Bengalis are known to be foodies (বাঙালি মানেই খাদ্য রসিক). And this enthusiasm manifolds during the 4 days of Durga Puja. From Kathi Rolls to Kobiraji Cutlets, from Phuchka/ Panipuri/ Gol Gappa (ফুচকা ) to Jhal muri (ঝাল মুড়ি), from Biryani (বিরিয়ানি) to Chicken Ala kiev, from Chelo Kebab to Kosha Mansho (কষা মাংস) and Luchi (লুচি), from Dab Chingri (ডাব চিংড়ি) to Ilish Pathuri Bengali relish and savour everything during these days.
Durga Puja 2016 is around the corner and what’s a better time than this for a Bong foodie with plenty of mouth-watering dishes to savour. Durgotsav pandal hoppers can be seen sampling delicious Bengali cuisines from the stalls around various Puja Pandals or various Bengali restaurants. From lip-smacking snacks to mouthwatering sweet dishes, Bengali food has something to offer all.
1. Phulko Luchi & Cholar Dal or Alur Dum
During 5 days of Durga Puja no Bengali’s breakfast is complete without fluffy, deep fried phulko luchis.They are made with maida ( white flour). Don’t mistake these with puris. They have a light golden texture. Luchis can be enjoyed with sumptuous Cholar Dal (channa dal) or Alur Dum. Sometimes a steaming hot Alur Torkari can add the spicy-ness to life. Why not start your Sashti morning with a plate of Phulko Luchi and steaming hot cholar dal?
2. Kati Rolls
The evenings of Durga Puja are not for home cooked food. This is a perfect occasion to tax your stomach with Bengali delicacies. Why not start with a Kati Roll? In Kolkata, there are various places to try out Kati rolls ( Hot Kati Rolls – Park Street or the Nizams ). However, if you are in Mumbai/ Navi Mumbai, you should definitely try Hanglas (Powai or Andheri) or A-one Kolkata Rolls at Vashi. But if you are an experimentative type, you should definitely try Kati rolls with a twist at “The Usual Place” Vashi ( near Palm beach road).
3. Kobiraji Cutlets
Available in various varieties like Fish Kobiraji, Mutton, Chicken or Prawns Kobiraji – these golden yellow dishes are a sheer treat to the eyes. A spicy cutlet wrapped with fluffy egg batter. A Shasti evening cannot end without a bite on these juicy non-veg delicacies. If you are undecided or have no clue where to get this in Navi Mumbai, then you must try “Iti Restaurant” in sector 2 Vashi Navi Mumbai. You can also find Kobiraji Cutlets at Bong Adda -Belapur or any Oh! Calcutta franchises in India. If you happen to be in Kolkata during Durgotsav then you must try Kobiraji Cutlets at Hatari and Mass snacks in Jodu Babu’s bazar.
4. Mutton Biryani
A Saptami Lunch is never complete without a large plate of authentic Kolkata Biryani. Yes, it’s way different than a Hyderabadi or a Lucknowi Biryani. Authentic Kolkata biryani will definitely have an equal mix of white and yellow basmati rice, two or three pieces of Mutton or Chicken, one or half slice of a boiled egg and a big piece of fried potato. If you still have space in your stomach, you should definitely try Chicken Chap with Rumali roti or Laccha parantha.
5. Maa-er Bhog
Maha Ashtami and without Maa-er bhog is just impossible. The main day of Durga puja sees an astounding footfall across all puja pandals. People queueing up for Anjali, prasad and then Maha Bhog. Don’t miss the 4 days Bhogs of different Durga Puja associations like Navi Mumbai Bengali Association or Vashi Cultural Association. They are not only divine but literally Yummy.
6. Phuchka & Churmur
After having a heavy meal ( Maha bhog of Ashtami) during Lunch there is actually very little space left in the stomach throughout the day. Hence the evenings see a lot of puja darshanarthis ( those who are seeking the blessings of Maa Durga) flocking around nearby Phuchkawalas for delicious Phuchkas and churmurs. Phuchkas are thin, small rawa balls which are filled with smashed potatoes and topped with chat masalas and tamarind juice. There is no text that can describe this fun filled delights. Most of the Bengali household don’t cook nonveg on an Ashtami day. However, people do have light dinner across various Bengali joints in and around the city. If you are around Navi Mumbai do check the Ashtami special dishes from Iti Restaurant in Vashi.
7. Chicken Chap & Lachha parantha
The Navami days are ideal for experimentations for the Bong foodies and Chicken Chap & Laccha Paranthas top the chart. The semi-spicy gravy of Chaps with succulent chicken pieces with crispy laccha paranthas seems “heaven in mouth” for food loving Bengalis. One should not miss the super combo of Bong Adda.
8. Shukto, Labda, Khichuri & Begun Bhaja (fried egg plant)
Almost every Bengali family will definitely have a Shukto, Labda and Khichuri day during the Durga Puja. This is not a substitute day for Bengali nonvegetarians but they equally like these three dishes. And Kichuri with Begun bhaja is a totally awesome experience. The egg plants are cut into thin slices and deep friend with besan cover.
9. Kosha Mangsho & Luchi
Can you imagine a Bengali household without Kosha Mansho and Luchi? Just impossible these two dishes are mandatory during any one of the Durga Puja Day. Previously joint family members used to all gather together to cook this dish collaboratively and it was such a fun time. As families are becoming more and more nucleus the fun time goes missing. But nevertheless the mouthwatering and juicy Goat mutton and crispy Luchis is a lethal combo.
10. Bengali Sweets
Bengalis are world famous for their Rasagollas and Sandeshes. However, in modern times people prefers more of pastries, chocolates, and low sweetened products. Hence the demand of super-sweetened Bengali mithais is seeing a downward curve. But during the Durga Puja days, no one bothers so much and the demand of these sweetmeat shops sky -rockets. Keeping the new age demand in mind, most of the bengali sweetmeat shops are crafting sugar less sandeshes and their demand is catching up fast. Also don’t forget Mishti Doi, Chomchoms and Pantuas of the world. They are equally out of this world experience.