Pujo Bingeing: What To Eat When Pandal Hopping
Care to eat some mishti this Durga Puja? Photo: India Food Network
Durga puja means food. There are no two ways about it.
It's that time of the year when Bengalis around the world look forward to binge on some delicious food for four days. Apart from who's wearing what and dating whom, it is the food that becomes a hot topic. Pandal hopping is therefore a must to experience the real deal.
But, any idea what you should eat during Durga Puja? This guide will tell you about some of the most popular dishes associated with the Bengali festival. You cannot miss out on eating them at the food stalls stationed at a pandal, a makeshift structure that houses the idol.
Kolkata roll: Enough has been spoken about the famous Kolkata roll - a wrap made of maida or refined flour that is stuffed with fillings ranging from egg, chicken or mutton and served with sauces, onions, lime juice and chaat masala. Bengalis do not believe in vegetarian rolls, so don't expect them to be available especially during this time of the year. Make sure to hit a pandal, which has a roll stall or counter.
Bhog: In Bengali, bhog typically is an offering to the Gods. For the uninitiated, it is the only vegetarian dish associated with Durga Puja! It is a simple meal featuring khichudi or a rice and lentil preparation, begun bhaaja or eggplant fry, laabra or a mixed vegetable, sweet tomato chutney, and payesh or rice kheer. Queuing up for bhoger khichuri is a normal affair.
Mishti: You cannot compromise on the amount of mishti or sweets you consume during pujo. Frankly, no one keeps a count either. So, tuck into the roshogolla, sandesh, langcha and a variety of sweets available at the food stalls during this time. You can go on a detox diet after it's all over.
Maacher chop: Maacher chop or fish croquette is commonly eaten as an evening snack back in Bengal. Find them during pujo at the food stalls served with either tomato sauce or kashundi (mustard sauce). Stuffed with bhetki or any deboned sweet water fish, it is then fried with a coating of egg wash and bread crumb. Best enjoyed with some gorom chaa or coffee!
Kolkata biryani: What's pujo without some mutton biryani? Bengalis do like their chicken biryani too, but nothing beats an occasion like Durga Puja than a good, meaty biryani. Most metros apart from West Bengal such as Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bangalore have a biryani stall during the festival. If you do not like the greasy, masala-spiked biryanis, this should be your pick.
Luchi and alur dom: Our love for luchi or puris made of refined flour is matchless. Luchi is a Bengali's sweetheart, mostly eaten with alur dom (Bengali for dum aloo) or kosha mangsho (mutton in a thick gravy). No pujo is complete without a dose of fluffy luchis mopped up with either of the dishes.
Phuchka: If you have been to Bengal, you must have seen phuchkawallas stationed alongside narrow lanes and bylanes usually after sundown feeding people. To fuel all the pujo adda, you need non-stop phuchka. Don't miss it during a pandal visit.
Chowmein: After roll and phuchka, a Bengali needs some Chinese food. And what better way to celebrate the cuisine that made Kolkata famous than by eating some chowmein aka noodles. Look for a chowmein stall at a pandal to get a taste of real Kolkata Chinese food.