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 !