The romance of C.R Park from a die-hard Bong settled in Delhi
Come weekend, and the market is bustling with customers who demand the best fish in the city. You may ask ‘What’s the big deal?’ Well, in a city which is more famous for dal makhani, chole bhature and butter chicken, the craving for fish sounds a bit fishy! But not so in this part of Delhi. Welcome to Chittaranjan Park, better known as C.R. Park to Delhites.
C.R. Park means Durga Puja for most Delhites, but for us bongs in Delhi/NCR, it’s the place to visit during weekends throughout the year to make up for what you miss for not being in Bengal. Bengalis are known to spend a fortune when it comes to food and C.R. Park offers just that.
From the traditional Bengali delicacies like puchka, mutton ghugni, alur chop and egg rolls, which you can categorise as snacks, there is also the option of biriyani (Kolkata style), mach-bhaat( fish and rice), chicken kosha, rumali ruti, and so on to make up the main course and not to forget the desserts comprising of mishti doi, rosogolla (yes, what’s a lunch or a dinner without these two !) and other sweets like chitrokut, jol bhora, chamcham, kheer kodom. Not just eating joints, you find things that you have grown up with in a Bengali household which you may not find anywhere else in Delhi like a boti ( a substitute for knife which our mothers and grandmothers are more comfortable with), shorshe guro (mustard powder) to make special fish preparations and chaler guro (rice powder) used to prepare patishapta which is technically a pancake with coconut filling. The list goes on.
Generally, every weekend, I visit the market with my better half to shop for fish, mutton and other items of our daily needs. C.R. Park has 2 main markets – Market 1 and Market 2 and both have numerous eating joints, sweet shops and of course their own fish market, and trust me the variety of fish you will find may take you back to a market in Manicktala or Jodu Babur Bazaar in Kolkata. My personal favourite in terms of markets is Market 1, somehow I feel the fish is a bit fresher than in Market 2 and I am sure there are people with the opposite view, but then opinions are bound to differ. For the variety, you have chingri or prawns (coming in 3-4 different sizes catering to different customers and needs) and other varieties of fish Bengalis love- ilish( hilsa), rui( rohu), katla, tangra, pabda, bhetki, bata, parshe, singhi, magur, mourolla, pomfret and a few others. I generally prefer to buy ilish, chingri (yes, for once, the ghoti-bangal, East Bengal-Mohun Bagan rivalry is put to rest), pabda, pomfret, tangra, bhetki and katla. There is also the option of shutki maach (dried fish) which is a delicacy, once cooked properly. We Bengalis are finicky when it comes to the fish market, fish sellers and of course the type of fish we eat. Ask any Bengali who does the daily/weekly household shopping and he is bound to have a specific market and a specific fish seller from whom he will buy fish. He trusts that person to provide him with the best quality fish all the time and the trust reaches such a level that the seller will not sell fish to their daily customers if he feels the fish is not fresh.
Once, the shopping is done, there is option of having a bite of your favorite snack and scanning through the Bengali magazines if you are into reading- there are lots of them from Desh, Sananda, Anadamela, Anadalok along with the daily newspapers stock of Anadabazar, Ajkal, Eishomoy and Bartaman.
And once you are done with that, it’s time to go back home to make preparations for a finger-licking sumptuous meal and enjoy the rest of the weekend.