Calcutta as a city never ceases to amaze me with its rich history and beautiful people .When I shifted to Mumbai ,I would miss its crowd ,club culture,helpful people on the street who are ready to spare time for the citizens besides their erratic schedule,where every hefty argument over coffee table must revolve around politics ,food ,football and Uttam Kumar,where some crazy youngsters are capable of setting up a table in the middle of footpath amidst high traffic zone to play chess . During my childhood ,the craze for movies and Bollywood heroes were to such extent ,that one day schools were declared to be closed when a movie called “Disco Dancer” featuring Mithun chakraborty was scheduled to be shown in Television,I think now strange enough.
Besides this ,the residents of the city are extreme foodies who posses an adventurous palate and this may be the only place where there can be a riot in the city or lockout in the factory over a piece of rotten fish being served in the pantry. Looking back,the food in the city has influences starting from the rule of Mughals ,partition of Bengal,French and British colonial rule,Chinese immigration,infiltration from the adjoining states of Bihar and Orissa and now globalization.
The city has French influence tracing back to the reign of Muhammad Siraj ud-Daulah ,the last independent Nawab of Bengal whose defeat and death marked the start of British rule in Bengal.The history says that the British entered in India as traders and set up East India Company .They had taken the permission of the Nawab to trade in Bengal but the Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was unhappy when the British started strengthening their military powers in Fort Williams. Fearing conspiracy, the Nawab attacked the fort Williams and imprisoned the British officers leading to a tragedy called Black Hole tragedy.The prisoners where stuffed in such a small dungeon where most of them died due to suffocation.Following this, the Nawab started strengthening his French alliances who held a fort in Chandan Nagar against British forces.There was a war battle of plassey between the Nawab and his French allies on one side and British on the other where British defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah and his allies and taken over Bengal.
Talking about French cuisine ,there are still several good French restaurants in Calcutta ,one of them is La Maison Des Delices – Patisserie & Bistro in Hindustan Park.I had this dish chicken fricasse here during my last visit to Calcutta and was overwhelmed by it butter creamy texture.While I decided to try this at home I looked up the website of Martha Stewart for the recipe and modified according to my available ingredients in my pantry.
- Chicken legs (500 gms)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Pepper (1 tbsp)
- 1 onion ,chopped(1 cup)
- Mushroom 2 cups diced
- 1 celery stalk , small pieces
- Garlic (2 cloves)
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp of white wine
- 2 tbsp of refined flour
- 2 cup chicken stock
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 1 cup of fresh cream
- a bunch of thyme leaves
- 2 yolks
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
Fry the chicken sprinkled with salt and pepper till brown on both sides nicely in batches.
Add bay leaves .
Fry the vegetables like celery,mushroom onions in remaining butter.
Add chicken stock ,thyme and wine and simmer in slow heat.
whisk together yolk,cream and flour and form a sauce.
Add carefully stirring to mix on slow heat.
Add the chicken and mix with sauce gently.
Squeeze lime on the sauce and mix.
Sprinkle ground black pepper.
Garnish with parsley and serve hot.