By Chaitali Das
“Good food” is a word that defines the Bengali way of life. And Bengali Durga Puja is a festival that reflects the Bengali way of life in every essence. So, food and Durga Puja (festival) are somehow inseparable. During this five day long festival, even the most dedicated women of the hearth put aside their kitchen duties and enjoy the festival. And that means, you can have as much food adventure outside! While most of the Durga Puja pandals arrange for food stalls from noted restaurants, but then the belly of a Bong is hard to please! So, we decided to take you on a trip through some of the noted Durga puja pandals of Kolkata. And not only that, we would also give you a good idea about the best food available in the nearby vicinity of these pandals. Before you start pandal hopping, here is a good-to-know list of places to taste the best food during goddess Durga Puja.
Situated in North Kolkata, this is one of the oldest Durga puja associations in the city. The Durga idol here is always “Ekchala” meaning she is portrayed together with her children. Her ornaments are always made of silver foil (called “Daker Saaj”) and the idol has large and elongated eyes, giving it in an old time look. A look back into history, tells us that the Bagbazar Sarbojonin’s puja was started way back in 1924 and during its early days the puja was linked to Swadeshi Movement. It is also noteworthy here, that Subhas Chandra Bose helmed the Puja committee in 1938-39!
Where to eat?
- Golbari: Situated right at the Shyambazar Five-Point crossing, this eatery is famous for its Kosha Mangsho (mutton cooked in spice over a slow heat) and paratha.
- Mitra Café: Located near Shovabazar Metro Station, Mitra Café is especially popular for its fish roll and Kabiraji (a fried cutlet covered with a crispy egg).
- Arsalan: Further towards Hatibagan, Arsalan should be your destination if you love Biryani and kababs.
- Sutanati Junction: If you want to taste traditional Bengali dishes, then stop by at Sutanati Junction. It is situated nearby Arsalan.
Started in 1948, this Durga Puja pandal has always been famous for its gorgeous lighting. The theme of the College Square pandal is always traditional and complimented well by glamorous lights. A special attraction of this pandal are the lighting shows that go on around the College Square swimming pool. College Square always pulls the crowds of Pandal hoppers with its artistic Durga idol.
Where to eat?
- Paramount: If you are thirsty after the Pandal hopping toil, quench your thirst at this century old establishment. Don’t forget to order “Daab Sarbat”, a heavenly concoction made with tender coconut water.
- Putiram: Want to catch a quick snacks? Well, Putiram would delight you with some freshly fried Kachori, Sabzi and sweets.
- College Street Coffee House: Coffee House is the den of most creative minds in the city. But this restaurant, only a stone’s throw away from College Square, is equally famous for its cold coffee, cutlets and sandwiches.
- Dilkhush: Situated right at the College Street junction, this is a cult favourite place to have “Kabiraji” or “Mughlai Paratha”. People swear by the taste of Mughlai Paratha here.
Deshopriya Park Sarbojanin
One of the biggest Durga pujas of South Kolkata, this Puja is known for its innovative pandal design. Majestic and grand are two words that will come to mind when you visit the Deshopriya Park Sarbojanin’s Pandal here. Last year, they created the famous White Temple of Thailand. The theme this year is a grand palace of Bengal and promises to be a show stopper, just like every year. The idols here are bear resemblance to the overall theme of the Pandal. They are very artistic.
Where to eat?
- Zeeshan: Want to grab a quick bite during your Pandal hopping expedition? Well, stop by at Zeeshan and taste some delicious chicken or egg rolls.
- Mandarin: Okay, so you like the Chinese cuisine. Worry not, Mandarin is there to satiate your cravings. This restaurant in Kolkata offers the best variety of Chinese delicacies.
- Hotel Homely Raj: There are many Kolkatans who just cannot have enough of the South Indian dishes. And Hotel Homely Raj is their go-to destination for a sumptuous meal. The restaurant also serves yummy pizzas.
- Lake Mall: Lake Mall is not only a lavish shopping mall, near Deshopriya Park, it also has a very good food park. You can get dishes from various cuisines all under one roof at this place.
Started in 1935, Maddox Square’s Durga Puja is one of the oldest pujas in town. A visit to this pandal is all about enjoying the ambience. Maddox Square’s puja truly encompasses the community feel that a Durga Puja is supposed to have. People come here not to admire the traditional idol (which is “Ekchala” and in “Daker Saaj”) and the Pandal (which is designed like a temple courtyard). But what is most enjoyable about a visit to this pandal is the time you spent with your accompanying friends at the nearby park. Maddox Square is the favourite hangout place for the youngsters of the time, during Durga Puja. Fitted with glamorous lights, this is a must visit during the Pandal hopping expedition.
Where to eat?
- Jai Hind Dhaba: If you like North Indian food, Jai Hind Dhaba should be a great place to have lunch or dinner.
- Bhojohari Manna: If you are craving for traditional Bengali food, then nothing can compete with the servings at Bhojohari Manna. Their Daab Chingri (Prawns cooked in coconut water) and Polao (flavoured rice) are a must taste.
- Ammini: A fan of South Indian cuisine? Ammini would quench your food cravings perfectly. It offers a long list of delicious dishes. But the show stealers here are Kerala parotta and Egg Appam.
- Bon Appetit: This café is famous for its unique dessert and shakes. Want to re-energize your body? Visit Bon Appetit.
So, make this Durga Puja the most delicious event ever!