Some official works came and we had to go to Asansol. Not too far, I consoled myself…. You won’t get anything good to gorge on, so you may reduce a teeny weeny little- my self consoled me.
“On the way”
After you get on NH-2 and heading towards Bardhaman, the must-eat place comes for all bengalis- Shaktigarh. Though Hindustan hotel came up recently with its new, revamped lounge on the first floor, it still remained an afternoon joint (for an unknown reason) for me. CCD and Azad Hind Dhaba never really clicked with me despite being extremely clean and hygienic- hence Shaktigarh. For the unfamiliar, once you drive for around 100 kms after getting on NH2, you enter a stretch of road, where there are all sweet shops on both sides of the road- welcome to Shaktigarh. We entered a place called আদি ল্যাংচা ভবন. I somehow strongly doubt that all these 20-30 shops get their sweets offloaded to some unknown whole-seller, but didn’t get any proof. Otherwise, how can they be so alike in taste ?
The kachori with ghugni was delicious. They serve you fresh from karai- hence, freshness is never an issues with them. In almost all the stalls,
The specialty of that area is something called Langcha or Lyancha. Its a fried sweet dipped in sweet syrup – mostly made with chhena. They serve it really fresh and nice. and , as usual, a nice folklore was backing it. Lyangcha or Langcha is the colloquial version of the word Lyangra or crippled, which is named after a nameless crippled gora sahib who fell in love with the sweet on the first visit. It was invention of a certain Khudiram Dutta in Shaktigarh. Mr Dutta went ahead and started his first shop named Lyancha Mahal in the area that sold his cylindrical sweet dipped in sweet syrup, and a legacy was started.
Monda is another of the area’s specialty. Its a dry sweet made of dry chhena and Khoya- nice and long-lasting. Sitabhog and Mihidana are other standard items- nothing great. They’re good, but probably, the best variety is available in a place called Ganesh Sweets, Bardhaman. Now, that’s a different story altogether. I might like to mention, as chhena was considered to be a not-sacred item among hindus (as it’s a form of curdled milk), till a long time, only non-chhena sweets were used in puja- like Monda , kodma, batasa etc. But, after the Portughese came in, chhena took over and the whole sweet scenario in Bengal changed.
But the showstopper there was the Jhalmuri. They make the thing with some 20 ingredients and the fine tweaking in taste is what makes it special. 10/- a plate/ Thonga, great mid-morning snacks.
“Stir-Fried Biryani- anyone ??? “
I reached Asansol in due time (3 hours from Shaktigarh) and nothing special there. But during the lunch time, surprisingly, we discovered that a Lazeez outlet has opened up there, which is the sister concern of Siraz, Kolkata. Entered the place and on the menu-card, saw something called Chicken Masala Boryani. We ordered a plate of the same and found out that its nothing but a plate of standard Siraz Biryani stir fried with green chilly and coriander leaf chopped. Extremely spicy- but somehow it didn’t ring a bell with me, for my spicy biryani never meant a stir-fried biryani. However, it was a not-so-nice surprise.
Now I used to visit Asansol & Durgapur some years back and I found out some strange special items of Asansol. Here comes an outline of the same.
“Kacchi Bhaja” There is a place called Chachi’s Shop in Asansol. Its the next lane to the Asansol Gurdwara, its a small miniscule shop, but they make some damn tasty farsan snacks. Its basically a family-run outlet with the house-members doing most of the work with help from some helps. Below, some of their items:
Hence, Asansol was a nice experience- enjoy !!!
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