Brunch at the New Bhawanipur Outlet of Banana Leaf
If you love vegetarian food and live in Kolkata, then you probably already know about Banana Leaf. One of the most popular South Indian restaurants in Kolkata, it is a venture of Hotel Komala Vilas which has been operating in Rashbehari for 74 long years. And now, there’s a new outlet at Bhawanipur. I recently enjoyed a sumptuous brunch at the new Bhawanipur outlet of Banana Leaf gave me the opportunity and got to try some of the best veggie delights available in my city!
Bloggers’ Brunch at the New Bhawanipur Outlet of Banana Leaf
For three years, I have attended my college classes in Lake Market without once feeling the compulsion to visit the famed Rashbehari outlet of Banana Leaf. So, I’ll choose not to describe my feelings when I got invited to attend a brunch at the new Bhawanipur outlet of Banana Leaf, with my blogger friends from Panch Phoron. But, my brunch there made me realize what I have missed, and what makes this place such a household name.
Location and Ambience
The new outlet of Banana Leaf is located on SP Mukherjee Road, in the Jatin Das park area of Bhawanipur. If you take the lane after crossing Bhawanipur police station and Bijoli Grill, you’ll be able to spot Banana Leaf easily; it’s right opposite to the Ghosh Dastidar Institute for Fertility Clinic. The restaurant is on the first floor, and is a fairly modest place, with a simple but sophisticated décor. I was there on a wintry morning, and I particularly loved how the sunlight flooded in through the window, and gave the place a gentle warmth.
My Brunch Menu
The menu for the bloggers’ brunch included some of their popular dishes, as well as some items which tuned out to be unique, at least for a veg food novice like me – and quite delightfully so! My journey began with halwa, and ended with Degree Coffee, the irony of which is not lost upon me. Well, I had a good reason.
Rava Kesari/ Soji Halwa
The first batch of this golden-hued dessert was fresh out of the kitchen, and we just HAD to try it while it had steam coming out of it! Now, isn’t that a good enough reason to start with dessert? It was full of dry fruits, golden because of the saffron! It also had a lovely texture that felt smooth in the mouth!
A plate full of adorable, baby-sized idlis that can be popped into the mouth – how cute is that! They were served with a dash of desi ghee, which gave them a beautiful softness, and tasted great with the sambhar and coconut chutney. We also tried their perfectly circular ‘adult’ idlis, but the babies were CUTE!
A simple and traditional South Indian delicacy, the sada vada is a doughnut made of urad dal, or black gram/lentil. The one we tried had an amazing contrast of textures. It was deliciously crispy on the outside, while the inside was soft and nice. I loved how it was absolutely light and gentle, despite being fried.
It was so exciting to see a large roll of dosa that didn’t fit into the plate, as it came out of the kitchen! The spiced potato masala tasted different from what I’ve tried before. It had mashed potato, with a soft texture, instead of chunks. Each bite of the crispy dosa turned soft and melted away with the masala!
This one has a layer of a delicious green paste made of not just dhania i.e. coriander, but also pudina (mint), along with other spices. I am a big fan of coriander, and I enjoyed having this dosa on winter morning, though I would’ve preferred only corander. You can also enjoy this dosa with masala and cheese!
This dish of Banana Leaf is among the most popular among the customers of the restaurant. And, upon tasting, I could tell why! The dosa is smeared with Mysore masala, which is a paste of coconut, tomato, garlic and chilli. The reddish layer on the dosa had a gentle heat, and gave a delightful twist to the dosa!
Cheese Onion Rava Dosa
The highlight of my experience at Banana leaf was the Cheese onion Rava Dosa. It’s made of rava i.e. semolina, instead of the commonly used rice flour, and had thick layer of cheese and chopped up onions. With cheese oozing out of every piece, there’s nothing about this dish that you won’t fall in love with!
Another one of my top favourites, the Iddyappam looks like a plate of boiled noodles. But, it’s actually one whole soft bread, made by pressing rice flour into noodle form, and then steaming it all together. Also called Seme da Addae, Shavige in Kannada, Nooputt, Putumayam or string hoppers, this traditional food from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Kodava, Karnataka, and Sri Lanka can also be eaten with a non-vegetarian dish – but not at Banana Leaf, of course.
Instead of one large Uttapam of a single flavour, you get to try five small ones of distinct flavours! They all tasted very different from each, with unique tastes and flvaours. A must-try if you like uttapams!
This is a favourite beverage from South India, and is served in a stainless cup and a bowl. Why the two utensils? For the swishing, of course! Pour it the from cup to the bowl, and back again to mix the sugar at the bottom. This will create a creamy, frothy layer on top of your coffee! That’s how you have a perfect end to a traditional South Indian on a winter day!
The rest of the South Indian restaurants in Kolkata are improvising on dosa and idli to make them non-vegetarian. Or, they’re trying to bring the best of tastes of coastal cuisines to help expand the Kolkatans’ culinary horizon. But not Banana Leaf. It’s a pure vegetarian eatery and has stuck to the traditional styles of cooking idlis and dosas – and much more from down south! I highly recommend that you drop in at the new Bhawanipur outlet of Banana Leaf, and enjoy some cheese onion dosa, Mysore dosa, etc., amid its old-school décor and beautiful ambience!