A little bit of Spain in Kolkata

Paella – My first experience
My experience with Spanish food started with Paella in 2008. It was a team offsite at the Mont Blanc, in Tarragona, Catalonia, around 120 km from Barcelona.

Paella Valencia

I was a bit taken aback with its first sight when the host brought it in a big pan (almost like a big kadhai typically used in Kolkata for making Chaamp). It looked like Khichdi mixed with seafood.

Disappointing first experience
My first look at Paella was disappointing. I was almost salivating as I came to know that Paya would be served for lunch. Paya is how the Catalans pronounce Paella.  It was heartbreaking as the paya became a khichdi with lots of seafood. My colleague Andreu explained to me the origin of Paella.  The farmers in Valencia started making it more than 1000 years back. Easy food, which was fast to make and easy to digest. The food now becomes almost a National Food of Spain.

Paella in San Jose

Homemade Paella by Avik

I had my first paella with lots of mental blocks. However, it immediately became one of my favourite dishes. And I continue exploring the dish in different parts of the globe. I have visited Spain a minimum 20 times and I made it a point to taste Paella from a different region of the country.  I tried making the food at home as well. My cousin Avik makes as perfect as it is available in the streets of Valencia.

Raj’s Spanish Café
I am not the best person when it comes to exploring a new restaurant. Indrajit Lahiri, aka Foodka who introduced me to Raj’s Spanish Café. The food, the ambience, the host and more than anything, Rafael made it probably one of the most memorable culinary journeys for me.

Before coming to the food, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the overall feel of the place. The very first look of Raj’s Spanish Café at Sudder Street will give you the exact feel of a café in Spain. The aroma of the coffee, nice olive oil, open-air sitting area and the graffitis made the place extremely authentic.

Raj Spanish Cafe ¡Hola! Bienvenido” 
I was accompanied by Orijit Bose, another regular visitor to Spain. We were trying to locate the place when an old young man grabbed us and greeted us in Spanish. Without asking our preferences, he handed over a plate full of Paella. He said, “bon appetit” with a warm smile.
A welcome to remember for a lifetime. I felt at home immediately. Raj later introduced me to Rafael who had a terrible past and have no one left in Madrid to go back. Rafael is 68 and goes back to Madrid every three months in order to renew his visa. His paella immediately reminds me of the street in Barcelona.

Paella in Kolkata

Rafel served Paella without asking anything

The Paella
The Paella was extremely authentic in its texture. The plating was also very authentic. What I missed is the spread of seafood as it was made only with chicken. The surprise element was the addition of sliced boiled egg in it. Probably Rafael added the slice of the bolied eggs to give it a feel of Squid. I was missing the strong flavour of olive oil. I cannot blame Raj for that as I know how difficult it is to get perfect olive oil in Kolkata.

Apart from Paella, we had roasted chicken. And I must say, this is the best Chicken Roast I ever had in Kolkata, if not in India. When I complimented Raj about the roasted chicken he gave a smile and asked me to go and check the oven at the back. No wonder why the chicken tastes so complete. The smoky, garlic soaked chicken drenched in olive oil with perfect burn almost melted in my mouth. Roasted Chicken is a simple dish. Somehow Kolkata makes it overly complicated. What I dislike most is the use of unnecessary sauces.

Coming to the roasted chicken, I must say a few words about the mashed potato. To me scrambled egg and mashed potato are pure art. It is simple yet it requires special skills to make them.

Pollo Asado

The perfect roast

The simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve and the Mashed Potato they made here was awesome. It was perfectly buttery, fluffy and extremely smooth.

I had a jealous glance at the thin-crust pizza which they were serving to Catherine, a lovely young lady sitting next to me. But my stomach was so full that I had to give it a miss this time. But trust me will come back soon.

Raj requested to have soufflè di cioccolato. Though I am not that sweet lover, but this was unbelievably tasty. The hot chocolate mixed with a scoop of ice-cream – a delicious dessert for any season.

 

It would be wrong not to mention the double espresso. This is one thing that I miss in

The man who brought Spain in Kolkata

Raj Spanish Cafe Kolkata

Kolkata. With due respect to most of the coffee shops, here the concept of espresso often ends up in serving a small cup of black coffee. What I had here was extremely well-made coffee. The aroma was perfectly balanced. For sure there’s enough reason to come back to Raj’s Spanish Café.

For all who love authentic Spanish food in Kolkata, this place is a must for visit.

 

Indrajit Lahiri was kind enough to put it in his famous blog Moha Mushkil. Here is is the link https://moha-mushkil.com/raj-spanish-cafe-experience-sunando-banerjee/

To know more about my Spanish Wine experience, please read this. 

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sunando1974

Entrepreneur, Top Marketing Consultant, Retail Specialist, restaurateur, Globetrotters, Phtoholics, Father and a Son, learner and a human

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