So, in pursuit of my Bengali split identity , I go back into the alleys of North Kolkata, Kumhartuli... Like ever year, I am hyperactive, jumping in joy, clicking pictures, going "oh wow" at every sight, splashing puddles, slipping on clay and yet being so happy like it is my first time ever there. This happens to the extent that people going with me are calling me over and over again because I am too busy trying to make my miserable attempt at photography with my point and shoot camera .
First time I went to Kumhartuli, I discovered not only my bengali self but also a gem of a sweet shop, Nakur... Next was Bagbazaar and Golbari ... This time we decided to tread an unfamiliar path .We decided to drive down parallel to the river Hoogly and saw it get dark from dusk and how Gonga changes its appearance from a pale grey to dark with reflections if lights shimmering like a beautiful bride draped in a saree...
There comes the nostalgia again, We drove down memory lane and the road at the same time, sharing anecdotes, stories of childhood, pujo memories and how we are vegetarian during puja.. So my hosts for the evening wanted to give us a surprise and took us to the Ahiritola Ghaat / Bhootnath Mandir and Explored the Bengal - Bihar Connection. With Discussions that were laced with songs from Bhanu Shigher Padabali and the Maithili connection, we were brought to this small dingy shack, bustling with crowd and asking for a very humble county cousin of the Marwadi Daal Baati Choorma. We tasted it . The Litti Chokha.
Ok now let me just simplify it.
Chokha - Mashed Potato with spices / Makha in Bengali / Bharta for UP-ites/ Can also be mashed brinjols
Litti - Dough dumplings stuffed with spiced roasted gram flour and the char grilled on glowing embers
This heavenly LITTI is the dunked in Ghee ( clarified butter) and crushed and served with Chokha and a chutney that can be mind blowing. Notes of chili, ginger, sattu ( gram flour ) all just hit us like a blow. Whoa ! it was remarkable . The charred Litti , had some magical charcoal aromas. Smokey, crunchy and simple . This according to me is food at its honest, humble best .
Sitting on wooden benches we hogged ourselves and were purely intoxicated.
Puja, I am told, makes hearts grow fonder, and I have a new love in the city now, Litti Chokha ...
Cant wait for the next visit. Will soon write and elaborate about the BANGAAL CONNECTION with durga puja.