on Bengali food, but what I did know is that it's famous for 1) seafood and 2) its pungent mustard sauces. Don's dish, dab chingri, satisfied both requirements. It was prawns in a mustard and coconut gravy, with neither ingredient getting the upper hand and balancing each other out. I did my best to get as much of it from him as I could, but I could have done with more. The dish was actually cooked and served in a tender (green) coconut, which is always fun.

We also got some bhajas: onion, eggplant, and potato pieces covered in batter and deep-fried. Deep-fried vegetables are hard to beat, especially with some strong mustard dip on the side.

And then came the Bombay duck (loitya shutki). Oh boy. As you may know, this is actually a smallish fish that's been dried and salted. It's famously stinky and oily*. As advertised!

The first hint that all this talk about stink was true may have been when Don's dish came first, and only after we'd been served completely did the "duck" come. It was in a bowl. With a lid over it. I think the restaurant didn't want the trashpile-on-a-hot-summer-afternoon smell to escape until the last possible moment.

The fish had been chopped up and then fried with lots of chilis. It was oily, salty, strong, almost like Thai fish sauce or anchovies or something. It wasn't disgusting, but it was overwhelming and spicy and I don't think I'll be putting in the time necessary to acquire this particular taste.

Overall, we though 6 Ballygunge was very, very good. But over at Mouthshut (kind of like Trip Advisor for Indian things) and burrp, the reviews are mixed. If anyone else, Bengali or otherwise, has eaten at this place and has strong opinions about it, I'd love to hear them.

* And ugly. See here.

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