If you happen to visit CR Park during Durga Puja, you will forget you are in Delhi. A mini Bengal, home to both East and West Bengalis, CR Park or Chittaranjan Park is also Delhi's epicentre of Pujo action — including all the action around food. From ghugni to chop, rolls to phuchka, mishti to shingara, there is so much food available here that a day is too little to experience it. So, we bring to you a list of absolute essentials to try out this Durga Puja if you are in Delhi.
1. Phuchka and churmur
No Durga Puja is complete without phuchka, the quintessential Bengali gol gappa that is sour, tangy, spicy and subtle all at the same time. If you crave Calcutta’s phuchka, CR Park is your go-to place. Especially during Durga Puja, when the entire neighbourhood is teeming with phuchkawalas. Stop by any corner and you’re sure to get a taste of Kolkata. But for the finest and most chatpata phuchka, the haunt remains the C Block market where Raju Chaat stall makes the finest phuchka. They have a distinct flavour of tamarind, roasted cumin, green chilli and mashed and spiced potato. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you’d also find some gondhoraj lemon in the water. While there, do not forget to sample churmur, the dry phuchkathat makes every pujo hopper go weak in their knees
2. Rolls and chop
What is Durga Puja without bhaja or deep-fried food? And the king of deep-fried Bengali food remains the chop. Fish, mutton, chicken, vegetable, egg — you name it, they have it. But the roll and Mughlai porota come a close second. In CR Park, you get to taste both, and some may say they are even better than Kolkata. Well, we will leave it to you to decide after you get a taste of the famous egg-chicken, double-egg, double-chicken and double-mutton rolls at the Pujo pandals. While the chops — crispy and soft at the same time — are to be eaten with hot and spicy mustard or kashundi, the rolls pack enough punch on their own and need no accompaniment, except the quintessentially Bengali Thums Up maybe. The stalls inside the pandals boast an excellent variety of rolls but the best ones are available at market number 1.
3. Chinese chaat
There is chaat and then there is Chinese chaat, an invention so local to CR Park that even Kolkata doesn’t know about it. Imagine a cart filled with noodles, fried rice, chilly chicken, chicken lollipop, honey chilli potato, vegetable Manchurian, hot and sour chicken and a dozen other Chinese dishes that you have never heard of. Now imagine being able to mix and match all of it on your plate! During the puja evenings, when long queues and endless walks sap all your energy, a plate of Chinese chaat (made the way you like) is what you need. Spicy, oily, carb-rich and oh so delicious, this chaat will give you all the energy and motivation for pandal hopping all night long!
4. Ghugni and jhalmuri
Ghugni is not just a dish, it is an emotion. The hot, spicy, runny preparation — with a generous helping of Bengali garam masala and chunks of melt-in-your-mouth mutton — is a dish you do not want to miss on a Durga Puja food trail. Generally available in the evening, it comes topped with green chilli and lime juice — another Bengali favourite. While there may be many ghugni sellers in and around the pandals, you find the finest ghugni at Shyamal Barua’s stall at market number 1. The other quintessential treat, jhalmuri, is also an unmissable feature of CR Park. The muri, or puffed rice mix, spiced up with raw mustard oil, green chilli, lemon, potatoes, onions and peanuts sets your mouth on fire and yet you cannot have enough of it.
5. Mangsho-luchi, maach-bhaat, chingri malai curry
A Bengali food walk can never be complete without a taste of the iconic kosha mangsho, murgir jhol and maach — the ever-loved Bengali mutton, chicken and fish curries. Luckily, in the past few years, many small and big restaurants have opened up in CR Park that offer home-style as well as celebratory meals. A hearty meal of mutton-luchi, chingri malai curry and pulao, or a thali with an assortment of daal, vegetables, bhajas, greens, postor bada and multiple kinds of fish, is a great way to learn about Bengali home-style meals and savour the cuisine’s subtle yet diverse flavours. The best places for these meals are Aami Bangali and Maa Taara restaurants and the many stalls inside the puja pandals.
6. Rosogulla, sondesh, cham-cham and mishti doi
You cannot not have mishti, or sweets, on a pujo walk. While rasgulla is a hot favourite, there is a whole variety of Bengali sweets that you must sample at CR Park — and trust us when we say they are every bit as good as Kolkata. A course of mishti begins with sondesh, goes on to rosogulla and finishes with a large helping of the caramelised, rich, sweet and very delicious mishti doi with a bit of cham-cham, ledikeni, jolbhora and kacha golla thrown in between. And if your mouth gets too mishti, there is always the next-door shop to indulge in some shingara, phuchka, bhaja or even another roll! The finest sweets are found in Annapurna Sweets and Loknath Sweet Shop, both outside the Kalibari Temple in market number 4.