Thursday, December 24, 2009

Farmer's Brunch: Heartland Haryana, Hissar

A bunch of guys with Jeeps headed to the Heartland of Haryana, Hissar. Haryana has the GT Road, the Punjabised version of Haryana with Panipat Karnal, Ambala and there is the real Wild West Texas. Jhajjar, Beri, Rohtak. That’s a lot of Ghee, Beedis, and Blankets for entertainment. We were traveling in a Honda CRV, a Bolero and the good old trustworthy MM550 very nicely modified to suit the terrain.

We drove in the still of the night, stayed at the Hunting Lodge as friends, Sanjay, Abhijeet and others fondly called it.A Hunting lodge is a place which lacks a womans, touch which makes it a home. Next morning at the crack of dawn, we were dancing with the wolves. And at sunrise when the shadows grew short and the birds were resting and the canteens ran dry we got, Hungry. We headed to the Chuck wagon; in this case it was a Haveli at village Dabra. Abhijeet’s maternal grandfathers place. The 40 feet high door with metal and wooden embellishments spread open to a wide courtyard, the sun was strong mouth was dry. From the corner of my eye we saw the gringo whose forefathers have been serving seven generations of the Haveli and it’s Household.

We waited before breakfast, in the large and high ceiling drawing room with rafters which were over 107 years old the Haveli is 107 years old. The photos of Risaldars and Risaldar Majors of the Royal Bengal Lancers, though the carpets are plush and the toilets are modern. The haveli is an old building with modern amenities. We were very hungry and the Gringo called out.

I entered I was dismayed at the simple and frugal spread, few rotis, butter and pickles. When I focused better and dug in, the simplicity and the natural taste overwhelmed me and all of us. There was Missi Roti, with Cow’s milk and butter made from cow’s milk. Served with Kachri Chutney (a cross between cucumber and small melons), also used to tender game meat and pulverize table meat. The pickles, simple and delicious, a relish of Carrot, Turnip and Cauliflower also a pickle of fresh green chilies. Delicious. More Rotis rolled six of us wolfing them down the gringo is doing a marathon from the kitchen to the dining room, we are eating and eating.

The accompaniments, a raw and rudimentary Laadoo (a course sweetmeat, as the Haryanvi’s call them), a plate of Pinniis (more sweets) and some caramelized Gajar Halwa or Carrot pudding. You can run but you cannot hide from the Gringo who is serving us. The Food is delicious we all have nearly 6-7 rotis each, with milk that taste so light smells wonderful. Nothing that I have ever eaten, back in New Orleans, sorry in Delhi.

Amidst the feasting the old timers in Abhijeet’s family uncles and grand uncles tell us stories of the Old hunting grounds of the British India which transport us to the Rudyard Kipling’s India, The Hunter in the Sola Hat. Truly, you have to have, a simple and hearty meal and enjoy the simple pleasures of a simple meal, sharing stories laughter and mirth.
So good , not put on like a commercial Haveli of Rajasthan and quite far from the Bhoppa’s and Bhoppis serving the French in the Neemrana hotels, masquerading as the true Indian experience of this simple meal . Of course it did not cost us anything other than Goodwill Hunting ! Thanks Abhijeet and Sanjay. (Two photos of the haveli are courtesy Randeep. Thanks).
So whats your simple meal story ?
So long!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The 1600 Calorie Brunch : The Claridges, New Delhi

My Dearest wife Praveen is egging me by changing my environment and habitat from Street Food my natural Habitat to not only expensive but very expensive Brunch options. The latest is the 1600 calorie brunch at the lawns of The Claridges, In fact the Trilogy of the British Raj hotels in New Delhi all make very innovative use of the lawns, my previous blog has already mentioned about the Cavalry Dinner at the lawns of The Imperial (apart from wonderful winter lunches), The Brunch at The Claridges in the current post, The Economic Summit at The Ambassador in the upcoming post.

Yes, these three hotels The Imperial, The Claridges and The Ambassador (now a Taj Hotel), exude a certain character of an era. Although they are in different segments, they have a common thread and heritage about them. I got to visit all three within a month, with of course a little help from my friends! Cavalry Dinner (by the subsidy of the Cavaliers Association or perhaps The Imperial, drinks and Dinner for two @ Rs 2000/-) The Brunch @ The Claridges, wholly sponsored by Dearest wife Praveen, who induces me to a good life, otherwise I would have been a highway journeyman.

Now for the lunch which is largely food porn for my street hungry eyes, we started with a glass of wine, perhaps a dry Grover, with platter of cheese , tried six types of cheese, though ineptly laid out and served, cheese appreciation presentation will take a few light years to evolve (a loaded statement from a journeyman). Swiftly followed by Grilled Jumbo prawns and roast duck rolls with chives and plum sauce. Nice prawns, hint of prawn smell and the duck though heated under a lamp, elegantly called the salamander was cold and smelly (as in smelt of duck). Now interspersed with a bloody red Bloody Mary, impeccable service I must say (they spoil you). A slow sampler, of salmon, tenderloin steak, bratwurst (from the Grill). The Grill is very accomplished and the main attraction of the brunch, the eggs station was well unemployed. Sampled, bheja tawa fry, brains on a griddle with a varqi paratha umm okay. What got my heart and my vote apart from the service was the prawn and vegetable tempura with a lovely soya, ginger and wasabi mix (they brought the wasabi and the celery for the bloody marry from the main hotel kitchen on my request) and the appam with the stew, a humble dish but well done.

A quick round of a Mojito (too alcoholic), requested for a virgin Mojito …. Good. Deserts were ordinary, an apple turnover, Vanilla ice cream and Hershey’s kind of chocolate fudge, the hero was badam halwa made from only crushed badams and garnishes. I was too full to even look that way. At Rs 2200/- plus taxes it’s a trifle expensive. It’s a large spread , however, not a patch on the brunches at the Taj and Maurya Sheraton. The Sun and the service….. Oh yeah the service, makes up for everything.

Well personally, Buffet spreads vs. Ala Carte. In a buffet I am a sex crazed monkey, but with the ala carte I am the strong steady Husband or boyfriend at best. I am satisfied with what I have, I enjoy life at my pace and enjoy the dish of life. While in a Buffet, glimpse, ogle, a tit here and ass there at the end of the day could not savor anything tried to grab everything came bloated and unsatisfied. Well, yeah I am Ala carte, and steady kind of guy. I think Dearest wife is secretly testing me by exposing me to the big bad world of Buffets. I like them but I rather stick with Ala carte and her. A beer and a steak any time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cavalry Dinner : A Promise of Short Skirts et al

I have written on the food in the Army earlier. I have to write about the second highpoint of every Armored Corps officer/ Cavalry officer in India. The first of course is Nagar, like every artist thinks of Paris, the same reverence is accorded to Nagar (Ahmednagar) in the Armored Corps in India.

As a Young officer, you are told about Nagar and its nightlife and its promiscuous ladies. You almost feel like a Jihadi who is promised Jannat, Hoors (Damsels) and sweet wines (almost all things otherwise forbidden in Islam) at becoming a martyr. I have often wondered, prompted, by brother dear Sanjiv, how can one half of a population be promised to the other half (men being promised promiscuous women) in heaven on becoming a martyr.

In peace loving India, there are a few opportunities of martyrdom hence you are promised Jannat, in Nagar anyways, with hoors, sweet wine (unlimited wine , smarter guys hitting on Officers daughters and the lesser mortals acquainting women in white uniforms and other commercial interactions). Its almost like pent up escapism , the late nights, drives to Poona, eating at Subhash Dhaba, Drinking at all the Whisky bars (various Officers Mess and Clubs and Institutes in town). Whoosh Heady feeling.

The Other big promise is at the other Mecca The Cavalry Week, culminates with the Cavalry Dinner also called the Cav Dinner. The promise is, officially being allowed to go to Delhi attend the Cav Dinner while you are in the Army. If one is from Delhi even better, get to take a lady friend and expose her to the glamour of the Army life especially as a tank man. Usually held at The Oberoi in the yesteryears, has tried The Imperial, The Shangri La and the deepest dregs of Hotels The Crowne Plaza at Friends Colony. Hope it makes TheImperial its home it goes with its regal image. With Cavaliers and Lancemen in the Lobby, the bar by Sea grams. The old generals, the gracious Turkish Mrs Zorawar Singh. The stylish eyepatch on a gent almost like Clark Gable in a Tuxedo.

Amidst all this, the promise of the shortest skirts on this side of the Yamuna. Well that’s what it used to be. Even the the head of the most powerful nation takes a look at the skirted being, let alone lesser mortals like the Army officers. Men in Cross belts and silver with tights in blue patrols, with a lots of silver and brass and boots with spurs and ladies in a chit of chiffon Whooo !

Hang on this a a food blog so what did we eat, Dearest wife Praveen and I arrived early ate the celery and leek tarts, followed by a chilly chicken and a grilled fish, we drank Grovers wine got the best and kickass service by the Senior Captain himself (from the Hotel and not the Indian Army). I switched to some serious drinking and lost count of time and the drinks to really enumerate a treatise on the food. It was nice, it always is like a good Army Buffet it has fish , Chicken and Mutton. Lots of Hot Food like the last man last bullet, hot food for the last man standing in this case, literally. The Imperial does a stupendous job for the price that the Army pays them. I think they do it because of the Photo opportunity the event brings to all Gora guests at the hotel and the British Raj glamour it brings with it at the appropriate setting of The Imperial.

All this on a very pleasant November evening in the Lawns Of The Imperial with nothing less than the Velvet Fog the Armored Corps band in attendance. Really takes you to another time and place to a simpler life in simpler times all for Rs 2000/- for a couple. Its risen from a Rs 1000/- years ago. Very very affordable, Definitely a part of a Guide to Eating out for a salesman, provided the salesman has been an Officer in the Cavalry like the author.

Well about the short skirts they were in short supply or the migraton of the Siberian Crane is late or is not going to happen.
Cheers and Bash on Regardless !

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

White Collar Or Blue Collar : Matruchaya Mumbai

After a meeting with Volkswagen at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, we conferred where to eat lunch, at the Delicatessen called the Gourmet Store ? ( that’s as far as I would go in a large hotel, even the coffee shops are unaffordable).

The Gourmet store is a true Delicatessen or Deli, where you can buy, Cured meats , Cheese, Foie Gras, Pate, Breads, Besides they do some gourmet sandwiches with choice of bread like focacia, stuffing’s like ham, cheese , jalapenos. With a choice of plain, toasted or grilled. I like the place. Besides, very few places in India can claim to be true blue delicatessens. Especially, the likes of Indigo Deli in Mumbai and the Smoke House Deli in New Delhi are far from being a that. They turn out to be fully fledged restaurants and masquerading to fine dining in that.
True to my salt and grain we decided, to get going from the five star environs, after gulping a few more lungs full of air conditioned deodorized hotel air. Headed to Worli, in a lane opposite the old passport office, to Hotel Matruchaya, the perfect salesman’s eating out experience. We stick to the Non Ac hall to recheck our recently debunked theory of service and their relationship to AC halls and Non AC Halls. Yes In Mumbai you still get better service in the Non AC Hall.

We enter and stick to basics, though my colleague Shiny, politely mentions something Tawa, (for a person in Mumbai, anything done on a Tawa is something special), we stay away from anything on Tawa. It’s a grubby two level restaurant, with quick service and almost ready made food. We order, aVegetarian Meal/ Thali for the Vegan Ankeet . A Prawn Masala Thali and a Mutton Masala Thali and as add ons we order a Surmai Fry (Seer/ King Fish)and Bombil Fry (Bombay Duck a Fish), a Prawn fry, A dish of Vade (fried, hard Malvani Puris) and Two Jeera drinks.
The Food is flavorful and fresh, though quite similar to all such coastal food restaurants in this or
around this range. Almost feels it comes out of a common kitchen located centrally, only garnished on site.
We have this entire gourmet meal for Rs 355/, about Rs 118 per head, we just crossed the Rs 100 mark. But, like I have said before, we make a subliminal effort and not a conscious effort to stay under the Rs 100 mark. Matruchaya, is for the hard worker, a thirty year restaurant, run by Prashant Bhingarde and his father Prakash Bhingarde.
Simple food, simple ingredients, at simple affordable prices for the blue blooded proletariat. The Blue collared worker, the true Mumbaikar, or a blue collared masquerading as a white collared (photo enclosed, Both Blue and White Collared).
This place was recommended by my friend and ex colleague, Sanjay Das….. An eternal foodie. Thanks Sanjay, enjoyed the experience. Cannot wait to all the new exotic places you have lined up in Calcutta specifically Chitta Da.

Thats me after the lunch (exhibit 1 with the pehelwan/ wrestler, Thats the apt photo (exhibit2) for the White Collar Vs Blue collar Debate (me in a light Blue Collar)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Southern Comfort: Madras Nights

A few days ago my friend Arun Paul Alex , suggested we go to The Smoke House Grill and Eat steaks. I said we are Slumdogs, we need to slum it out. Besides, there is no twist and bite in going to a restaurant and reviewing it. The whole romance is in finding an exciting and local place to eat and drink cheaply. That’s what the (Guide to eating out for a salesman is all about). So the quest is Chennai. I still like Madras.There is no better way to arrive In Madras, than in an Indian Airlines flight (now, Air India I still like, Indian Airlines), the Mamis and Kelavans (Aunts and Grand Uncles) are all their with theirplastic baskets, vermillion and vibhuti (totems on the forehead) . You already feel you are in Madras enroute. Received by an enormous air conditioned Amabassador car ( adds more authenticity to the trip).

Joined by Praveen ( a male collegue and not Dear Wife) and Sathya, we are transported to Sree Velu Military Hotel, which is a shade of what it used to be. Sathya, a converted vegetarian, had Parothas and Korma. We started with a mutton or chicken soup (complimentary), had Keema Balls (like a Shammi Kabab), a Mutton Biryani with a very onion raita, Mutton chops in Masala with complimentary Rasam, Some curd and a bottle of Mineral water all for Rs 368 ( Technically we overshot the Rs100/-, the target for the salesman to eat out, it was per personRs 122/- to be precise). The place is very 70’s, with oil paint on walls, with orange and green colors, waiters had a tired look at 9 pm. They were dressed in green T shirts. There is a debate over the real Velu, Eldams road or Nugambakkam, there are equal number of followers. The Menu offers, Rabbit, Turkey, Pigeon, Shark, Quail and did I Hear Squirrel !! Miltary incidentally is Non vegetarian food for the uninitiated (spells vigor and vitality to deal with an arduous so called military life)

The mornings in Madras are the way Indian mornings may have been in the many centuries ago, floors washed Mugu/ Rangoli on the main gate, Music in the air then self performed (now Suprabhatam on the music system), Flowers, Incense, Prayers , grinding of the Idly barter and chutneys and the Arabic addition the heavenly smell of freshly brewed coffee. It’s still pretty much the same. Amidst all this morning melodrama, I had to visit Murugan Idly shop, though not of the pedigree of MTR and Vidhyarthi, Murugan in is relatively new in Madras (6 outlets), Singapore (2 outlets ), Madurai the original Murugan Idly shop has three outlets. The Madras outfits are under a decade old, despite that they have made a mark in the traditional Madras breakfast outlet market. It’s not cheap by Madras standards. I had two idlys with four chutneys (pure coconut, tomato, coriander and mint, in Madurai I believe they do 11 chutneys), with Sambhar of course and extras for malgapodi (commonly known as gunpowder, a creamy and pasty and dark feel to it) and ghee. An enormous vada, very crisp and very nice and a plain dosa with an excellent tumbler of filter coffee. The taste of coffee that lingers and stays with you for 15 to 20 minutes after you drink it. All this for Rs 99/- (under my Rs 100/- mark). That’s quite a place and price for Madras standards, well within reach of the Slum dog Salesman Sam aka Agent Sam.

A thing that intrigues me often is the price of tender coconut, no matter where you go in India the price is nearly the same, In Delhi its Rs 15 to 20, same in Mumbai, same in Kolkatta and surprise Rs 20/ in Madras. Despite transportation labor and margins. That’s pricing efficiency with little arbitrage margins like Gold.
So many places to go so few meals (there only that many times you can eat in a day). On the list are Ponuswamy, Anjapaar, Anbu Mess, Kalpakka etc, as had done the Amravathi, Karaikudi, Buhari and others on previous visits and stay in Madras.

Another debunking of my pet theories on this trip, if you are having a thali and add ons, sit in the main hall and not in the air conditioned farce. As, in all these places you get better and quicker service and hot quality food in the main hall e.g., Gujarati, Thali, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta and even Bangalore (Koshy’s and Bheemas). As the farce called AC has lower guest to waiter ratio, slow service, cold food and higher prices with less variety and authenticity. However, this does not hold good in Madras which is still extremely hierarchical and realizes AC means wealth and power hence you are genuinely wooed there. Lesson unlearnt and new one learnt.

Idyllically playing with his Curd rice in KaraiKuddi, a friend a drummer and a musician said Karaikuddi is fine you have to go to Ponuswamy’s (many moons ago). S we were at Ponusamy’s at Roypettah. Like all famous eating places everything is a chain of restaurants in Madras, we went to one of them. Lesson had not been learnt yet,we decided to sit in the main hall and ordered, Mutton sukka, Crab Masala, Chicken Chettinad, a plain gravy (complementary, all meals down south we discussed is all about add-ons and more value adds), two meals (complete with rice rasam, sambhar, curds, pappadam, and vegetables) with mineral water cost us Rs 426/- about Rs 213/-each, but we had a field day. The Crab masala and mutton sukka were memorable the chicken Chettinad was imminently forgettable. Here I must complement my dear wife, dear Praveen and who is a south Indian food afficionado is as an accomplished cook with a focus for South Indian gourmet food , makes a much better chettinad chicken (quite an accomplishment considering she grew up in heartland Punjab).

Raghu a Colonel in the Army and looks after the Girls Battalion of NCC at Madras, (I often smirk and remind him to keep away from their Knickers, i.e. the girl cadets). He is doing a fine job in training the youth and inculcating discipline, courage, honesty. Though it may seem like a joke in today’s day and age, but I think he and the NCC make a difference to atleast 10% of the lives that they touch. He and the Project Manager from Madras, Vikrant, whom I call affectionately decided to meet for a drink at the Madras Gymkhana (mind it, its still called, Madras Gymkhana). It is125 years old and all serving Army officers in Station are invited as members, also because the Army owns the land, where the club is located. Imagine, a night by the beach at the Madras Gymkhana in 1884. We armed ourselves with a couple of drinks and headed to Kalpakka a Kerala cuisine place near the Music Academy, came recommended by Alex and now these Malayalee gents were smiling at chomping into Syrian beef fry. Raghu had been here 25 years ago and Vikrant, had heard of it (or had been there). We entered and occupied the Air conditioned cabin and were served by a Nepali Gent, strange, Kerala food served by a Nepali in Madras. So here goes, two Syrian beef fry, prawns masala, Kari Meen Fry (pearl spot fish), Omelets, Vegetable stew, Four appams and four Kerala parothas with unlimited Chukku vellum herbal warm water, was at a grand sum of Rs 525/- amazing Rs 175 each , mind we were in the air conditioned super service. We were stuffed and trooped out.

Madras is a charming place which has the Southern comforts of Spice, Silk Smitha and Shakeela (Kodambakkam style). Dreaming of the surreal food at surreal prices. I drifted into a food coma, thinking of the sumptuous meals and ample bosomed and well endowed Kodambakkam Beauties.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pantry Of Desire : The Oriental Fruit Mart, New Delhi

Only when I was settling down from the holiday in UK and beginning to understand the finer distinction between, Irish, Scotish, Welsh, Cornish food and drink and gloat about writing my newly acquired knowledge on the blog. I was confined to the walls of the Escorts hospital and the food within it, albeit it was my father whom I was emotionally nursing. I was nourishing myself from the cafes and a dhaba owned by Wasim with the most amazing bread omlettes and Chai around the hospital.

Dearest wife Praveen tried to cheer me and my dear brother Sanjiv with her famous chettinad cuisine, outings to the Machaan, a dinner night at China Garden et al. Nothing seemed to bring me back into the fold as my head and heart was lost in atrial fibrilliation, aortic stenosis, diuretics, prothombin tests and betablockers apart from the trauma of a double open heart surgery for my dear father. At best I could have been an obedient dutiful son and a nervous bank clerk rolled into one. I did have sparks of action, thinking ahead of the game, the planner and strategist. However hospitals and doctors have their pace. All is well now.

Still I could not tear myself away and indulge in the urban pantry of my desires. I termed it a eaters block and perhaps momentary lapse of reason owing to the pshytropic journey we had been through. Then all of a sudden, an evening out, at good old Connaught Place. We dropped in at The Oriental Fruit Mart and Stores (The Food Store). You enter and are greeted by the two cheerful sons Ravinder and Jitender apart from the tubelit space and dark wood and glass showcases and stock cupboards, they have almost everything we need, we buy sardines, tuna, cream cheese, wasabi peas, diet chocolate and whole lot of other stuff. Though the packaged meats section is a bit weak. They make up with canned and tinned stuff.
It brought me back from my writing slumber and motivated me to write, my affiliation with processed food, meat, canned food goes back to era of the early 70s when Superbazaars were set up by the govt (This one was in Viashapatnam aka Vizag aka Waltair in AndhraPradesh) as a huge department store, it had everything from groceries to furniture to grinders to newly introduced HMT watches to custom confiscated goods including swiss watches and stretch lon trousers and bush shirts that lasted a lifetime. And, it had a meat section with piggery products from Ghanavaram and this was my favourite section, as it also had a mini zoo next to the parking lot. Who said the government can’t get it right.
My second tryst with canned food was shrimps, tuna, mackerel at a cooperative department store in Coimbatore (in Tamil Nadu) called Chintamani, while my parents shopped, I gazed at the canned food lost in a world of Enid Blyton's description of the feasting from the larder by the Famous Five. Sardines on biscuits, ham sandwiches, canned peaches and tinned cheese with tongue. Phew some of that was available right before my eyes.

Cut to the present, The Oriental Fruits Mart located at E Block in Connaught Place, close to the legendary store Giggles (the grand uncle and precursor to Archies stores) at E Block, offer and complement the heritage of Connaught Place and Delhi. The Oriental Fruits mart was set up by Brat Pal Arora in 1939 (which makes it 70 years old). It’s a food store stocking, from caviar and sturgeon /salmon roe to pomegranate syrup to churozio sausage. Its currently owned by Mahinder Pal who lives in Kamla Nagar and his helped by his sons as mentioned earlier, Jitender and Ravinder. Really friendly people.

Many years ago I often crossed the store, saw the exotic fruit and thought that’s not for me and I had been on this trip of buying and eating local produce. Eat what is available around you rather than something flown in from a distant land, and would be formidably expensive. However for the time being I have let the inhibitions aside and immersed in the choicest of food , fruit and meat.
Do try the store it offers great products at decent prices with excellent and friendly service. It helped me get back on track and back on business of the gastronomic pantry of desire. Thanks !

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spicy food and Sultry Seductress : at Durga Puja

With all the Beer summits and a trip abroad I was loosing touch with reality when Paras Chatterjee, whom I affectionately call Lady Chatterjee's lover spelt out the secret. During Durga Puja on the sixth day and the seventh, there are food festivals in the various Pandals. Where, households showcase the gourmet food prepared at home. Its more of a social bonhomie and Goodwill hunting than commerce and profit. I later learned its called Anando Mela.

Detective An and I set out to the Arravali apartments in Alakananda in Aamar Delhi (Our Delhi-in Bengali). We walk in, lady's in the their sixth day best, or Sashtami best, with casseroles of food, Mutton reezala and parathas, mutton kebabs, Chicken cutlets, fish cutlets, Dhaka Mutton and Parathas, many stalls of Biryani. We were feeling like kicking ourselves, salivating and not able to eat....... Bishoon disshgushting (very disgusting in Bengali). We were self inflicted vegetarians- due to Navratras. Surrounded by great food and not able to eat.We got to the book store and devour books, Detective An buys nine books ( 7 Rainbow Magics, 1 Archie 2 Phantom comics) and I buy One, Indian Intellectuals meet pornography and decide to call it erotic stories.... Ruchir Joshi's Electric Feather. Again Bishoon Disshgusting. Basically rustic porn with an Oxford education.

Next day Lady Chaterjee's lover says, the Kali Bari/ Shiv Mandir has a food festival, today, everything is vegetarian. Umm sounds great to my vegetarian sensibility, I get there, early evening and take a hundred rupees and five hundred rupees from my wallet just in case. Hoping that I can manage in Rs 100/- (the sales man's guide to eating out in Durga Puja). You know, beating the Budget.I enter and immerse, I see a doe eyed bengali lady in a backless choli, its getting to be erotica saga rather than a food journey, she blinks her sultry eyes and pouts. I have my eyes on feasting elsewhere. Lady Chaterjee's lover is happy to see me their, gives a quick orientation tour, we start. First Singhara (Samosa in Bangla), in a casserole a bit cold, nice with Dal stuffing Rs 10/-, next we try a Dudhi Puli a sweet from a sweet lady at Rs 20/- its like a sweet Raviolli in a sweet milk malai.

Next stop is Ghugni, made of channa (like a Gujrati Ragda) but very spicy, garnished with sev, corriander and green chilli, mouth on fire. Price Rs 10/-. Actually Ghugni seems like an institution,like Bhel Puri in West India and Papri chaat/ Aloo Tikki in the North. An evening snack. It was heat hot as well as chilly hot Next stop a Mocher chop, a cutlet made out of a banana flowers priced at Rs 10/-. Keep it coming. The G spot was tickled on my palette, I said, more.!

Anything to do with Banana, is held with the same reverence as fish, in vegetarian cuisine by the Bengalis.All parts of the banana tree are mixed, cooked, fried and blended in food. So farI had spent Rs 50/- and savoured4 delicasies. We were again accosted by the sultry seductress, with all middle men ogling and youngsters giggling and fantasizing.

Not satiated yet, moved on to the Channa Payas a sweet priced at Rs 10/- (its obviously not for commerce but your prowess in cooking and other lattitudes). The Chhana Payas had a pasty feel to it. I dont think you cannot evenget good quality ingredients at that price. Wanted a change in palette after the pasty sweet what better than a mirchi pakoda again priced at Rs 10.- Nice hot and spicy, served by an infant while the father mixed the Ghugni and the little daughter gave me the change.

The score so far six items at Rs 70. I quickly added a Sandesh made by an NGO run by women, and I topped it with a Bread Roll at Rs 10/- Which took the maths to Rs90/- and the brand count to 8, unbelievable had 8 delight s for Rs 90/-. Hands in my pocket a whistle on my lips walked back to the car looked for the sultry seductress she had vanished like the savouries from the stalls.

So whats your story of a cheap street. I seriously beat the budget at Rs 90. So thats a cheap treat and al lot of cheap thrills.

So Long !