Sanhita Sensarma uses ingredients uniquely, especially this lemon from Bengal that she puts into meat curry
The gondhoraj lebu is an incredible lemon. Add a bit of its fragrant juice — or even the leaves — to your dal or your fish curry, and the dish will taste like heaven. My in-laws had a fruit-laden plant in their garden, and we used the lemon and its juice for a host of dishes.
But I’d never had gondhoraj lebu in mutton curry, and was absolutely floored when I did, some days ago. The dish, sent over by my brother-in-law, had been prepared and delivered by Sanhita Sensarma, a corporate lawyer who is now rustling up all kinds of exotic dishes. The gondhoraj mutton had the most sublime aroma of the lime, and the eggs and potatoes in the meat curry made it a memorable dish indeed.
The pandemic has introduced us to a range of home chefs — from those offering basic food to restaurant-style dishes. Sanhita’s food stands out because it is, in a word, different. Just like I had never had gondhoraj mutton curry earlier, I had not eaten Jaffna meat curry either.
She sent us this dark curry prepared with 15 roasted ground spices and roasted red rice. It had a lingering taste of coconut, cardamom and cinnamon. We also had her Wattala black pork curry — succulent fatty pieces of pork in a peppery and tart gravy. We enjoyed it all immensely.
Last week, I asked for two dishes — pork Ularthiyathu and Kundapur seafood ghee roast. The pork, lined with fat, truly melted in the mouth. The meat was cooked sous vide (vacuum packed, then cooked in a water bath) for several hours at a low temperature with spices, and then slow pan roasted with coconut pieces and shallots.
I enjoyed the Bunt prawn and squid dish, too, though I was initially taken aback by the oil. But then this was ghee roast, and the dish had been cooked in Udupi ghee, known for its fragrance. The ghee did give it a gentle kick, while the Byadgi chillies of Karnataka added to its sharp taste, as did the crunchy cashew nuts the dish had been topped with.
Sanhita, who has been studying food for over 23 years, says food obsession is a gene she’s inherited. Her mother, she jokes, holds a PhD in Fish Physiology, while her daughter is set to do her MA in food studies at NYU. Sanhita tells me that she picked up the skill watching her mother in the kitchen.
Every Wednesday, she publishes on Instagram (@gustobysanhita; WhatsApp: 9810427956) her new delivery menu for the weekend ahead. All non-veg dishes cost ₹750 and vegetarian dishes are priced at ₹550. A portion is enough for two.
She usually doesn’t repeat her dishes, but clients often ask for traditional Bengali sweets seldom found in sweet shops. Her menu in recent times included gosht kala bhuna, pulled pork crepes, khow suey, a vegetarian platter for Rath Yatra, dal Moradabadi, and kechki maacher jhal chorchori – sprats cooked with brinjals, spring onions, garlic greens, green chilies, and coriander roots.
How did she get the gondhoraj flavour in the mutton curry? She put some zest into the mutton marinade, leaves in the curry, and then finally a dash of lemon juice when it was done.
She adds a Bengali version of the phrase bon appetit with the food she delivers: Kobji dubiye hok, or let’s indulge.
The writer is a seasoned food critic