Feasting @ Mela (Fair) grounds…

Anybody who has grown up in the city of joy and has been a regular in the mela (fair) circuit will fondly remember the line of food stalls that adorned these fairs.  Most of us who had been to book fairs in Maidan area before it shifted to Milan Mela ( opposite Science City) would remember queuing up for their favourite Benfish products at Book fair.  After I finished my quota of buying books, I hated waiting with my parents at UBI auditorium listening to panel discussions or dragging my feet along with their snail paced stroll around the little magazine stalls. My mother sensing my irritation would whisper into my ears that the Benfish stall is another 5 min walk and I would cheer up. Reminiscing about childhood and Kolkata book fair another blogger proudly announced to a T.V reporter that she came to book fair for ice-cream.

Read her post http://roadtoneverland.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/why-i-dont-love-books/ as she fondly shares her experience.

Similarly I never missed a trip to the Durga Puja at Park Circus Maidan, Kolkata for the sheer joy of attending a mela(fair).  What I love about Durga Puja in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi are the food stalls. The variety of food that one gets to gorge on is a pure delight for an epicurean.  In Delhi, Bijoli Grill had replaced my craving for Benfish products.  I made it a point to call up Bijoli Grill to figure out their stall. I wish Bijoli Grill served their ice-cream soda.

This Puja I am looking forward to an interesting stall called Bento Bong. As its facebook page claims, the idea of the stall stemmed from a lazy lunch of friends and transformed into a business venture.  Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar, who wears many a hats (linguist, photographer and a trained kitchen hand) is a one woman army.  As I jokingly remind her about the impending thesis submission she says Bento Bong will help her to put together her act. She takes out a sample of Bentobong box from her backpack and her eyes light up as she passionately weaves a tale of Bengali food that she will be cooking and serving along with two other helping hands. The meals will be served in handy boxes.

Kicking off on 9 October three Bento boxes will be available in the following combinations:-

Snack Bento – I ( Fish Fry, Veg Cutlet, French Heart Cookie, Salad, Kasundi) – Rs 120

Snack Bento –II ( Prawn Orley, Fish Fry, Veg Cutlet, French Heart Cookie, Salad, Kasundi)- Rs 180

Meal Bento ( Rice, Moong Dal, Bora, GaldaChingriMalaiCurry,DoiRui, Mishti Pan)- Rs 320

As she gives me a tour of the stall in Co-operative Ground, Chittaranjan Park explaining to me her plans, a surprise waits for me.  She asks for two chairs and we sit in the empty stall. She opens a flap and takes out a Bento Box . Anumitra says, “Try it out”.

I open the box with care and find a gift of “fish fry”- a nice generous fillet of fish coated with breadcrumbs sitting pretty in front of me. The juicy, moist pieces of fillet fill my mouth and secretly I yearn to taste the Meal Bento where my favourite GaldaChingrir Malai Curry – a prawn preparation in coconut milk will be served. I leave the Co-operative Ground with content and intention of getting back to try Bento Bong and other food stalls in the vicinity of Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi.

For more details and updates visit Bento Bong page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BB.bentobong).



Chop, Cutlet and More…

Today I met a friend briefly in the corridors of University. Commenting on my interests in life she wished me good bye with an exclamation Bhalo theko (Stay well) with Machh, Mishti and More (Fish, Sweets and More). She was recollecting about her latest trek to Chittaranjan Park Market from where she picked up Lal Shak ( a type of greens which we chop and cook with a tempering of garlic, ajwain and finish it off with a drizzle of poppy seeds. Please add garlic after you hear the crackling sound of dry red chilly!!!), Morola Machch/ Mola Carplet ( a finger –sized shape fish found in rivers, some varieties are also know as Gang- Morola and the explanation is its origins in the Ganges…) and much more. For Morola Recipes visit the following link


Despite our mutual allergy of people calling us “Bongs”, the affection for all things seemingly Bengali gets more attractive when you move out of the comforts of home. After I shifted to Delhi I missed the chotomachch ( small sized fish) that I  hated as a kid.  As I long to go back home in a week’s time I look forward to a generous sized portions of all sorts of dishes that could be prepared with Morola Machch ( from fries, to mustard curry to chutney with tamarind pulp). Slurrrpp!!!

Such cravings for Bengali food and food items have led to niche markets in every city across India and particularly Delhi. Chittaranjan Park credits with selling food items, fish, vegetables, sauces, oils, spices and everything “authentic” that should make its way for a “Bengali” kitchen at an above average price. But we don’t seem to mind. After all phish, phood and phoodball are our passion(s) and we live by it…  Market No. 1 and Market No. 2 claims to house some of the popular eating joints serving Bengali food. I will dedicate a separate post on sweets and will list of must have/s of sn(e)cks in Market No. 1, 2 and 3. Spare me if I forget to add your list of favourite/s from these three Markets.

My five top picks

1. Maa Tara … (Market No.2)

Anybody who wanted their simple fare of veg and non veg thali or exotic vegetable dishes would brave waiting in the queue for a generous helping of Mochar Tarkari,  Fish Curry with a generous layer of oil staring at you and some runny alu posto. Despite its flaws I continue to adore and love the food of Maa Tara.  Every time you have surprise guests and you want to take a break from cooking chores “Dial Maa Tara” and they won’t disappoint you.

USP:  Simple, delicious and moderately priced.

2. Kolkata Biryani House (Market No.1)

Kolkata Biryani House: For all those who love meat, potato and egg in their Biryani, please try out their Biryani. Their Chicken and Mutton Rolls are good as well. Though they have started serving south Indian breakfast I have not tried it.

USP: Best Chicken/ Mutton Biryani. Warning : Do not order via Just eat. Last time they messed up an order at a friend’s place.

3. Ashirbad Caterers and Snack Corners( Market No.3)

Are you a fan of Fish Fry and Mochar Chop? Head to this shop where both these items are sold at Rs 10 each. This shop is open from 10am -11pm and sells rolls, cutlets and fries. My favourite picks are Fish Fry, Fish Chop, and Mochar chop. A party at my house is incomplete without Fish Fry and Mochar Chop. Manipuri Friend of mine treks down at least thrice a month to savour their delicacies. Need I say more!!!!! I am quite a fan of their simple egg rolls.

USP: Tasty and moderately priced.

4. Phuchka

Time and again I have wondered about how semolina is used to prepare this item in Northern India and  how atta ( wheat based flour) is used in West Bengal and Eastern parts of India to prepare this savoury dish. You will like Phucka across any C.R. Park stall if you like water prepared from tamarind pulp, green chillies, kagchi lebu ( a special variety of lemon). Best kick is the phucka with mashed potato stuffing with lots of tamarind pulp, green chillies and a squeeze of lime …. Yummmmm…

5. Tea

If you miss you Lemon Tea served in tiniest possible plastic cups back in West Bengal, head to a tea stall in Market No. 2 who makes the most amazing lemon tea with rocksalt and lime.

If you want all of these, you have to hit the den of Bengali food in New Delhi- Chittaranjan Park.

Nearest Metro Station : Hauz Khas  and Nehru Place.

Please memorise the market no.s you have to head before stepping into your vehicle as people use Market No./s for local navigation…