In 2012, right in the peak of my career I got so bored in life that I quit my job, bought a ticket, flew to the city of joy, Kolkata and fell in love with photography. Trust me, Kolkata vacation was the cheapest holiday so much so that I extended my trip to four months. Apart from being cost effective, it is a farm of nostalgia, pride, food and varied experiences. There is so much to share about Kolkata that words fall short. Although I personally don’t like anything bong (being a hardcore Delhite), but Kolkata has its own charm to lure you into its world.
Interestingly, it is irrelevant if you are a bong or not a bong, if you understand Bengali or not, this city gets to all. From famous fish to Howrah Bridge, every part has a tale to narrate.
Mine is the tale of the most nostalgic, creative and funny city in India – Kolkata
Food is my first love and when I hit Kolkata the whiff of food just pulled me into the alleys where you can easily spot various street vendors selling chops, rolls, cutlets and all kinds of fried and edible foods. Food and Kolkata go hand in hand. You can even say it in one breath.
Cha, Snacks and the Quintessential Adda
Street food of Kolkata are must must must have (no grammatical error! the emphasis is intentional). From maacher chop (fish chop) to mangshor ghoogni (Mutton Chole) and not to miss the pucchka (golgappas) the list is endless. All street food in Kolkata is hygienic, fresh and yummylicious. The small street vendors are placed at every corner of any given street in the entire city, even in front of the restaurants. I was amazed to see that both the different food connoisseurs, restaurant manger and the street food vendor, never pose a threat to each other, this is because Bengalis have multiple taste buds which can savour varieties of flavours at one given time.
One of the famous street foods apart from the regular ones is the beudin rolls, a famous street food brand of Kolkata. It is heaven! Small pieces of chicken finely cut, marinated in some amazing tasty sauce with onions and wrapped in a chappati. This roll, doesn’t only limits itself to chicken but to fish and paneer.
Food tip: Don’t forget to ask for the white sauce, mayonnaise or tartar dip.
Standing alongside these food stalls, there are cha vendors waiting for you to finish your plate and come to them for a sip of hot and tasty tea, known as cha. Served in small plastic glass at Rs 5 or in glass made of mud known as khullar are not to miss. At anytime, anywhere in the city you will find men walking with tin containers filled with tea. Cha and adda is the trademark of bangaliana.
Famous Restaurants of Kolkata
Park Street is the food disc of Kolkata. I call it a disc for there are so many varieties and colours that you are spoilt for choices. Eventually you end up eating little more than what you can digest and therein comes the problem that is genetically inbuilt in every Bengali, oombool (acidity and flatulence) leading to a fanatic search of digine, eno or akka natural recipes passed on from generation to generation.
Jokes apart! Kolkata is truly a paradise for food lovers. From typical Bengali cuisine to international, you name it and you shall have it. A few must visit restaurant are Peter Cat, Arsalan, Tung Fong, Silver Grill, Charcoal Grill, Oh Calcutta, Quipies, and Tandoori Delights.
Among the world cuisine, Chinese food of Kolkata needs a special mention. It has a unique taste with one of a kind menu. Did you know that you there is a Chinese para (locality) in Kolkata where you get awesome Chinese breakfast?
My Favourite Restaurant – Flurry’s
Flurry’s is my favourite eatery in all of Kolkata. Every item on their menu is mind blowing; be it desserts, breakfast, lunch or dinner. For me sweets at Flurry’s top the list.
In just one visit you can’t do justice to home baked breads, assortment of meat, diversified and carefully catered combos. When you are done ogling at the food, you can’t resist falling in love with its superb view. Strategically located at the corner of Park Street with big French windows, I fell in love by just gazing upon the British stylized architecture across the road, people walking by and old English classics playing in the background. It recreated a scene just out of a Roald Dahl book. Flurry charms its visitors with the classic aristocratic feel.
Indian Coffee House
Indian Coffee House also known as ‘atal bajii’ or ‘place of intellects’, is another place which I really loved to hang around, located right across the Presidency College. It is said that, it was home to many famous celebrities like Mana Dey, Mrinal Sen and Amarty Sen to name a few.
The entrance of the house is decorated with bright coloured posters in varied languages, provoding various messages on clubs, raging issues and politics. Among the posters and pamphlets pasted on the wall, I saw a small board shyly hidden behind a white pamphlet, “No Smoking Area. Smoking is an Offence.” But as soon you enter inside the Indian Coffee House, it is like a Chimney!
I was awestruck at the sheer size of the coffee house. It is hard to spot a table in the two storey coffee house. Find a spot near the window and look at the crowd, think of what to order, ask ‘dada’ (waiter) to suggest the speciality. Ah! Small ways to enjoy the classic coffee house which is not just a place to eat, it is an experience of culture, history and society.
Food Tip: Fish kabiraji, cold coffee and mutton cutlet is a must have.
You can sit here leisurely, sip in cha or coffee and spend time with books, laptop or adda.
This was just a handful of places where the essence of food and Kolkata is so alive. One can’t ever get enough of Kolkata’s food culture!
Do stay tuned to know that there are so many other sightseeing places apart from the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
Meet our guest blogger, Madhurima Mukherjee
For more on Kolkata from her, read, See Kolkata, the offbeat style.