Any Bengali will testify that the bhog prasad served at the pandals is one of the things that they look forward to the most. “Bhog prasad mainly comprises of khichuri, labra (a mixed vegetable dish) and mishti (sweet). The bhog is vegetarian and extremely tasty,” explains Ananya. Purabi says that the bhog is almost the same at most pandals. Khichuri (the Bengali version of khichdi) is an integral part of the bhog and is a mix of rice, lentils, spices and vegetables. This healthy recipe can easily be made at home as well, in case you can’t visit any of the pandals listed below.
Kathi rolls are one of Kolkata’s most popular street foods and are a permanent fixture at stalls in every pandal. Chicken or mutton kababs, sliced capsicum and onions are enveloped in crispy, flaky parathas and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. Every mouthful provides a melange of contrasting textures and flavours. It is also the perfect meal to have while on the go. No wonder then that it is so hard to resist these kathi rolls!
These brinjal fritters pair well with khichuri and are usually served with it. The dish itself is a play on contrasts: when broken open, the crispy exterior reveals the soft brinjal. These fritters can easily be made in a matter of minutes at home as well. Check out Chef Dipon Mukherjee’s recipe for Beguni.
Durga Pooja isn’t the time to count calories or worry about your cholesterol levels. One very good reason for this is chops. The Bengali version of cutlets features fish, chicken, mutton, egg or vegetables encased in a covering of bread crumbs. These crispy, crumb-fried oblong cutlets pair perfectly with kasundi or mustard sauce, which packs a punch. We promise you, it is hard to stop at just one!
Mumbaikars will probably find this street food staple similar to ragda. Dried white peas are used to make this spicy and sweet dish. This filling dish is usually served with puffed rice. There is also a non vegetarian version that is made with mutton.
This tangy and spicy version of pani puri is the only one Bengalis swear by. An extremely popular street snack, puchka is a must-have, especially during Durga Pooja. After all, who doesn’t love pani puri?
Kosha mangsho and luchi
Think of a Bengali mutton curry and kosha mangsho is probably the first (and only) name that will come to mind. Tender mutton pieces are drenched in a flavourful and spicy gravy. The curry is best paired with hot luchis or puris made of maida.
What is Durga Pooja without some biryani? Fans of Kolkata-style biryani say that once you’ve had it, you can’t go back to having any other kind. It is lighter than the other kinds of biryani available across the country and is influenced by the Awadhi (Lucknowi) style of cooking. The mutton or chicken biryani is aromatic, subtly spiced and boasts of succulent meat pieces. The best part about having this crowd pleaser? The browned potato or aloo that it comes with!
These egg and mince meat-filled pockets are a quintessential Durga Pooja dish. Moghlai porota is usually had by itself or with a spicy potato curry. We suggest though that these rectangular parcels of goodness are best enjoyed without counting any calories!
If it’s a Bengali feast you’re indulging in, then you can’t not end it with mishti or mithai. Whether it is rossogollas, sandesh, langcha (similar to gulab jamun) or mishti doi, there is enough and more to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Planning to go pandal hopping to try these delicacies? Here are some popular pandals you can visit:
1. Balkanji Bari: Tulip Star Hotel, Juhu
2. The Bengal Club Puja, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar West
3. Chembur Durga Puja Association: Chembur High School Ground, Swami Vivekananda Chowk, Chembur Naka
4. Powai Bengali Welfare Association: Hiranandani Gardens
5. Navi Mumbai Bengali Association at Vashi: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose sports ground, Sector 1A, Vashi
6. Lokhandwala Durgotsav: Lokhandwala Durga Puja Ground, Andheri West
7. Ramakrishna Math and Mission: Ramakrishna Math, 12th Road, Khar (W)
Which dishes would you want to try this Durga Pooja? Share your top preferences in the comment section below.