Fish, Fusion Food & Freelance

By Indranil Halder 

In the Indian city of Kolkata, other than street vendors, many start-up brands are coming with new outlets (cafes, stalls and restaurants) serving different types of fusion food. These food outlets are decorated with fascinating interiors. Today, Kolkata’s youth like Soumalya Mondal enjoys them all.

Soumalya Mondal:

Soumalya Mondal,is a proud Bengali guy. He is a freelance artist. He makes handmade crafts and merchandise for local art lovers. He works for an interior designing firm. Designing interiors is his passion.

Interior Designing & Food Outlets:

As an interior designer Soumalya, loves to create a space in such a way that people can feel comfortable, relaxed and energised. For him, interior design, shouldn’t be too loud or too boring. Uses monochrome or light background with pop up of colours to balance. Prefers using different kinds of artworks, sculptures and colourful objects as part of designing. Mid-century modern, contemporary European and vibrant tropical are some of his preferences.

Working in the interior designing space, what he loves, is the experimentation with Kolkata interiors. Uses old/recycled items to colourful objects to sculptures. Wall mural paintings or garffiti works are trendy, budget friendly and eye catchy. Goals of his experimentation are, to create jobs for Kolkata’s local artists, great ambiance and lasting impact on customers. Soumalya is happy to see, many Kolkata cafes, restaurants and other food outlets are also giving importance to their interiors.

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Across the globe, in food business, great ambiance is key to customer satisfaction beside high quality food. Soumalya believes, the explosion in interior designing is influenced by city’s vibrant art scene with artists such as Bhaskar Chitrakaar, Paresh Maity and Sukanta Das(exhibited across many city galleries), colourful Durga pujo pandels and city’s young minds. He loves the interior designing works done by Bengali enterprises as AK Enterprises, JS Interior, Epsilon, Cee Bee and Abin Chowdhury Design Studio. He actively looks for food outlets with amazing interiors, such as 6 Ballygunge Palace Restaurant, Ballygunge( vibrant contemporary bengali style with use of Babu-Bibi paintings), Olterra,Park Street ( Fresco work to sleeping sculpture hanging from the ceiling) and WOK’ies, Sarat Chatterjee Avenue (first 2D monochromatic dine-in). They have the Devdas-style grandeur, sophistication and elegance from Bollywood movie.

In Love with Fish , Fusion Food , Freelancing:

Soumalya’s birth place is Kolkata, West Bengal but he enjoys dishes from East Bengal or Bangladesh. One of his favourite fish dishes is “Loita Macher Jhuri Bhaja”,which is fried dish of Bombay duck with ginger garlic paste and lots of spices with tomatoes or tamarind for tangyness. His family is from the district of Medinipur, so whenever he travelled to Bengal country side, he tries dishes which he misses in Kolkata. “Mourala Mach(tiny river fish)er Tok”,which is made of tamarind pulp, some veggies like eggplant, radish, Lady’s finger, pumpkin with Mourala Mach is one such dish. He also loves ‘Patrani Machchi’, (Parsi Fish Steamed in Banana Leaf) dish at Soda Bottle Opener Wala cafe/bar, Kolkata.

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Recently opened, Soda Bottle Opener Wala cafe/bar has Kolkata going crazy for Indo- Iranian food. Maybe because food similarities with Bengali dishes. The cafe’s interior design is fancy. A new and first of its kind outlet in Kolkata’s South City Mall decorated with lights ( purchased from Mutton Street in Mumbai), tiffin boxes and telephones.

Other cafes on his favourite list are Zoom-Tea-O-Graphy (an unique old Kolkata charm serves street food), Cafe Bianco(modern interior serves classic dishes from Italian and French) and Mud Cafe (a vintage Bengali undertone ambiance serves Indo European). Kolkata cafe culture has spread far and wide. With fusion food trend creating contrasting and deliciously indulgent culinary traditions such as Daab Chingari Risotto to Mexican Chicken Egg Roll to Nolen Gur Soufflé. Whereas, restaurants like Burma Burma Restaurant & Tea Room, Park Street, offers Burmese platter which celebrates the influences from North Eastern India, Thailand, and Laos. A perfect space to enjoy dinners with Burmese custom-made pleated lights from a bygone era.

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When city’s fusion food satisfies Soumalya’s hunger, he participates in various exhibitions as freelancing artist at Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata or Indian Council For Cultural Relations(ICCR) or exhibiting his art in some Kolkata cafe. In his childhood days, he used to draw cars,trains and animals. Chalked them on the red oxide flooring of his house. Art gives him a different kind of joy.

Whenever, he gets time after office, it is time for him to use his imagination to create. Fascinated by the different art forms of Bengal, he uses them, in his creations. And Kolkata remains his canvas, whether it be interior designing or painting. It is reassuring that Kolkata youngsters like Soumalya are happy exploring food and freelancing in their own ways and enriching Kolkata’s culture instead of moving abroad.