mast kalandar
Mast Kalandar Head Chef Samta Gupta demonstrates one of her traditional dishes.

The festive season is finally here and the special occasion of Navratri entails certain religious norms, which many people follow, especially across North India.

The food eaten during this occasion is mainly vegetarian, cooked strictly according to the norms of this festival. Even certain vegetables are a strict no-no for those who follow the norms.

For others, it is just another festive occasion to get together with friends and family, and enjoy a hearty meal with one and all. After all, love and care is best shared over a plate full of delicious food – or in the case of India, a Thali.

Thalis are a speciality of the Indian cuisine, where different kinds of curries and desserts are served with rice and/or puris, to provide a home-like feel when one eats it. However, what about those who do not have the option of cooking at home?

Well, there are plenty of restaurants out there these days that serve up delicious Thalis, just like people expect them to be made at home. Of course no chef (no matter how highly qualified they are) can cook a meal as well as one's mother or grandmother, but one cannot deny the fact that they do get pretty close to the meals served up by loved ones.

Mast Kalandar is one such restaurant that has created a special menu, just for the Navratri festival.

The chefs here have developed two special Thalis, apart from an array of special dishes for the festival of Navratri. Lets' just stick to the two Navratri special Thalis, as the number of sabzis are too vast to go into.

Utsav Maha Thali

'Utsav Maha Thali' consists of vegetarian dishes prepared for people who do not follow the norms of the festivities down to every word. It has different kinds of food items, which constitute the starters, main course, and desserts.

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The Utsav Maha Thali

Starters – The starters consist mainly of sabudana papad and small samosas. The samosa is not the usual aloo samosas that is eaten throughout North India, and is smaller than usual. However, the highlight would definitely have to be the sabudana papad. This papad, as its name suggests, is made from sabudana (pearl tapioca), which is deep-fried. The papads come in different colours and when asked about the reason behind colours, Head Chef Samta Gupta explained that the colouring was provided by different natural ingredients. The yellow papads were smeared with turmeric, the green ones with pudina, and the pink ones with beetroot.

Main Course – This was probably the biggest highlight of the thali. It contained everything that one could expect from a North Indian veg dish. Aloo gobi, paneer ajwain, masala puri and pulav the main course had it all. The highlight of the thali, of course was the masala puri and the pindi chole.

Desserts – Although you are likely to feel more than full after the main course, no Indian can part with a thali without a sweet taste in their mouth. Shaker Para, Gulab Jamun and  Ras Malai are the classic sweets to end a hearty meal.

Vrat Maha Thali

The Vrat Maha Thai has been designed for people who want to follow every religious detail, of the festival, and still enjoy a day out with their friends. All the ingredients have been made from products that comply with the rituals of the occasion.

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The Vrat Maha Thali

Starters – The starters contain food items like Kutte ki pakori and sabudana papad.

Main course – The main course consists of an array of items made with ragi, which accounts for the dark colour of the puris and the pakori. Other than this, there's also an array of curries, to have the staple diet with, like aloo ki sabzi, and paneer ki sabzi. All these sabzis are cooked according to the norms of the festivities and the vrat.

Desserts – There are a couple of religious items like nariyal ka ladoo, makhane ki kheer, raita and chutney.

An amalgamation of all these flavours go on to provide a great Navratri experience for one and all. Even those who prefer food cooked according to the norms of the vrat, and those who just want to enjoy one tasty morsel after another, with their loved ones.