arsalan - kolkata, india
Rating: 9 / 10
My zeal for Indian food will never diminish until I'm six feet under and turned to worm food. Having said that, even in the holiest of holies, the motherland, you can still have some diabolical meals if you're unlucky. But if, like me, you have local friends who have your best interests at heart, who live and breathe for good food, good music and good films, then you'll navigate those pitfalls with suprising ease.
Having said all of that, the first time I ate at Arsalan was a lucky mistake. It was the closest restaurant to my hotel after an arduous flight, and I ended up eating there out of convenience.
Fast forward five years, and flanked by Rajneesh Maneesh and The Wandering Hand, we piled into Arsalan with hunger brushed on our faces.
As is the case when you don't dine solo, you can order a few different dishes and get a better overview. Thus followed the conveyor belt with chicken kebabs of different incarnations, boneless mutton in gravy, two types of biryani and fresh lime sodas - no sugar, no salt.
It was an excruciating task of divine punishment to plough through such wonders. Each mouthful offered a new surprise, a new flavour. Every dish was perfectly succulent and seasoned and the biryani was pillowy light. If one tiny correction had to be relayed, it would be that the mutton, tho tender, was slightly tame in taste. It didn't hold up against the cascade of love from the other dishes.
Stomachs protruding like characters from a mob movie, we exited shaking every available hand in gratitude. The skies offered us safe passage back to the hotel, and to bed, to lie under a full speed fan cutting the humid air with Japanese precision.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"