Durga Puja 2019: Mumbai pandals serving best authentic Bengali food
Durga Pujo is the one time Mumbaikars can try authentic Bengali eats without flying to Kolkata. Here's a round up of the best eats served at pandals
Chingrir chop at Lokhandwala
The Durga puja in Lokhandwala has a celebrity angle since it’s backed by playback singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya. The place is renowned for its bhog, or the vegetarian feast that’s served on the four main days of the festival. But our eyes are instead centred on the food stalls that occupy one corner of the ground in the nether regions of Andheri where the pandal is located. There are all the usual culinary suspects, starting from jhaal muri, to puchka, to a rather oily looking Kolkata-style biryani. But we try a chingrir chop (Rs 200) from a catering service called Westfield. Now, a word here about chops. Kolkatans have a massive thing for them. And the one that would rank above all others is made from shrimp. Little bits of the crustacean lend each piece an irresistible flavour, and we are happy to report that the one we try hits the sweet spot. In fact, a trip all the way to this pandal is worth it just to try out the chop.
At Lokhandwala Durgotsav, B 702, Maharana Pratap Road, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri West.
Time 6 am to 2 am
Jhaal muri in Powai
On shoshti (sixth day of Durga Puja) afternoon, the complex inside the Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav is stranded. Come Saptami the crowds are expected to rush in, but the smell of shorshe (mustard) and the familiar clinking of a ladle on the tawa are just as strong. There are a number of stalls, ranging from textiles to handicrafts to amuse visitors, but the food haunts seem to be grabbing most of the attention. We sample the jhaal muri (Rs 100) from Rohit Caterers, a small stall offering authentic Bengali chai and the snack, which is like a Kolkata version of Mumbai’s sukkha bhel. We love the strong kick of jeera and mustard oil, but can’t fathom why the puffed rice mix has Bengal grams. It shouldn’t, ideally. At the adjacent Puja Caterers, there is a host of Bengali fare on offer including mochar chop, dal, and machcher jhol. However, both the fish fry (Rs 200 for two pieces), which is a tad smelly, and the chicken moghlai (Rs 200), a chicken and aloo stuffed paratha, are a let-down.
At Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav, MCGM Ground, opposite Jalvayu Vihar, adjacent to BEST Bus Terminus, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
Time Open 24 hours
A star-studded affair
This one is also known to be a celebrity haunt, thanks to patrons like Kajol and Rani Mukherjee’s families. The venue had shifted to an erstwhile tobacco factory in Vile Parle last year, but the pandal is now back to its original location in a Juhu hotel. But the layout has been changed; while the first thing that greeted you earlier was the stalls selling Bengali goodies, these have now been shifted to a place at the far end of the hotel’s grounds. The number of caterers who put counters has also decreased. Nonetheless, we try a plate of peyajer pakora (Rs 50), the Kolkata version of onion bhaji, from a stall run by a woman named Karabi Mandal, who’s put it up to try and raise money for Ramkrishna Mission, which she’s associated with. They are outstanding because each piece tastes like home food, without any excessive oil. But our experience with a plate of momos (Rs 150) and puchka (Rs 90) at another stall called Test of Kolkata (we are not sure if the nomenclature involves a spelling mistake or not) isn’t that great. Let’s just say that it fails the test.
At North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samity, Hotel Tulip Star, Juhu.
Time 6 am to 3 am
There is a quaint little community puja in Versova that is supported by the family of yesteryear Bollywood actor Joy Mukherjee. It’s the homeliest of the lot, and has shifted location this year to a spot bang opposite its earlier home. They usually don’t have food stalls there, but a few counters selling handicraft items. But there is a food truck called Fry Day stationed right outside it this year. It isn’t selling Bengali food, though. But we’ll still include it in this list to offer some variety to pandal-hoppers, adding a special recommendation for the peri peri cheese fries (Rs 150) that we try. The spicing was spot on.
At Shivranjani Sri Sri Durga Puja, Amit Nagar, next to Leaping Windows, Versova, Andheri West.
Time 6 am to 11 pm
Sweet news in Khar
Bengalis go nuts over sweets. That’s common knowledge. There are in fact so many different options you can try in Kolkata that the mind boggles thinking about it. There are hundreds of different types of sandesh alone, and people from all across Bengal will tell you that a particular sweet dish is made best in their region (there are even some items like Joynagarer moya, a type of laddoo made with puffed rice, that are named after a specific place). So, we end our pujo food trail with two of the most famous sweet dishes from Bengal, which, as you can guess, are roshogolla and mishti doi.
The place we get them from is an online delivery joint called Lovely Sweets that’s set up a stall at a charming Durga puja that Ramkrishna Mission organises in Khar. The clay pots of mishti doi are selling like hot cakes and the roshogollas are flying off the counter, too. And justifiably so, because they would give any confectioner even in Kolkata a run for their money for their taste.
At Sri Sri Durga Puja, 12th Road, Khar West.
Time 6 am to 11 pm
Ageing well with time
It was in 1929 that a group of Bengalis based in SoBo stood outside Victoria Terminus (now CSMT) waiting for a Durga idol to arrive all the way from Kolkata so that they could inaugurate their own puja in Mumbai. That humble affair has now turned into a grand affair called Bombay Durgabari Samiti, at Tejpal Hall in Grant Road. You can try the food from their stalls, too. But unlike the others, this one’s a wholly vegetarian affair keeping in mind the Gujarati population in the neighbourhood.
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe
Durga Puja 2019: Mouth-watering recipes by Homechef Soma for 'Durga Puja'