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The goddess of feasts

Durga Puja is always about feasting and home chefs in Kolkata and Mumbai are putting together spreads featuring classics as well as lesser known dishes

Iti Aunty’s special vegetarian thaala.
Iti Aunty’s special vegetarian thaala.

Iti Aunty’s special thalis

A home-style Durga Puja feast immediately conjures up images of a genial-looking Bengali matriarch whipping up large cauldrons of cholar dal, alur dum and an endless train of freshly fried luchi. From 24-30 September, a similar Bengali-style home-cooked feast will be featured on the menus of Monkey Bar, Kolkata and Delhi. Designed by Iti Misra, a retired airline executive and home chef with a penchant for authentic Bengali dishes, this specially curated thaala (set meal) will feature staples as well as lesser-known Bengali dishes. The thaalas come in three variants—vegetarian, chicken and seafood—each with different mains. “During Durga Puja, people don’t want to eat at home, so the home kitchen has come to the restaurant. This is an all-day menu in keeping with the mood of pandal-hopping which stretches for hours on end," says Misra. Guests can come in and have a comforting meal of shukto (mixed vegetable preparation with bitter gourd) and ghee bhaat (steamed rice with ghee) and then move on to the fish and meats. She has created an interesting spin on the pujo favourite of khichuri by adding crispy dried shrimp or dried mourola (a Bengali variant of anchovy) for texture. There is also the legendary “plastic chutney", a sweet-and-sour chutney made with strips of raw papaya and flavoured with Bengali aamaada (a variety of ginger with the aroma of mango). Besides familiar dishes such as bhaapa chingri (steamed prawns in pumpkin leaves), and some Bengali staples like chicken kosha and dhokar dalna, one will get to taste some of Misra’s heirloom dishes like the fish kochuri (a fried puri with bhetki fish filling).

The Monkey Bar, Kolkata and Delhi; price, Rs999, Rs1,199 and Rs1,299 for the vegetarian, chicken and seafood thaalas, respectively. Each thaala serves two.

Dashain set meal.

From Dashain to Dashami

This festive season, a special menu in Mumbai showcases the best of Bengali and Nepali spreads. Mumbai-based chef Gitika Saikia will showcase the food of the Nepali community in Assam on the occasion of Dashain, Nepal’s most auspicious festival dedicated to the goddess Durga and coinciding with Bengal’s Durga Puja. Saikia will be collaborating with another home chef, Pia Promina Dasgupta Barve, who will design the Bengali part of this festive takeaway menu. The Nepali spread will feature dishes like sel roti (a ring-shaped, rice-flour bread, which is made only on special occasions), wo bara (a flat lentil pancake) served with alu or karela ko achaar (a spicy potato or bitter gourd sabzi) and the mutton-based khasi ko masu. Barve’s Bengali specials will feature dishes like alur bora (potato fritters), kumror chechki (a pumpkin preparation), enchorer kalia (spicy jackfruit curry), mangshor gota moshla curry (mutton cooked in whole spices), and golda chingri malai curry (jumbo prawns in a coconut-based curry), followed with a pineapple chutney.

The menu is available only on 7 October. Book your orders on 9820445990, or mail; price 700 each for Bengali and Nepali vegetarian set meals. The fish and meat dishes can be ordered as add-ons.

Bhetki fish kalia.

Royal Bengal Feast in Mumbai

Mumbai-based home cooks Rhea Mitra-Dalal of Euphorhea Kitchen and Madhumita Pyne of Insomniac Cook have come up with a special home delivery menu for Durga Puja and Navratri, which will feature 24 dishes. A host of traditional dishes are on offer, from vegetarian classics like narkeler bora (coconut fritters), labra (mixed vegetables) to non-vegetarian favourites like posto murgi (chicken with poppy seeds), alu phulkopi diye chingri (shrimp with potatoes and cauliflower), ilisher tel jhol (hilsa curry), kacha lonka mangsho (mutton with green chillies) and more. “Then there are some dishes that people might not be familiar with. For instance, Pyne is making a hilsa pulao while Rhea has also been digging out recipes from vintage Bengali cookbooks and has discovered a mangsher malai curry (mutton in a spicy coconut-based gravy), which will also be on the menu.

To place orders, call 9820904694/ 9892803506. Delivering across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane from 27-30 September.

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