Little known fact: there are actually three major Jewish populations around India, and Curry Hill’s newest member has found a way to incorporate them all into its melting pot of menu offerings.
Haldi, which has Calcutta origins, offers the best of Bengali, Baghdadi Jewish, and Marwari (Rajasthani) cooking all in one place. The restaurant’s core mission is to revel in the cooking of Bengal, India's easternmost region, but the diversity of the menu will have you a bit stumped on how to order.
Before we get to the menu, however, here’s a quick history lesson:
The Jewish population of India are one of the three historic Hebrew communities of India: the Black Jews of Cochin (from the southern state of Kerala), the Bene Israel (from Bombay, now named Mumbai), and the Baghdadis of Calcutta. By the twentieth century, they had developed a distinctive cuisine combining Middle Eastern and Indian elements.
Chef Mathur introduces the flavors that embody this cuisine and heritage with a beet and potato cutlet made with peanuts and topped with cilantro chutney; Chingri Shorsay Narkol – a dish comprising shrimp, coconut, and mustard gravy; cheese samosas served with garlic tomato sauce; and the best fish kebabs you will ever have, made with cod fish, cilantro, and green chili marinade.
Other unique offerings include a Gatta curry of steamed chickpea flower cakes with yogurt and tomato curry; fish Paturi of steamed flounder, coconut, mustard, and chili; and grilled pumpkin with pickle marinade and panch poran spice.
My suggestion? Go with a group that won’t mind sharing, or plan to return a few times to try everything. It’s worth the trip.