I can’t believe that it has been 15 years already! I remember when the ITC Sonar building was under construction, there was so much curiosity amongst the general public. That time, Kolkata did not have too many luxury hotels so we were all very excited. My first visit to ITC Sonar took place soon after they launched and it was a visit to Peshawri. For the last 15 years, it has been one of my favorite hotels so I felt really special when the management invited me to be part of their Crystal Anniversary celebration. On this special occasion, ITC Sonar has come up with a range of offers for their patrons. One of them is called 15 Hours Nostalgia where you basically spend 15 hours in the hotel experiencing luxury at its best.
When a hardcore non-vegetarian girl received an invite from ITC Sonar for a tasting of pure vegetarian Sheherwali cuisine, her first reaction was “Sounds interesting but how do I have a whole meal without fish, meat, potato, garlic and onion??”. It was the first time she heard about the Sheherwalis, the Jain community from the havelis of Murshidabad and she spent some time researching on their history and their food. She got really interested and eagerly looked forward to her meal at the ITC Sonar Eden Pavilion.
The Sheherwalis have been living in Bengal for almost 300 years. The Jain families who came to Murshidabad became a close knit community with their distinct culture, demeanor, style, food and way of living. They adapted to their new environs, and migrated to a new lifestyle in empathy with local customs, practices and values. The love of food, especially all things sweet, is an accurate label for any Sheherwali. Food features prominently in this community, evolving passionately through their 300 year history in Bengal. Sheherwali cuisine is a vegetarian’s paradise, in which Bengali meets Rajasthani, Afghan, Mughal, Awadhi and several European culinary practices making it a unique mix of ingredients and flavors that tantalizes the palate.
Vegetarian food and I, lets just say, we are not the best of friends. I recognize its value and worth but I find it extremely tough to have an entire meal that is purely vegetarian and enjoy it. But wonder of wonders, I savored an Uttam Bhoj at ITC Sonar early this week and I loved it! The Bhoj was courtesy Chef Gunjan Goela, a consultant with the ITC Hotels for Indian vegetarian specialty cuisine. Her forte is vegetarian cuisine of Old Delhi, developed after thorough research into the capital’s culinary history.
Till 7th June, ITC Sonar brings you Chef Gunjan Goela with her rendition of Uttam Bhoj, offering a wide range of vegetarian delicacies with a different flavour. It is an excellent combination of Rajasic food (that which excites the senses) and Sattvic food (which heals the senses), which after a meal gives one a complete feeling of satisfaction and gratification.