“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
Indians are always widely known as food lovers. But, we Bengalis tend to take it up a notch higher as we are passionate about it. We relish our Pulao, Machher kaalia (Fish kaalia), Golda Chingrir (Lobster) malaikari, kosa mangso (mutton) in the same way we do our street food. Street food in Kolkata epitomizes the para (neighborhood) culture. Having something at the nearest roadside vendor is not only about eating and fulfilling ones gastronomic urges, but it is also a way of having food with family, friends and also with colleagues. The street foods also intensify the typical Bengali ‘adda’ in a proper manner.
1. MATIR VAD- E- CHA (Tea) – During any journey, whenever the train stops at a station, the first voice that we hear is “chai, chai, garam chai” of the chaiwalas, which becomes the significant part of the journey as well as adds a homely kind of feeling becauthe first thing that we want after we get up in the morning, is Tea.
Tea, popularly known as cha in Bengal, is a significant part of the Bengali culture. If any guest visits to a house, then serving him/her with cha and biscuit is the traditional attribute in any Bengali household. We drink cha at probably the weirdest of times— be it 8in the morning or 2 in the afternoon or 10at night! Although the growing trend of coffee in the CCD could not match the feeling of drinking tea in a matir vad e cha (drinking tea in an earthen pot). In every Bengali house, cha is a common thing and it is a fact that Bengalis love their tea like no one else and they even spend hundreds to buy the best quality of tea from the store. You can spot a tea vendor at every nook and corner and they provide with a lot of variety like lemon tea, masala tea, milk tea, kesar tea etc. And furthermore, being a Calcuttan it is a must to have a cup of tea during the debate over political or several issues from the para corners to the tables of Coffee House. Though there are a lot of shops in Kolkata yet you should try Kesar Chai at Balwant Singh’s eating house located at Bhawanipore.
Best place – Balwant Singh’s Eating House, Tea stalls near Jadavpur University,
Cost- Rs 20 onwards.
2. PHUCHKA – Well this delicacy is everyone’s favourite and known by several names in several places; Kolkata’s Phuchka can give a hard competition to Golgappas or Panipuri of different state. This street food is always a hit among the Bongs and it’s quite cheap compared to the other street foods available in Kolkata.
The Phuchkawalas can be spotted everywhere in and around Kolkata- at every corner of the street. The use of tetul jol (tamarind) and pudina (mint) water gives the phuchka an added oomph. In addition to the delicious phuchka, there goes the curd and mithi (sweet) chutney along with some jhuri bhaja spreaded over in a Doi(dahi) Phuchka. The average cost for one person is Rs 20 but it can go upto Rs 50 as well because we just can’t satisfy with just ten or twenty rupees. Just one suggestion – after you have finished eating, don’t leave the vendor unless and until he gives you that extra piece of phuchka (phaow) for free because that’s the ritual.
Best place – Vivekananda Park, Gariahat, New Market
Cost- Rs 20-30 (1)
In Kolkata, along with all the tasty street foods, ghugni is a very popular and mouth –watering snack item. It’s a simple recipe made with dried yellow or white peas and cooked with spices, served as it is or jazzed up as a chatpata with some chopped onions, green chillies, chopped coriander to give a nice lift to the dish, a drizzle of imli chutney, green coriander chutney sprinkled on top with some special roasted garam masala to give it a zing. The squeeze of lemon makes it even better. The same dish with some variations in the recipe is known in Gujarat and Mumbai as Ragda and served along with aloo tikki and as Matara kay in U.P. among the Bengalies, this is generally served with luchi (deep fried unleavened bread), paratha, roti or of course can be devoured alone at any time.Mangsher Ghugni has been described as a “Kolkata trademark”
During the Durga puja time or in any fair in Kolkata and in suburbs, whether it is Book fair or Handicraft fair, ghugni stall can easily be found among many other food stalls. During the time of Rath Yatra, eating Ghugni in the Rath Yatra fair is a tradition along with Jilipi (Jalebi) and papar bhaja (Papad Fry).
Best place – Vivekananda Park, Zaika, Park Street, Fairlie Place and Stock Exchange, BBD Bag
Cost- Rs 10-20 per plate
4. KOCHURI – Being Bangali, who does not like to eat gorom gorom kochuri and cholar dal . This food is so famous among the people in Kolkata that if you get a bit late to reach your favourite vendor you won’t possibly get a single piece to satisfy your hunger. In certain places, there is a huge demand for kochuri.There is a lot of variety available like — ‘daler kochuri’,‘macher kochuri’, ‘koraisutir kochuri’, ‘radhabollobi’, ‘hing’er kochuri’, club kachuri etc.
‘Macher Kochuri” can also prove to be a delightful experience and it tastes heavenly.This is very special in North Calcutta especially in Shyambazar –
Hatibagan area it is usually made with mach (fish) stuffed inside the kochuri. This is quite affordable and the best time to visit the store is either early morning or evening.
Best Place – Putiram , Maharaja, Maharani, Shri Hari, Sharma Tea house
Cost – Rs 7-10 per piece.
5. SINGARA– Though Singara is the East-Indian version of a samosa, Bengali singara is little different than samosa, mainly because of the stuffing and also the shape. Bengali singaras tend to be triangular, filled with potato, peas, onions, diced almonds, or other vegetables, and are more heavily fried and crunchier than either shingara or their Indian samosa cousins.
Fulkopir singara (singara filled with cauliflower mixture) is another very popular variation, and is found mostly in the winter.
Singaras happen to be one of the best tongue seducers and also because it is cost-effective, it is found almost everywhere, be it a small food stall or a big one. And for the “bhojon roshik bangali”, singara and jilipi can be an ideal morning breakfast.
Best place – Maharaja, Maharani, Putiram, Shri Hari
Cost – 5-10 per piece
6. TELEBHAJA – Bengalies don’t think when they eat and that is the reason why we they are called ‘the craziest foodie’ in the house. In this ultra-tect world, where everyone is fighting fit, eating healthy food, Bongs are showing the world that they dont think about calories when it comes to food and they just love gorging on anything and everything and such is “telebhaja”.
This oily , unhealthy snack is everyones favourite .Telebhaja comes in different shapes and sizes and there’s a whole lot of variety available like there is ‘beguni’, ‘alur chop’, ‘mochar chop’ ‘capsicum’er chop’, ‘soyabean chop’ etc etc and the list goes on and on. this is alos cost effective and is readily available .
Best Place – Kashiram Shaw (Beadon Street) , Jihobor Jal (Dhakuri) , Potlar Dokan (Bagbazar)
Cost- Rs 2-10 per piece
7.ROLL – When one is in Kolkata, one has to taste the delicious cuisines. The heavenly street foods of this land are something that one cannot afford to miss. Among many street foods that the city has to offer, Kolkata’s roll is pure indulgence. there is a lot of variety available – Egg Rolls, Chicken Roll, Mutton roll, Kathi roll etc. Special kathi roll contains spiced, marinated meat kebabs that are barbecued until slightly charred, onions sauteed with pepper, chopped green chilli, and a dash of lime. The kababs and onions are packed into a golden-fried, flaky paratha, rolled up, and served wrapped in grease proof paper. Though the rolls are available on almost every corner, Nizam’s on Hogg Street in New Market is credited with creating the very first kathi roll.
The roll is ubiquitous in Kolkata, sold at street stalls as well as featuring on coffee shop menus in five-star hotels.
Best place – Zaika, (Park Street) , Nizam , Saima Roll centre (Rabindra Sadan), Kathi Roll centre ( Park street)
Cost – Rs 50-100
8. JILLIPI – Jalebi is one of the most popular sweets in India. Jalebis were first made in North and has become popular all over India. We Bengalis being the lovers of foods and more importantly sweets, we make Jalebi too our very own. It is known as ‘Jilipi’ among the Bengalis. It is made by deep-frying batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup. During a short trip in the streets of Kolkata, we can have jilipi in any famous sweet shops or even in the sweet shops, which is traditionally called in North Kolkata as ‘Khabarer Dokan’, which are famous for their business of selling various sweets like Balushahi, Goja, Malpowa, Amriti and many more. A Rather mela (Rath Yatra Fair) is always remains an incomplete journey without having the hot juicy and crucnchy Jilipi. Jilipi is also popularly served during the Ramadan or Diwali or even in marriage ceremonies.
Best Place – Maharaja-Maharani, Balwant Singh Eating House , shops in Lord Sinha Road
Cost – Rs 7- 15 per piece
9. ROSOGOLLA – Mishti or Sweets are officially designated to Bengalis, and Bengalis always find a nostalgic association with sweets. Rossogolla, a Bengali traditional sweet, is one of the most widely consumed sweets in India and is considered to be Bengali’s most famous culinary weapon.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Bengali cuisine borrowed heavily from Oriya culinary traditions and the popularity of Rasgulla spread to the neighbouring state of Bengal. A sweet seller named Haradhan Moira probably has introduced the dish to Bengal. In the year 1868, Nobin Chandra Das, a local confectioner of Kolkata, simplified the recipe to make sponge rossogollas. His son, K.C. Das started canning the product and made the Rossogolla the biggest Bengali export to the world.
Nolen Gurer Rossogolla is the seasonal variations of Rossogolla. Mishti or Sweets are officially designated to Bengalis, and Bengalis always find a nostalgic association with sweets. Rossogolla, a Bengali traditional sweet, is one of the most widely consumed sweets in India and is considered to be Bengali’s most famous culinary weapon.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Bengali cuisine borrowed heavily from Oriya culinary traditions and the popularity of Rasgulla spread to the neighbouring state of Bengal. A sweet seller named Haradhan Moira probably has introduced the dish to Bengal. In the year 1868, Nobin Chandra Das, a local confectioner of Kolkata, simplified the recipe to make sponge rossogollas. His son, with addition of Notun Gur or Season’s Fresh Jaggery during the winter season thereby producing beige-coloured Rossogollas. This is a gastronomical experience that probably cannot be translated into words. There is also mango Rosogolla available in Kolkata which is equally yummy. The sweet shops add mango essence and flavour to make mango rosogollas. Baked Rosogolla is another delicious mouth watering type of Rosogolla with kheer pouring upon it along with almonds slices and a sprinkle of saffron.
Even though the knowledge that both Rossogolla and the Chhana does not solely belong to the Bengalis and have been imported, can be really heart-wrenching, it can’t take away the entire legacy of Bengal in sweet-making. Rossogollas will eternally belong to the Bengalis and without having the Rosogollas anyone’s visit to Kolkata is absolutely incomplete.
Best place – K.C.Das, Ballaram Mullick and Radharam Mullick , Ganguram, Putiram , Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy etc
Cost- Rs 10-50 per piece
10. KOLKATA’R BIRIYANI – Though Kolkata may not be so famous for biriyani unlike Hyderbad for Hyderbadi Biriyani or Lucknow for Lucknowi Biriyani yet it is in kolkata that the first biriyani was made. kolkata’s biriyani is not famous for the falvours or for the chicken/mutton but for the aloo (potato). Aloo is something we, bengali swear by. This poatoes enhance the tatse of our biriyani and we can easily boast about it. Even in Kolkata you can get aloo biriyani apart form chicken /mutton biriyani which is not so expensive at all.
Though there are various restuarants in and around kolkata that serves the best quality of biriyani yet now-a-days, biriyani corners have grown up in around the city, which is great for those who cant afford to go the restuarant to satisfy their cravings. The street side shops sell biriyani at a much lower cost than what we get at the restuarants so therefore it is quite cheap.
Best Place – India Restuarant (Khiderpore), Arsalan, Shiraz Golden Resturant (Park Circus) , Aminia, Oudh 1590 etc
Cost- Rs 160-180 for Chicken biriyani , Rs 180-200 for Mutton biriyani.
*Keep Eating & Exploring * *Thank You*