Round the year they serve a bit of every kind of cuisine that Calcuttans have developed a palate for. Their menu card is a melange of north Indian, Bengali, Oriental and Continental dishes. Even among Oriental, if Chicken Takrai and Pad Thai come from Thailand, Chicken Teriyaki, Prawn Tempura and Hibachi Fried Rice have roots in Japan while Nasi Goreng, Mei Goreng and Chicken Satay are from Indonesian kitchens.
“We want to turn every family that steps into our restaurant into an Orko’ss family. We want to cater to the taste buds of every member,” smiled Arindam Maity, general manager of the City Centre restaurant.
But when it comes to hosting special events, Orko’ss prefers to stick to its core competence area, the cuisine that they exclusively started out with 14 years ago — North Indian.
Currently, there is a month-long Kebab, Biryani and Roll festival underway at the restaurant which will continue till September 30. “Yes, it’s raining but we are not hosting a hilsa festival,” laughed Maity. While the silver crop might be a seasonal favourite among Bengalis, others fight shy of the fish known for its fine bones, he explained. “This is gaining more currency. On the opening day itself, we sold about 60 portions of our special biryani.”
The biryani he refers to is indeed special. It has mutton, chicken and egg — all stuffed into a substantial portion of long-grained rice and slow cooked in a clay handi. Since it is Calcutta-style biryani in flavour, the ubiquitous potato is also there. Priced at Rs 735, it can be shared by a family of three. “People are requesting this even for home delivery, promising to return the handi in which it is served the next time they visit. We are obliging within a radius of 4km,” Maity laughs.
Explaining the distinction between Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryani, the two other traditional variants they are serving, the company’s group chef Sujan Paul points out that while the north Indian biryani has nuts alongside key ingredients like kesar, cardamom, cinnamon and zafran, and is more generous with ghee, making it more aromatic, the south Indian version has more spices — coriander, fennel seeds, saunf, pudina, Guntoor chilli and a lot of mint. Lucknowi Gosht Biryani is priced Rs 630 while Hyderabadi biryani costs Rs 525 for the non-veg option. The vegetarian version of both costs Rs 315.
But Vilaiti Subzi Biryani is nothing traditional about it. “We have experimented with exotic veggies in biryani like babycorn, capsicum, broccoli, zuccini instead of the usual beans and cauliflower. It has come off well and is getting good response from vegetarian customers,” said Paul.
In the roll section, they have introduced some out of the ordinary varieties. There is Shitake Bamboo Shoot Roll, priced Rs 367, in which the filling is of shitake mushroom and bamboo shoots on a base of vegetables, which is served with dips of sweet chilli and hoisin sauce. There is Arabian kofta roll in which skewered lamb meat and tomato, olive, cucumber and lettuce are grilled in tandoor, wrapped in pita bread, shawarma style, with yoghurt and tahini paste, made of sesame seed, that is sprinkled during wrapping. It costs Rs 367 or Rs 315 based on whether the lamb or the vegetarian filling is chosen. The Basilica Paneer Tikka uses paneer grilled in tandoor, stuffed with nuts and cheese, but dipped in basil pesto sauce that is used with pasta.
A tasty option among the vegetarian fare is Firdausi Alu, in which barrel-shaped potatoes filled with a mix of paneer, marinated in yoghurt and masala and grilled (Rs 367).
Two chicken dishes were also served on the table. One was Kandhari Tandoori Chooza, comprising a baby chicken skewered and grilled whole (Rs 735). The other is Tangri Golestani, a protein blast, in which four pieces of chicken drumstick stuffed with mutton keema is served with paratha (Rs 525).
“We will request customers to jot down their favourite dish of the day on a board outside. If it turns out to be among the top-rated items of the festival and we choose to add it to our regular menu, the dish will be complimentary the next time he visits us,” the general manager said.