SMCA Durga Puja Pandal, Besant Nagar

South Madras Cultural Association is hosting the 40th year of Durga Puja celebrations, something that has only gotten better over the years, I was told. The place is located right opposite to the Besant Nagar Bus Terminus. The festivities/Mela starts from 7PM in the evening, while the Puja celebrations go on pretty much the whole day!

Coming to why I was actually keen to go! 🙂 No prizes for guessing, just to give a shot at the Bengali food counters! Today was the first day, and I think it is open until Dashami (Friday). You might want to double check this. Around 7PM, crowd started to come in gradually and the food counters started to pick up pace.
A quick glance at the stalls, there were Kolkata specialties, Chinese, Chaat, etc. In general, most Kolkata places had Mughalai Paratha, Chicken/Fish cutlets, Chicken/Fish Kabiraji, Biryani and Katti Roll on display.
The first familiar stall I noticed was Bengali Fun Foods, decided to try the Chicken Cutlet. It was tasty, but a bit expensive at 100 bucks. Just as a matter of comparison, a few shops sold 2pcs for 120. It tasted good, so didn’t matter much. The Kasundhi (mustard sauce) served with it was much stronger than I expected.
The busiest stall during the time I was there was Kolkatar Khas Khabar, they do not have a presence in Chennai and they come over just for these Puja days it seems. They also took a great pride in saying they’re the oldest stall here in the whole Pandal. I tried their Egg Chicken Roll, and loved watching him make it right there! Priced at 120 bucks, this was tasty. With a generous dose of chillies, this tasted superb!
Perils of being a solo diner, you can’t eat as much as you would like to. There were still so many varieties of chicken, but I was quite stuffed already.
Headed to the next stall to sample Jalebi! That was Calcutta Express, also seemed like a catering service and not a restaurant. The Jalebis were distinctly different compared to the ones you see in Chennai. They were thicker and tasted wonderful! Just 10 bucks for a piece. Wished someone had proper Mishto Doi, unfortunately they didn’t. I didn’t quite see anyone sell Bengali sweets too. Oh my Rasagolla !!! 🙁
Finally finished with a Chaai (sans the Matka), served in a normal paper cup, 15 bucks for that and it was okay.
The Katti Roll Shop and Bayleaf were prominent restaurant names from Chennai. I didn’t try though! I missed the two variants of chicken, teh names of which took me a while to understand. Sounded like Satay and Drumstick, but looked way different than what we’ve seen here. If I was with someone else for company, would have certainly sampled that!
That was a quick round up of food stalls in the SMCA Durga Puja Pandal in Besant Nagar. Since I am quite a regular visitor to Petuk, teh food wasn’t something totally new to me, but loved the whole experience in general. Coming Wednesday and Thursday can get really crowded, so if you would like to sample Bengali food and check out a few stalls and the festivities, its worth visiting!

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