A taste of the Mediterranean in Kolkata (Eating out with IANS)

April 20th, 2010 - 11:49 am ICT by IANS  

By Pradipta Tapadar
Kolkata, April 20 (IANS) Want to try out Mediterranean dishes like Fisherman’s Ciopino (Moroccan), Gamboroni Formaggi (Italian) and Chak Chauka (Turkish)? Just step into any of Kolkata’s popular restaurants that specialise in Mediterranean cuisine for a memorable dining experience.

Mediterranean cuisine is unique to countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Lebanon, situated around the Mediterranean Sea.

“The people of Kolkata have an appetite for Mediterranean food. In our restaurant we offer various kinds of Mediterranean dishes such as Falafel and Shish Taouk. Since the day we started our restaurant, Kolkatans have made this cuisine a symbol of celebration,” said Jaffer Ali, manager, MEZZE Mediterranean restaurant.

Fish dishes are common in Mediterranean cuisine and seafood is prominent in many of the standard recipes. Olive oil and garlic are widely used in the preparation and hence it is believed that the cuisine is particularly healthy.

“The specialty of Mediterranean food is that th items are made with special kinds of spices such as Samak. Lemon salts are also used. They are cooked in olive oil, which makes the food healthy,” said Dibyendu Nayak, food manager, Mio Amore Mediterranean restaurant.

For nearly a decade, residents of Kolkata have lapped up Mediterranean cuisine served by popular restaurants like Little Italy, Barbeque Nation Restaurant, Mezze and Mio Amore.

“I love Mediterranean food. The items are delicious and at the same time less oily. Gamboroni Formaggi and Falafel are two of my most favourite dishes,” said Prasenjit Adhikary, a marketing manger with a private company.

Dhruva Saha, another foodie, said: “Um M ‘Ali is the best desert preparation I have ever had in my life. The experience of having a slice of Um M ‘Ali is simply heavenly.”

Some of the finest delicacies from Mediterranean countries that can please the taste buds of the food connoisseurs are:

Gamboroni Formaggi (Italian) - King prawn cooked in garlic butter and lemon sauce. It is a main course dish.

Um M ‘Ali (Lebanese) - A bread pudding made with puff pastry and a few other key ingredients.

Falafel (Egyptian) - A fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans.

Shish Taouk - A traditional Arabic and Turkish shish kebab. Cubes of chicken are skewered and grilled. Common marinades are based upon yoghurt or a tomato puree, though there are many variations.

A Mediterranean meal for two would cost nearly Rs.600 to Rs.800. These restaurants not only provide foodies of the city a taste of Mediterranean cuisine, but the ambience — Mediterranean music, architecture and paintings — too matches the food on offer.

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