Announcing the Finely Chopped Bandra Durga Pujo Food Walk, 12 October2013, Saturday... Bandra Notun Polli Pujo, Bong Bong


All photos in the post taken at the Bandra Pujo in earlier years 

In a few days it will be the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year.

Too early for Christmas? Well for us Bengalis that has to be Durga Pujo. The five days of the year that we spend all year waiting for. The run up to the festival in honour of the Goddess Durga is marked by frenetic buying of new clothes while huge pandals or festive tents come up in preparation of the arrival of the murtis (images) of the goddess Durga. Once the festival starts the city comes to a standstill as its citizens come together in festive celebration.



By 'city' I mean Kolkata of course. For probashi (expat) Bengalis like Durga Pujo is often more about wistful nostalgia than creating fresh memories. Every year I would cling on to vestiges of the pujo spirit in Mumbai where between work and the passage of life one would try snatch in a few precious moments of Pujo joy in the local pandals. This would hold true for most ex-Kolkatans like me. The ones that didn't go back home for the pujos that is. Actually there were times when I did go back to Kolkata for the pujos but something was missing with my friends having moved out of the city and it just didn't feel the same.



Then things changed for me as one day I met the folks who arrange the Bandra Notun Polly Durga Pujo and suddenly the place began to feel like home to me and not just a food court of Bengali food and a repository of memories. It was a fresh start.

The Bandra Pujo is not the oldest nor the biggest nor the most famous Durga Pujo in Mumbai but it is the one where I have felt so at home over the years. It is organised by some of the warmest and nicest people I have come across.

In this Finely Chopped Bandra Durga Pujo walk I will try to share my Pujo memories and favourite Pujo food experiences with you.

The first half of the walk will be at the Bandra Pujo itself. The Pujo ground has an array of food stalls serving dishes for homesick Bengalis. You get a variety of Kolkata street food dishes, Bengali main courses & desserts (mishti). Years of experience here has taught me that the street food dishes, prepared in front of you, are your best bet here.



So our tastings here will include mutton rolls, fish chops, chicken cutlets and moghlai porothas that the streets of Kolkata are famous for. If we are lucky then we might even get a taste of the bhog or meal which is served to all who come to the pandal. This is normally a lunch thing but Kaushik, the food in charge at the Bandra Pujo, tells me that they might serve it this time in the evening on Ashtami when I plan the walk.



While at the Bandra Pujo we will also go to see then Durga pandal and get an insight into the religious aspect of the ceremony and then cross over to the open auditorium across the field where artistes perform songs, dances, skits for the revellers. I am told that there will be a Bengali rock and pop group the day we plan to walk.

We then walk across a few lanes for a specially curated meal for you at Bong Bong, Bandra's Bengali restaurant.

The day of the walk coincides with 'Ashtami', the most important day of the 5 day festival. Wearing new clothes is a must for all Bengalis on this day. In fact the best clothes bought for the pujos is reserved for this day. The only day of the Pujo when Bengalis try to eat vegetarian food.



Another important feature of Ashtami is the bhog or vegetarian lunch which is served after the prayers are offered ending with Anjali or the offering of flowers to the deity. The lunch consists of fries, vegetable curiries, khichudi (the rice and daal based dish), chutneys and sweets. This is served at the Pujo grounds and you have to queue up for it.



The folks at Bong Bong, the modern Bengali restaurant in Bandra, have been kind enough to agree to recreate a Pujo bhog for us for dinner and this will be the second half of our walk. Hopefully by then we would have walked off our street food binge at the pandal and have made place in our tummies for the ethereal and light vegetarian Pujo repast.



So write in to me if you are interested in the walk. The details are as follows:

Eats: Kolkata street food tastings at the Bandra Notun Polli Pujo followed by a special Ashtami bhog dinner at Bong Bong, Bandra. As the pujos at Mumbai are not close to each other it is not possible to cover more than one pandal in a walk


Duration: 3 hrs

Timings: 7 pm to 10 pm

Date: 12 October, 2013, Saturday, Ashtami

Costs: Rs 2,000 inclusive tastings & commentary

How to join: Mail at k.finelychopped@gmail.com or tweet to @finelychopped

Looking forward to spending my Ashtami evening with you

This is the link to an earlier post about the food at the Bandra Durga Pujo


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