The thing with Indian cuisine is that each region has its specialty. The subtle and, at times, not-so-subtle flavor profiles beautifully combine to give you a perfect dish every single time. Highly influenced by flavors reminiscent of the colonial West Bengal region during his trips in India, Thamer AlAbduljaleel came back to Kuwait with a venture that would transport everyone back in time, sans time machine – and Hotel Calcutta was born. More than just a restaurant, Hotel Calcutta is a nod to India’s colonial era evident in both dishes and décor, but with a fantastic twist of course. You quickly realize that with every step you take, all you want to do is take photos of everything. From the beautiful woodwork as you enter and the old school “hotel reception” (fully equipped with traditional copper room keys), to the whimsical paintings of tigers reimagined as maharajas and the pink marble-top tables – snap-post-repeat. Everything was thought out carefully and beautifully executed to bring you a taste of colonial Bombay in Kuwait. Personally overlooking every step in both decorative and culinary process along with his culinary partners, Thamer’s exact vision is what we sampled and enjoyed throughout our visit.
Poppadum and dips were brought out in an instant as we perused through the menu in search of our feast. We ordered a Saffron Mango Lassi and the cumin flavored Mast Lassi to get begin, and then the soups, salads and starters poured in. Let it be known that you’ve never had lentil soup until you’ve visited Hotel Calcutta and had their Mulligatawny. Bold statement this might be, but trust us, their take on the comforting Indian specialty, resplendent with pieces of apple, spiced chicken and rice, is not to be missed. With the Sev Puri, crispy cases are filled with sprouted Mung beans with a tamarind and mint chutney, offered an explosive sensory experience. But the appetizer that completely stole the show, and our hearts, was the Lady Finger Jaipuri: a beautifully spiced crispy batter coating delicious okras then lightly fried. Have it alone or dip it into the herbed yoghurt, either way we couldn’t physically stop eating.
From the grills, we went with the Tandoori Chicken Tikka. Cooked in a traditional tandoor, the chicken is covered in a fiery marinade before being grilled to perfection. Being absolute curry fiends, we ordered two diverse dishes: The Coconut Prawn Curry and their signature Hotel Calcutta Dal Makhani. The prawn curry comes in a split coconut filled to the brim with a deliciously fragrant coconut curry while the Hotel Calcutta Dal Makhani is a slow-cooked-over-night black lentil buttery stew. To accompany our grill and curry feast, we had plain rice as well as butter-laden naan and light roti. Lastly, from the Chawal & Roti menu, we went with a superbly palatable Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani. This glorious pie-like dish comes with a crispy crust filled with fragrant rice, tender pieces of chicken, boiled eggs and drenched in gravy. No words could truly portray how delicious our meal was. Just when we thought we were done, dessert came along.
Dessert at Hotel Calcutta is nothing short of spectacular. We fell in love with the Gulab Jamoon Cheesecake that cleverly blends tradition with modernity. A first glance reveals a normal cheesecake, but upon closer inspection, you will find pieces of traditional, sinfully sweet, Gulab Jamoon. Fear not, the creamy cheesecake filling cleverly cuts into the sweetness of the Gulab Jamoon, giving you a delightful flavor with every bite. If you’re after some chocolate decadence, then the Spiced Melted Chocolate fondant will do the trick! We also fell in love with the smart take on a classic bread and butter pudding in the form of the Naan & Butter pudding. When we asked Thamer about why they chose to incorporate Naan bread into this dish, he wickedly replied with a smile, “Why not?” With this pudding, the delicate sweet flavors one usually would expect with the bread and butter pudding are elevated with the use of Naan. From flavor to texture, this dessert is a winner! If you’re craving something cold to lightly finish off your Indian feast at Hotel Calcutta, then we highly recommend that you try the Masala Karak tea home-made ice cream. For the more adventurous, there’s also a curry flavored offering. Expect an explosion of flavor with every teensy spoonful, this dessert comes with a mighty zing!
Indulge in the flavors of the colonial West Bengal region with every visit to Hotel Calcutta. Located in the SoKu area of Grand Avenue – The Avenues, follow them on Instagram @HotelCalcutta for incredible imagery. Call them on 2220 1088 for reservations and inquiries!