If you’re a vegetarian in Kolkata you’ll get to hear the following statements way too often:
‘Bro want to hear a Paradox? – Veg Biryani. Haahaha!’
‘Just ad Paneer to everything, that’s Veg Food right?’
‘How do you Veg guys get your nutrition man!’
‘Kya ghaas phoos khata hai yaar’ etc, etc.
So when we received an invite from the gracious owners of Hakunamatata the noted all-vegetarian restaurant on Park Street, our reaction was pretty much the same as the above mentioned dialogues.
Little did we know though that our perception of vegetarian food was going to change – FOR LIFE.
We’ll walk you through our journey
On any other day, the very mention of Bhindi by mom at the dinner table brings out the funniest of expressions but the first arsenal of ‘Veg Food’ at our visit to Hakunamatata came in the form of Crunchy Fried Bharwan Bhindi.
Picture courtesy: thefoodomaniac.wordpress.com
Well, the first bite came as a treat to the palate as the crunch of the crumb gave access to the warm and soft filling inside. We were floored right from the beginning.
Okay. Maybe ‘Veg Food’ isn’t as bad as we picture it. Maybe.
Then came the Crispy Feuille Papdi
Trust us, they’re in no way like your regular Papdi chaat.
Crispy feuille papdi is an interesting incorporation of mille-feuill which is a popular French Pastry that has alternating layers of pastry and cream. So our desi Papdi Ghaat gets a new look and style when sandwiched between two crispy Papdis. Got to get your hands dirty for this one!
The fresh filling coupled with the perfect sprinkle of herbs is a treat to the senses.
Along came our favourite Mini Baked Crostini
Well for all the connoisseurs of those ‘Tequila Shots’, hold your horses a bit, this isn’t what it looks like.
The folks here sure know how to present their food. Corstini in a shot glass!
The Mini Baked Crostini had a filling of smooth laal saag with tangy chutney to balance the flavour. Served in shot glasses, they made for a pretty picture, which we can say for all the dishes we were presented with.
The perfect combination of spices and flavours will have you ‘downing shots’ quite literally.
And we thought only ‘Non Vegetarian’ food could be experimented with!
By now we knew we had lost the battle of the eternal ‘Vegetarian V/s Non Vegetarian’ food to Hakunamatata.
Yes, the same old Bhindi, Papdi Chaat and Laal Saag had crushed a life-long ego of being a proud connoisseur of hardcore meat-loving food. And the battle had not even started for Hakunamatata as one by one new weapons of vegetarian gastronomic pleasure were strewn upon us by our gracious hosts.
In came the Desi Saag Risotto. Yes, the regular Risotto in a not so regular combination.
Desi Saag Risotto was by far the best Risotto we have tasted in Kolkata yet. Interestingly made with fresh saag, this risotto is a melt in the mouth experience.
From the flavour to the texture and the after taste, we couldn’t help but plunge like hungry souls into our dishes.
Then came the Puree of Pumpkin
The Pumpkin soup/ Puree of Pumpkin was a creamy thick soup which tasted less like pumpkin (good news for us) more like a cream of onion soup. It is sure to warm your heart on a cold evening.
This too, had our life long meat-exposed taste buds confused for a second as we couldn’t help but love it.
And like a final blow, came the Mezze Platter
The Indian inspired mezze platter was a vegetarian version with Daal pakodas, Baingan Bharta and lachha parathas. Trust us, they are in no way what they sound like and are a must try for those willing to experiment with their taste buds.
Not to forget the exotic beverages that just kept coming in the quirkiest of presentations.
The Desi Swag Vodka plus Shikanji is sure to give you an early buzz, this cocktail is packed with flavours that will tickle your senses.
The house special Matata Mojito comes in a very interesting smoking kettle, this makes for an interesting drink and and an even more interesting click.
Cheers and Beers – too much for two. This is a bucket with beer along with some sharp taste of some the best spices.
The Matata Cooler is a fresh combination of Tender Coconut Water, Fresh Water Melon & Mint and is served in the quirkiest manner
And as if we weren’t floored enough, came the Mocha Mousse
The Mocha Mousse is an attempt to make a true and blue Michelin Star quality dessert.
Pour some hot chocolate sauce into it and Voila! Your dessert is ready.
The dessert, rich in chocolate can in no way go wrong. Trust us, if you haven’t been addicted to something in life before, you WILL BE addicted to the Mocha Mousse
In all, we can safely say that Hakunamatata is every foodies paradise. Not ‘Non-Veg’ or ‘Veg’ but simply any ‘foodie’ with an open mind.
Hakunamatata is a clear reply to the world that global cuisine can very well be fused with authentic desi spices and vegetables. And done so in all its glory.
We should all be proud of the very fact that Hakunamatata dares to exist and emerge victorious in the otherwise meat-loving Kolkata. That coupled with the ever-gracious hosts that make a lovely couple is sure to make your visit worth it.
Like the song goes.
Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days
Well, walk in to the restaurant, and that’s what happens.
When do you plan to give your taste buds a pleasant surprise here?
Keep an eye out for a special story on the interesting couple running the show at Hakunamatata. Watch this space for more.