Mumbai festival: On the Durga Puja food trail across pandals in the city

Sep 26, 2017, 08:20 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Planning to go pandal-hopping this Durga Puja? From Kolkata-style phuchka to kosha mangsho and khichuri, here's your cut-and-keep guide to hogging across Mumbai pandals



Illustration/Uday Mohite

Juhu
For a royal luncheon
A must-visit on every pandal hopper's list is the air-conditioned venue of the high-profile North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja, which turns 70 this year. That's because of its variety of stalls, offering everything from Kosha Mangsho (mutton gravy) to Moghlai Porota and the popular Nolen Gurer Ice Cream made with date palm jaggery. "This year, we've put up 37 stalls, which offer Bengali, Chinese and Moghlai fare," says Debu Mukherjee, one of the organisers. The puja is also famous for its bhog, curated by Pratap Caterers and savoured by over 5,000 guests every day. "The seating is comfortable. Plus, you get to spot celebrities either enjoying the meal or serving it to you," says media professional Nimisha Naresh, who was offered sweets by Kajol and Rani Mukerji last year. "You have to wait in a queue for 30 to 45 minutes for your turn, but it's worth it."
TILL: September 30 (bhog timing: 12 pm to 5 pm)
AT: Tulip Star, VM Road, Juhu.

Also read - Mumbai Food: Why this lavish Bengali feast for Durga Puja is a must have

Bandra West
For comforting khichuri and labda
In its 45th year, the Notunpalli Sarbojonin Durgotsab Committee will rope in the services of Oriya chef Gobindo Babu, who gets helpers from his native town to prepare the bhog. "The Khichuri and Labda, a mixed vegetable gravy made with cauliflower, potato, pumpkin and cabbage, is the highlight of the bhog. They are simple dishes but highly comforting," says Anusree Bonnerjee, who runs a dance and music centre in Santacruz, and visits the pandal every year, even participating in the visarjan "where we dance all the way from Bandra to Juhu". The pandal houses about 10 stalls, which offer a variety of non-vegetarian fare including Prawn Cutlets, Fish Fries, Chicken Rolls, Egg Rolls and Mutton Biryani.
TILL: September 30 (prasad timing: 10.30 am)
AT: Municipal Garden, 24th Road, opposite National College, Bandra West.

Kajol at the Pujo held at Tulip Star, Juhu
Kajol at the Pujo held at Tulip Star, Juhu

Malad
For a taste of Kolkata
With a footfall of over 12 lakh guests every year, the Pujo organised by the Powai Bengali Welfare Association is the largest in the eastern suburbs. Besides the pandal, which is a tribute to India's architectural heritage, what draws Bengalis here is the authentic grub from Kolkata that the stalls offer. This includes Fish Kabiraji, a marinated fish fillet that's rolled in egg and bread batter and deep-fried, along with egg rolls, Moghlai Porota and the state's famous biryani. "You mainly find heavily spiced Hyderabadi versions in Mumbai. This year, the stalls will also offer Mughlai fare like Chicken Rezala and Chicken Chaap," says committee member Sourav Mitra. Ardent pandal-hopper Sohini Mitter seconds, "They have arguably the best food stalls. My top picks would be Fish Fry, Egg Roll and Moghlai Porota."
TILL: September 30 (bhog timing: 1 pm onwards)
AT: Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.

Also read - Mumbai festival: Best places to enjoy dandiya, durga puja and Ram Leela

Dadar
For chops and chomchom
When home chef Madhumita Pyne moved to Mumbai over a decade ago, she would eagerly await the Pujo because it meant visiting the pandal presented by The Bengal Club at Shivaji Park and bingeing on Kolkata's street fare in the heart of the city. "Back then, there were hardly any Bengali restaurants. So, I would relish Fish Chops, Prawn Cutlets, Mochar Chops (made with banana flower) and Moghlai Porota (stuffed with chicken or mutton keema). They still offer a variety of chops," says Pyne, who now finds these items through the year, but as a matter of habit, visits the pandal to tuck into them. At the 82-year-old pandal, you can also indulge in a variety Bengali sweets, including Mishti Doi, Kheer Kodombo, Chomchom, Rosogolla and Pantua (similar to gulab jamun). While at it, check out stalls that offer West Bengal's traditional terracotta jewellery and saree weaves like Taant, Kantha stitch and Baluchari.
TILL: September 30 (bhog timing: 1 pm onwards)
AT: MCGM Kreeda Bhavan, Shivaji Park, Dadar West.

Powai
For a taste of Kolkata
With a footfall of over 12 lakh guests every year, the Pujo organised by the Powai Bengali Welfare Association is the largest in the eastern suburbs. Besides the pandal, which is a tribute to India's architectural heritage, what draws Bengalis here is the authentic grub from Kolkata that the stalls offer. This includes Fish Kabiraji, a marinated fish fillet that's rolled in egg and bread batter and deep-fried, along with egg rolls, Moghlai Porota and the state's famous biryani. "You mainly find heavily spiced Hyderabadi versions in Mumbai. This year, the stalls will also offer Mughlai fare like Chicken Rezala and Chicken Chaap," says committee member Sourav Mitra. Ardent pandal-hopper Sohini Mitter seconds, "They have arguably the best food stalls. My top picks would be Fish Fry, Egg Roll and Moghlai Porota."
TILL: September 30 (bhog timing: 1 pm onwards)
AT: Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.

Also read: Top 8 must-visit Durga Puja pandals in Mumbai

Chembur
For kasundi-spiked fish curries
No Bengali worth his maachh-bhaat will accept a fish chop if it isn't served with the chartreuse-hued, tangy mustard sauce — kasundi. Not surprising then that Samiran Saha of Chembur-based Shahi Food Catering calls a cook from Kolkata to prepare the sauce fresh at the five-day Durga Puja organised by Chembur Durga Puja Association. "He sources ingredients from Kolkata, and the recipe is authentic. We also use it to cook the gravy of Katla Macher Kalia," he adds. Besides the chops, also savour Kolkata-style Egg Rolls by Only Rolls and Faloodas by Rassily Ice Cream Parlour — two of the 15 Chembur-based outfits will be present at the puja, which celebrates 63 years.
TILL: September 30 (bhog timing: 1.30 pm)
AT: Chembur High School Grounds, Swami Vivekananda Chowk, Chembur.

Vashi
For a whiff of Kolkata in the satellite city
With 35 stalls at the venue, there's lots on offer at the pandal themed on Odisha's Konark Temple. In its 38th year, the Puja has been organised by Navi Mumbai Bengali Association. "The must-tries include the typical Bengali breaded Bhetki Fry, deep-fried Kabiraji Cutlets and the Bhapa Mishti Doi. The Kolkata-style Biryani they serve has the right balance of potatoes," says Probal Mitter, a regular visitor. "We'll also have Punjabi, Chinese and Mughlai stalls that offer kebabs and curries," says the association's secretary, Shaibal Roy. Look out for the Biryani Guru and Taste of Ganges stalls.
TILL: September 29 (bhog timing: 1 pm onwards)
AT: Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Ground, Sector 1A, Vashi.

Walk that deconstructs the pandal
Explore the mythology and festive spirit at a Durga Puja pandal-hopping walk conducted by Deepa Nandi of Raahgeer Citywalks. She will discuss the relevance of stories and symbolism related to Goddess worship. "Most people don't know the significance behind Navratri celebrations, why the dhol is played at the fest, what the attire of the Goddess stands for and how it's important for women. We will also discuss tales about the other idols and their positioning next to the Goddess," 
says Nandi. The entry fee also includes a treat of Bengali sweets.
On: September 26, 7 pm 
Log on to: bit.ly/durgapujamumbai
Cost: Rs 2,222

And, there's more
* Snack on Kolkata's famous Phuchka, Jhal Muri and Bhaande Kore Chaa (tea served in clay pot) among other vegetarian delicacies at the city's oldest Durga Puja organised by Bombay Durga Bari Samiti celebrating 88 years this festive season. The team has also brought down 15 professional cooks from Kolkata to prepare the bhog.
AT: Mathuradas Vissinji Memorial Hall (next to Tejpal Auditorium), Tejpal Road.
* A non-profit initiative by Hillside Residents' Cultural and Welfare Association (HRCWA), the four-year-old Durgotsav is known for its bhog as well as stalls that offer Bengali, Indian and continental fare at pocket-friendly rates.
AT: BMC Ground, opposite Bhoomi Valley, Thakur Village, Kandivali East.
* The no-frills puja by Ramakrishna Math is known for its traditional rituals as well as typically Bengali treats like the Singara, a version of samosa stuffed with potato and cauliflower, and Lobongo Lotika, a sweet flaky parcel sealed with a clove.
AT: 12th Road, Khar West.

What's in a bhog?
The bhog is an elaborate vegetarian spread offered to the Goddess across three days — Saptami (September 27), Ashtami (September 28) and Navami (September 29) — and the same menu is had by devotees too. The star of the bhog is Khichuri, a green gram preparation cooked in ghee and flecked with vegetables and spices.

It's accompanied by gravy dishes that change on a daily basis. These include Cholar Dal (Bengal gram curry), Labda (a mix vegetable curry with Bengali panch phoron spice mix), Aloo Dum and Aloo Phoolkopi. In your plate, you will also find deep-fried and crisp Begun Bhaja (fried eggplant), Aloo Bhaja (fried potato) along with tomato and date chutney and sweets like Payesh and Rosogolla.


You may also like - Photos: Top 10 offbeat dishes to try in Mumbai
Photos: Top 10 offbeat dishes to try in Mumbai

Go to top