Warren resident Sophia Paul is on a mission to redefine the American notion that using varied spices in Indian food means spicy “hot."
“There is a feeling that when people are talking about spicy it actually means hot, but food from Eastern India offers spices for flavor not for hotness,” Paul said.
Paul is almost one month into her family’s launch of Warren’s newest restaurant, A Calcutta Affair—an Indian eatery that specializes in chic Eastern Indian Cuisine indicative of the Calcutta region of India, located at 53 Mountain Blvd. in Warren, where Cafe Verona had been before it closed last year.
Indian cuisine from the Calcutta region, also sometimes referred to as Bengali cuisine, is marked by dishes with subtle flavorful spice combinations that most any patron would find palatable.
“It’s a matter of balancing the spices and herbs in such a way that even a five-year-old kid can eat any entrée of ours,” said Goura Paul, Sophia’s father and a former restauranteur in India for more than 30 years.
Other aspects of Indian food from the Calcutta region is use of freshly ground mustard paste and a wide variety of cereal, lentil, vegetable, fresh water fish farmed from the Ganges River delta. Mutton (goat meat) is also used for cooking as are poultry, fruits, milk and coconut.
It’s a distinct departure from the “standard” Indian cuisine that most Americans will find in Indian restaurants in the area—Northern Indian cuisine, marked by Naan, creamy dishes and common spice varieties—and Southern Indian cuisine, marked by Dosa, biriyani rice dishes and spicy hot curries.
“When I go with my family and friends to generic Indian restaurants, my experience has been that I can’t get something other than the red curry or the orange creme, something that my kids can eat without it being spicy hot,” Sophia Paul said.
What patrons can expect at A Calcutta Affair, Paul said, is not only a palatable, distinctly different spice base for each dish, but the fusion of different ethnic styles. Of particular note is fusion between Chinese and Indian cuisine.
“Our Chinese noodle dishes are something different (compared to Chinese food),” Goura Paul said. “We use soy sauce and we use chili sauce and we use vinegar but in different ways.”
Sophia Paul said that A Calcutta Affair will strive to create a large variety of dishes with many signature dishes.
“In every category I have at least two Calcutta specials—for example, I have Calcutta Samosa, which is different than traditional Indian Samosa.”
One of the ways more variety is presented on the menu is through the buffet service, which is available on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Through the buffet I will introduce even more Calcutta type the foods,” Sophia Paul said. “That’s why it’s an affair.”
The menu for A Calcutta Affair menu can be found on the restaurant's Website.