Chingri Chops with Bengali Chai. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
cha-ta It’s a phrase that says a lot more than you might expect from four little letters. tea time There is a popular idiom in North India, indicating tea and a snack – possibly a biscuit. As I learned during my travels in Bengal, cha-ta promises a feast. ChaOf course, there is tea, but the word Ta It is a delight for food lovers. When a host asks you to stay cha-ta (similar to tea time), I suggest you skip lunch Ta There can be anything from samosas to chops and cutlets and yellow peas stuffed with meat.
If there’s nothing at home, you’re likely to find a bowl of puffed rice with minced onions and green chillies, a little mustard oil mixed in, and, if you’re lucky, some grated or shredded coconut. Most of the guests invited for tea are usually fed a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks. Since Kolkata was the place the colonialists had settled for a long time, the food-loving Bengali may have learned an elaborate tea habit from the British, known for high tea.
There was a time in Delhi when many of these dishes – like beetroot chops, or chicken cutlets – were only available in Chittaranjan Park. But over the years, several eateries offering all this and more have opened up in different parts of Delhi. A friend recently told me about a delivery organization called Bhojanroshika in Vaishali. I ordered food from there (the prawn malai curry was fantastic, as was the kosha chicken), but the snacky dish my friends loved were the vegetable cutlets. A stuffing of boiled potatoes, mashed with grated carrots and peas, sautéed with mild spices, coated in flour batter, fried into pieces. a fitting Ta For Cha, It was the perfect ‘ta’ for tea.
Mangsher Ghughni with Bengali tea. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
They also have dishes like Prawn Chops, Fish Fingers etc on their menu Mangsher Ghughni or mutton crotch – A delicious dish of yellow peas cooked with minced meat. mutton jiHugni It is made with boiled yellow peas and is cooked with minced mutton, onions, tomatoes, potato chunks, whole spices and a Bengali spice mix called Bhaja Spices. Then it is served garnished with chopped onions, coriander leaves and lemon juice.
While surfing the net I found Appayan in IP Extension from where I bought some vegetable chops stuffed with grated beetroot and fried peanuts. It had a prickly vermicelli coating, which added to the texture and taste. I enjoyed their samosas which were stuffed with spiced potatoes, but got Nimki (a flaky and fried dough triangle) Not up to the mark.
Nimki and samosa with Bengali tea. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
One of my favorite places is New Annapurna in Hauz Khas. Its breakfast fare is equal to that of tea. Potato samosas are delicious, and in winters they make a special cauliflower floret samosa. Another popular spot in Chittaranjan Park – called Dadu Cutlet Shop (Grandfather’s Cutlet Shop) – has a dish called dimer devil, which is like a Scotch egg. One or half a boiled egg is coated with minced meat, crumbled and then fried. Sinful, but wonderful. Most chops and samosas cost ₹15-25.
These small eateries and sweet shops have opened up a whole new world to me. My Ta – As Readers Say ‘Thank You’ – To Ta,