The aroma of the “singara” and the flavours in the “phuchka” are only two grains of sand in the world of food in Kolkata. The food fetish of Kolkata goes way back to God knows when. I am a complete back-bencher in the subject of history (if not for my loving, caring and very strict teacher, I would not have passed in the subject, let alone getting 86% marks in my secondary exams). As a man always loving the present, I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed if you visit Kolkata, if only for the food here. Carry some medicines though, for keeping your gastric juices flowing the right way. Being a selfish “know-it-all” Bengali, I will tell you only about my favourite foods. The rest you can always Google, I am sure you are a master in searching for stuff online.
The Biriyani, Kolkata Way
My personal favourite food in Kolkata is the “Biryani.” If you have not tasted it, well, you haven’t tasted heaven yet. Alright, that was quite an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. There are famous names that serve this food – a flavourful mix of rice, a piece of meat (chicken/mutton) and half a potato, with an egg thrown in sometimes. The brand names are Shiraz, Aminia, Royal Indian (this restaurant doesn’t give the potato), Nizam and Arsalan. There are many others which I cannot recollect because I don’t like them!
Rock ‘n’ Roll
The second on my list are the Kathi Rolls. Bengalis love their rolls – Chicken Roll, Mutton Roll, Egg Roll, and there are also vegetarian versions – the Vegetable Roll and Paneer Roll. There are many roadside stalls and corner shops that sell rolls. Go to any part of the city and you will get this. I love the rolls of Zeeshan and Nizam.
The Phuchka comes next in my list. When I was in my eating hay days, I could eat 50-60 of these round, deep-fried, crunchy balls made of semolina and wheat, with tangy potato filling, and tamarind water inside it. You put one into the mouth and you get the tangy, fiery, sour and spicy version of Ferrero Rocher. What did I just say? Oh, never mind!
Cha is Everything
Tea served in small earthen pots called “bharer cha” is something you cannot miss in the city. This is the elixir that keeps the people of the city alive and moving. Take away the tea, and the slow city will move at a snail’s pace (will probably stop completely). There are some famous hole-in-the-wall tea shops in almost every neighbourhood in Kolkata.
What you cannot miss is the fish. People love their fish here, specially the “hilsa” fish that you get during the monsoons (July to September). You will get good fish dishes in restaurants like Oh Calcutta, Bhojohori Manna and Koshe Kosha. There are other varieties of fish and many small restaurants across the city.
Before I forget, the “Nolengurer Sandesh”(only available during winter), “Rosogolla” and “Mishti Doi” are for the people with a sweet tooth. If you do not like sweets you are not a true Bengali. You even get sugar-free sweets if you are diabetic! Mithai and Balaram Mullick Radharam Mullick are my favourite stores, but you have lots of other brand names in the field of sweets.
When you have tried these, go talk to some Bengali folks on the streets, and ask about what other food you can try. You will find that the people would be more than eager to give you advice. We love doing that. This is our favourite hobby. The list of foods to try is long, and our food fetish will never become history.
- A list of what you absolutely must have in the beautiful Kolkata - July 12, 2017