A Touch of Spice AS I WONDERED DOWN THE MAIN STREET OF PARNELL, A SENSE OF FAMILIARITY CAME OVER ME. THE QUAINT ANTIQUE SHOPS, THE FASHION-FORWARD CLIENTELE AND THE CULINARY INSTITUTION THAT IS OH CALCUTTA. As I walk in, I am greeted by the warm smile of Anand. I’m beckoned over to join him in his office , the third table back from the road, visible but not a prime table that a customer might want; this man is always thinking about customer service! The intended 0-45-minute interview finished four hours later, with me having to pull myself away. I simply couldn’t get enough of this man’s charm, knowledge and humble stories. A man who looking at the cover, you wouldn’t think he had ‘done it tough’. Anand’s tenacity and sheer stubborn will was something his father identified with but he saw his restless son struggling with his purpose and reached out with an offer. ou ma ook ndian, ou ma a e an ndian name, but t ere is not in ndian about ou ou need to reconnect it our roots and ain some perspecti e and direction m sendin ou to ndia And it was in that moment that everything changed for Anand. His father did not sent him to the cultural hub or shopping district, his father sent him to a small rural village in Gujarat, disconnected to the world but connected to community and all things family. It’s there that he met his wife Meena and learnt how to be Indian, how to be respectful and how to have an incredible work ethic. Together with his wife, he learnt how to cook humble, rustic Indian food. eturning to New Zealand in 1994 with his new bride, they embarked on finding a space where they could open a restaurant and take Meena’s incredible gift of spice to the masses. The perfect spot opened up in Parnell and with his excellent negotiation skills acquired during his days in insurance, Anand secured a prime location. e set about fitting out the restaurant himself with friends and family and antiquities he’d acquired in India. The restaurant was authentic, full of character and would become one of only six Indian restaurants in Auckland at that time. But over time, some of those have come and gone and many more in their wake, but Oh Calcutta has remained in the same spot, with the same owners and the same traditional recipes for almost 25 years! Oh Calcutta is a must isit when you’re wanting to indulge in the culinary delights of spice and tandoor! Exploring the cuisine of several regions across the subcontinent, Oh Calcutta’s sophisticated menu, re ects an understanding and passion for good food and intense avours. With an emphasis on refined yet creative Indian cuisine, their menu incorporates both traditional-classic favourites and original new dishes that apply eastern avours with western produce. Their highly skilled chefs use only the finest ingredients, buying fresh spices which are painstakingly ground and mixed by hand, ensuring pure quality. Understanding the complexity of Indian dishes and the right balance of spices is something I feel many take too lightly, it’s a dance on the palette of hot, sweet, spicy and smoke and too far one way can make a dish bitter or overpowering. In this case, more is not more!
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