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Home » My Kolkata » Durga Puja Special » Phuchka to fine-dine: My Kolkata team picks their must-have Durga Puja food

Durga Puja Food

Phuchka to fine-dine: My Kolkata team picks their must-have Durga Puja food

Biryani, Mughlai paratha and an a la Kiev also make an appearance in this curated guide to Kolkata eateries

My Kolkata Web Desk | Published 19.10.23, 08:48 PM

Durga Puja means Kolkata is buzzing 24x7. Among the many joys of pujo — and probably the best of all — is the food. And during the festive season, there are options galore! There are roadside delights like chaat, masala Thums Up and more, as well as finer options and new restaurants to check out. As lovers of pujo and food alike, team My Kolkata got together to list our favourite dishes that are must-haves during this happiest of times.

Mutton Biryani

Where to find it?: Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Park Street (cannot be any other Shiraz outlet in Kolkata!)

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Yum factor: The balanced flavours of the biryani — neither too hot nor spicy nor too dry — along with the tenderness of the meat. Not to mention the most delectable aloo money can buy!

First experience: Around the time I first developed teeth strong enough to bite and chew and a stomach resilient enough to cope with Mughlai cuisine. Or, more accurately, whenever my mother first let me.

A pujo memory of the dish: Mutton biryani from Shiraz is a Vijaya Dashami tradition at home. If I am in Kolkata, which I invariably am during pujo, this is a must — come rain, indigestion or the most gob-smacking Continental food plans by friends, the biryani shall be eaten. After the heart sinks on seeing empty pandals on Dashami, this is the one thing that can provide some respite.

—Priyam Marik

Mughlai Paratha

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Where to find it?: Honestly, I’m not picky about the place. It has to be a chicken-egg Mughali Porota with a flaky outer crust that has a crunch, a well-seasoned, generous filling and be served with alur torkari, spicy ketchup and salad. I’ve enjoyed the ones from Mitra Cafe, and had good ones from the shop near Dakshinapan, and also from street stalls.

Yum factor: It is a quintessential festive street food pick. Plus, crunchy meets spice meets soft meat is always a winning combo. You have a Mughlai Porota when you want to celebrate something, and can eat guilt-free.

First experience: My first taste of the dish was not in Kolkata, but in Mumbai during Durga Puja in the 1990s.

A pujo memory of the dish: Growing up as a probashi Bangali, there was a time when Durga Puja was the only time when we would get Bengali or Kolkata street-food picks like chop, Mughlai Porota and the Kolkata roll. There would be stalls set up at Durga Puja grounds (think Maddox Square-type setting) that would sell these. And I always picked a Mughlai Porota, so for me, one of the tastes of Durga Puja is a Mughlai Porota.

— Rumela Basu

Bhetki a la Kiev with Radhuni Butter and Aloo Mash

Where to find it?: Sienna Store & Café

Yum factor: It’s a sublime plate of food; the crumb is perfect, the fish is perfect, and the radhuni butter that oozes out when you cut into it is the stuff of a la Kiev dreams. Second, the fact that I need no longer associate this dish with only chicken.

First experience: In the last few days, this dish is a part of Sienna’s 2023 Pujo menu. Pujo is all about making new memories

A pujo memory of the dish: Having grown up in Kolkata, some of my earliest memories are associated with Chicken a la Kiev, which my family would eat at the clubs and places like the erstwhile Sky Room. At present, Trincas, under Anand Puri, makes what I think is the best Chicken a la Kiev in town. When I had the Bhetki a la Kiev at Sienna, I felt core memories being unlocked, and I felt inexplicable joy, apart from the fact that it’s an objectively great plate of food. Now I have a favourite Chicken a la Kiev and a favourite Bhetki a la Kiev in Kolkata, and the latter has created a new happy memory associated with pujo.

— Nayantara Mazumder

Chicken Firdausi Kebab

Where to find it?: Mocambo, Park Street

Yum factor: Well, everything! It’s a rather unusual kebab — a sort of roulade of chicken strips with a stuffing of keema. Not chunky kebabs like Reshmi or Tikka, not melt-in-the-mouth like Galawti, not even like Sheekh Kebab. The keema stuffing and the chicken pinwheel complement each other in texture and taste.

First experience: Maybe 10 to 15 years ago, during lunch with office friends. This kebab, if I am not wrong, is not on their regular menu. I had ordered it from a special menu they placed on the table. On later visits, I have asked for it and have been served.

A pujo memory of the dish: I have a very special memory about this, but not one linked to Puja. My colleagues from one of my previous offices, where I worked for 11 years, had given me a surprise farewell at Mocambo. And among the food ordered was Firdausi Kebab, which I had come to love from my previous visits and some of my colleagues remembered.

— Sohini Bhattacharya

Beef Sutli Kebabs

Where to find it?: Adam's Kabab Shop, Zakaria Street

Yum factor: The melt-in-the-mouth, delicious minced beef with perfect flavours and rich aroma.

First experience: Back in 2009, while in college, I explored the food gem hubs of Kolkata, taking walking tours all by myself on the weekends and holidays.

A pujo memory of the dish: It is a staple for house parties during Puja, and there are relentless attempts to replicate it at home as well.

— Pooja Mitra

Biryani and Tandoori chicken

Where to find it?: Haji Shaheb, Behala

Yum factor: Since long before Arsalan, Aminia, Oudh 1590 made an entry in Behala, Haji Shaheb has been our go-to place for biryani, and eventually rolls and kebabs.

First experience: I probably first tried the biryani when I was in school, in class IV or V

A pujo memory of the dish: This restaurant is popular in Behala and is located near Behala's big-ticket pujos like Behala Natun Dal and Debdaru Phatak. Sometime during my high-school days, I was out pandal-hopping with a group of friends. We wanted to pick up their popular Tikki Roll but the queue was massive, so much so that we’d have to wait longer than we did at the pandal. So, we ended up dining in and enjoyed their Biryani and Chicken Tandoori.

— Jaismita Alexander

Smoked Lamb

Where can we find it?: Tung Fong, Park Street area

Yum factor: Smoky flavour, the texture of the meat and portion size. It melts in the mouth and is heavenly

First experience: I probably tasted this for the first time about a decade ago

A pujo memory of the dish: This dish is a staple for when dining at Tung Fong throughout the year, Puja included, both with family and friends.

— Anujit Mitter

Rocket Phuchka

Where can we find it?: Pravesh Pani Puri in Alipore

Yum factor: It’s difficult to point out the exact yon factor for a phuchka but the spice level is sure to leave a lasting impression. It is a phuchka filled with red and green chillies and the alu filling also has some chilli powder and salt. You have to be brave to eat this and you have to eat it in one bite.

First experience: I was probably in Class XII and taking a break from study time, so I decided to try this ‘rocket phuchka’ my sister kept raging about. After two of them, I forgot my entire syllabus. That exam sure went well

A pujo memory of the dish: I almost lost my memory after having this phuchka. The heat will make your eyes and mouth water with the instant hit of jhaal. But I do remember going back another time right before Puja, and I met with the same fate but at least didn’t cry… in public.

— Urvashi Bhattacharya

Last updated on 19.10.23, 10:17 PM
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