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PATNA VEG FOOD TOUR

The historically rich land of Bihar has a diverse cuisine with a plethora of delicacies. The scrumptious and unique Bihari dishes are a treat for foodies hankering for local flavours. Fascinated by the enticing food stories from the state, we decided to explore its vibrant foodscape beyond the most celebrated litti chokha. So here we are all ready with an amusing food series that brings you the gastronomic details from different regions of the state. It is not just a journey of taste but an expedition to collate stories – stories that delights, stories that informs and stories that inspires.

 

Today we bring you an fascinating food exploration from the capital city of Bihar. It is a busy city with an amazing heritage and culture and also full of amusing people. So let’s see what the journey holds for us. We are so glad to have been joined by Mayank who is a young and passionate food blogger from the city. 

 

We began our journey quite early in the morning from the vicinity near the Patna station as we wanted to start with some amazing local breakfast. Before heading to the most crowded eatery in the area we went to the very famous Mahavir Mandir to pay our reverence to Lord Hanuman. We partook some prasad and set out for Bhola ji’s nashte ki dukaan. It was an insanely crowded place stuffed with people jostling to catch a quick breakfast. The affordable breakfast thali available here consisted of fresh hot puris, jalebi, potato and chana sabzi, dahi vada and raita. Just for 30 rupees the quantity of food is so good that it keeps you  going for a long time. The home styled food was quite good and filling. The place was thronged by office goers waiting to fill them up with some carbohydrate rich stuff before setting off for the daily grind.

From there we went to the iconic Puraani Litti Ki Dukan very close to the previous place for the taste of Bihar’s legendary litti and chokha. The place was abuzz with people busy eating the delicacy. We interacted with the genial owner who introduced us to the nuances of this dish. The freshly made litti and chokha tasted heavenly; especially the interplay of the flavours from mustard oil and ghee. Here we also tried crisp hot chandrakala which is a disc shaped traditional fried pastry filled with khoya and dry fruits. 

Next was the turn of another famous street side snack called sev buniya and our destination was Bhanu sweets. Before trying a delicious plate of sev dahi buniya, we made a quick visit to the facility where it was being prepared. Among the three types of combination we went for the sev, buniya and dahi combo and it was super hearty. We finished it off with a cup of tea and some light hearted conversation. 

 

The following destination was a fuchka stall. These crisp and hollow puris stuffed with potatoes and flavoured water are amazing flavour bombs. It is a much loved street food here in Patna and being fuchka lovers ourselves we couldn’t escape the urge of trying some. First we tried the aloo cut which was a zesty boiled potato and spice based mixture and then the ubiquitous fuchka. 

From there we arrived at a humble cart that had some neatly arranged transparent boxes full of different healthy munchies and a hot wok placed over a potable coal fire. We were there to try a pocket friendly wholesome snack called Bhunja that is a popular snack for those who are inclined towards affordable nutritious stuffs. It is a mixture made with a preferred amount of grains, cereals and legumes. You can choose your preference and witness them being dry roasted right in front of your eyes, mix them with or without onions, chillies etc. Just pop it and keep munching till your heart content. 

 

Next was the turn for some sweets and what could be better than spotting the famous Maner Ke Ladoos, a traditional sweet treat from the small town of Maner. These are a special variant of another popular North Indian sweet called motichoor ladoos that are adored for their deep fried super tiny chickpea flour based pearls. It was soft, luscious and they just vanished inside the mouth. It was followed by Bergami, another traditional sweet that is made up of paneer chunks that was firm and syrupy. 

 

We wrapped up this simple food tour with a special paan that was intended to cleanse the palate and aid digestion. The street food here is a mix of fun treats and healthy filling stuffs. The Bihar food sojourn started on an exciting note.

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THE KOLKATA BIRYANI TRAIL

As a potpourri of various traditions and cultural influences, Kolkata’s cuisine is rich, extensive and vibrant. However, that one dish which has never ceased to win the hearts of the food lovers, is the Kolkata Biryani. A close cousin of the Lucknowi Biryani, Kolkata Biryani is loved for its subtle taste and less robust yet toothsome flavours. 

Apart from the long grain fragrant rice, aromatic whole spices, good quality meat, optimum use of seasonings and the dum style of cooking, it’s the huge chunks of fried potatoes that lends a unique dimension to its flavour profile. 

The city’s deep seated love for this delicacy is clear through the presence of innumerable biryani joints, both small and big or new and old. With its quintessential characteristics, Kolkata biryani is class apart whose distinguishing feature is the use of potatoes. 

Kolkata (or Calcutta) biryani owes its origin to Lucknow. It originated in the kitchen of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last ruler of Awadh when he moved to Kolkata from Lucknow. Every biryani aficionado will agree that the best Kolkata biryani can only be found in the city and nowhere else. Our quest to taste the best biryani in Kolkata led us to the kitchen of the stalwart chef Manzilat Fatima, who belongs to the lineage Nawab Wajid Shah and to an old, popular eatery in the Northern fringe of the city named Dada Boudi Biryani. 

Come let’s walk you through the experience. It was a privilege to learn the niceties of this stellar dish from someone who has perceived it in close quarters through handed-down recipes and stories. 

Through her popup restaurant that specialises in Awadhi cuisine, Manzilat has been serving happiness to all the food lovers out there. No wonder her chicken and mutton biryani are the talk of the town. Driven by deep passion and love to play with flavours, she and her team serves magic to the discerning customers. Manzilat showed us how to make a classic Kolkata style chicken biryani that anybody can recreate at their home. 

Before stepping into the kitchen, we shared a brief conversation over a gorgeous cup of pink chai and some Ulte Tawa Ke Paranthe.  During the tete-tete, she told us about the apocryphal story of how potatoes came to be a part of the Kolkata biryani. It was soon time to start with the cooking. The irresistible, fragrant biryani was ready in just four easy looking steps. But the masterpiece was a result of passion and expertise. It was a joy to see Manzilat play with the ingredients with such effortless ease. 

The biryani was like a warm cuddle. The subtle and hearty flavours in every morsel sent us into a state of calm bliss. Those yearning for a classic Kolkata biryani must try it at Manzilat’s. The potatoes tasted great as well.  We had paired the biryani with burani raita. The meal at Manzilat ended with a brilliant sooji ka halwa.

After trying the classic, Kolkata style chicken biryani from Manzilat, the following day we set out to try it from one of the city’s hugely popular biryani joints named Dada Boudi hotel in Barrackpore. Situated in the Northern part of the city, Barrackpore had gained much relevance during the British Raj, as it formed the administrative and military base then. 

We took an electric train ride to reach the historical town of Barrackpore. On alighting from the train we straightaway headed to their biryani factory where the day’s final batch of biryani was going to be prepared. The factory was like a huge room where an army of cooks were busy preparing for the mission. The sight of the large cauldrons, some over the gas stoves and some over the wood fire was absolutely thrilling. Here we met the industrious team of cooks and associates who diligently carried out the task of preparing the biryani. Soon we realised that the whole process from beginning to the end is thoroughly structured and so for us it was like watching one step smoothly transiting into the next and so on. What really impressed us was the sheer dexterity and enthusiasm of the fellows working in tandem. We were amused by the way they were managing the huge fire and the enormous amount of heat emanating from the same without complaining. 

 

Soon after the biryani got ready, they were loaded into a goods carrier and dispatched to the hotel. The eatery was crowded to the brim of which half were eating in the seating area and half had queued up for the takeaway. Before digging into our plate, we spoke to Bapi da who told us about the place, it’s speciality and the reason behind it’s unwavering popularity. We couldn’t help but notice the sparkle in his eyes as he spoke about the place. Finally we settled down to eat the famous mutton biryani of Dada Boudi hotel. One morsel of this scrumptious fare just won our heart. The flavours were varied yet subtle. The generous piece of mutton was tender and succulent. The rice was flavourful and fluffy and last but not the least, the potato added a comforting touch to the whole dish. Undoubtedly this was the best we have had in Kolkata. 

So this was the story of our Biryani trail in Kolkata. There are many iconic places in the city that serve amazing biryani. We intend to try them on our future visit.

 

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KOLKATA EATING EXPERIENCE: PICE HOTEL, GOLBARI KOSHA MANGSHO, LADYKENI ETC.

 

This post is brings you a medley of popular traditional Bengali delicacies from some of the renowned and legendary eateries across the city of Kolkata. In this expedition, we were accompanied by our young and gracious host Pamela Das who guided us with useful insights and snippets regarding the same.

We started the food tour from a very special place called Suruchi self help restaurant. It’s the city’s oldest Bengali restaurant and is completely owned and operated by women. These women are a league of brave hearts who have battled grave adversities and have emerged strong and resilient. They are the inmates of shelters run by All Bengal Women’s Union, an NGO that works with disadvantaged women and girls. Due to their diligence and skill, Suruchi has earned a name among the masses with its easy on the pocket, home style food. Here we tried a basic combination of steamed rice with dimer jhol (egg curry) followed by a couple of pithe (rice flour based desserts) with payesh (rice and milk pudding). Though the egg curry was thin, light on palette yet it was extremely delicious. Among the desserts we loved the cardamom flavoured patishapthas.

Meeting the resilient womenfolk in the kitchen and hearing about their stories of struggle and success was a inspiring experience. From there we went on to try a massive Bengali spread at the iconic pice hotels named Swadhin Bharat Hindu Hotel whose origin dates back to the British rule. Situated near the College street, this place was frequented by legends and stalwarts from different fields. Pice hotels are humble eateries that serve traditional Bengali cuisine at affordable rates. They have a pretty extensive lineup of traditional fish based Bengali dishes. We ordered 11 items including rice, dal, fish curries and chutneys. The food was fresh and delicious. We loved eating it from the banana leaves. The service was prompt and satisfactory. The crowd over here included traders, office goers and shoppers.

After that heavy scrumptious meal we headed to have some classic sweets from the legendary Bhim Chandra Nag which is believed to be the birthplace of the popular Bengali sweet called Ladikeni. It is a syrup laden deep fried sweet made of chenna or native cottage cheese. As per the legends this sweets was created as a tribute to the  lovely and charming Lady Canning who was the wife of Lord Canning. Along with the ladikeni we also tried sitabhog and misti doi. Sitabhog is like a sweetened rice flour based vermicelli while misti doi is sweetened curd. Everything, especially the ledikeni, was outstanding.

After that sweet rush we went to Princep Ghat, which is one of the oldest recreational spots in the city. Watching the magnificent structures like the Vidyasagar Setu and the palladium porch at Princep Ghat over a cup of invigorating lebu cha (lemon tea) and ghoti gorom (savoury snacks) was a comforting experience. We spent some time on the banks of river Hooghly admiring it’s majesty.

After that leisurely break we reached our final destination for the day i.e Golbari in Shyambazar. It is one Kolkata’s legendary eateries that has been around for over a century. We were there to try their iconic mutton kosha with porota. The dark brown, slow cooked rich mutton gravy with oil floating on the top was heavenly. It lived up to its reputation though the amount of oil might scare away the health freaks. This journey was a special one for we got to try some of the real flavours of Kolkata.

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A GLIMPSE INTO BENGALI CUISINE, LIFESTYLE AND CULTURE

 

During our Kolkata food tour, our quest to understand the Bengali way of life a little more closely through its food, cultural anecdotes and references led us to the warm, genial and amusing company of a wonderful Bengali couple who were clearly ardent foodies. Restaurateurs Piyali and Sunando Banerjee, have translated their passion into profession through their culinary venture named Hanglaatherium. So brace yourselves for some amazing insights, great company, endearing interaction and of course some delicious food. The agenda for the day was to visit to a local market to learn about the Bengali cuisine essentials and to try a usual Bengali meal. Hence we started with a visit to the Gariahat fish and vegetable market. It is one of the city’s oldest and biggest market. Fish is the star element of the rich and vibrant Bengali cuisine. It is an indispensable part of the daily meal and such is the craze that more than one preparation graces the average Bengali lunch platter. Their cogent love for fish gets reflected in the busy and the chaotic scene at a fish market where their enthusiasm peaks as they select the best catch for the day. As we stepped inside the walled precincts of the Gariahat Fish market with our host Piyali, a regular visitor to this place, we were thrilled by the sight and smell of the mind boggling variety of live fishes. Piyali walked us through the common spices that preferred for daily cooking. There were Rui, Katla, Pomfret, Bhetki, Tryangra, Illish, Magur and many more. Piyali’s deep knowledge about the nitty gritties of the cuisine and her enthusiasm to acquaint us with the same made us fall in love with the experience. As we made our way through the sea of fishes, we got enlightened about their uses and benefits. Apart from getting familiar with the identities of the fishes, we also came to know about some socio cultural contexts involving these fishes. For example we learnt how the rui or katla fish is a mean of cementing the ties between the bride and the grooms family. In due course of the conversation we also came to know about the two categories of Bengalis, i.e the Ghotis and the Bangals, their prolonged underlying rivalry that has spilled even onto the football fields and their different culinary preferences in spite of having the common ingredients landscape being the same. From fish section we went to the vegetable section to learn about the favourite picks of the people of Bengal. We came to know that the Bengalis are equally fond of vegetables and the cuisine has iconic range of vegetarian delicacies too. Piyali showed us some of the usual fares like Pumpkin, it’s flower, plantain stem and blossom and some of the unusual yet coveted fares like maan kochu, different kinds of leafy greens vegetables etc. After that insightful market visit it was time to head to her home to taste a basic breakfast fare of luchi, sada aloor tarkari, begun bhaja and rosogolla. But before that Piyali’s spouse Sunando took us to a nearby crowded eatery selling an interesting thing called Patai Porota. As the name suggested, it was a flatbread that had borne the brunt of ruthless palm beating. The resultant fluffy and flaky mass is eaten with yellow pea curry or some sweet stuff. It was tasty but not outstanding. On reaching their home we were joined by one of their close friends Avijit dada. All the walking had made us quite hungry. Piyali quickly whipped up the sada aloor tarkari using just three to four ingredients. Sunando fried the luchi and soon the table was set for the meal and a hearty conversation. The subtle and soulful meal was accompanied by an amusing conversation about some of the quintessential traits and idiosyncrasies of the Bengali people. So there were the references to Borolin antiseptic cream, Dim paruti, Sunlight detergent bar, Horlicks health drinks. We are so grateful for this endearing encounter full of food and cultural connotations.

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CHINESE FOOD TOUR IN KOLKATA

Kolkata is a melting pot of cultural diversity. It has embraced migrants from different parts of the world and made them its own. One such community is the Chinese community that first set foot in the city during the British rule. Since it was the capital of the country, many Chinese families got attracted to settle here. And that is how the Chinese settlement came to existence in the central part of Kolkata. In this blog we will take you on a journey to explore some of the popular street foods across the Chinese settlements including Tiretti Bazar and Tangra. To guide us about the locality, cultural scenes and the food, we were joined by our gracious and dynamic host Pamela Das.

We started the tour early in the morning from Teritti Bazar. The place is known for the daily morning street market where one can find numerous traditional Chinese breakfast items. These are mostly prepared and sold by the Chinese families living across the locality. On Sundays the crowd swells up with food enthusiasts thronging the place for pork baos, sui pao, sauces and condiments etc.

Our picks included pork bao, rice pudding, fried rice balls, sweet crispy rajma stuffed bun, pork pastry, meatball soup and prawn papad. Of these the best thing was the sweet rajma stuffed bun and the least pleasant one was the meatball soup as it was too bland.

After the heavy breakfast we moved to Tangra which is known as the new Chinatown. Apart from the numerous factories and units, this place had earned the reputation of being a hub for great traditional Chinese food. Most of the iconic eateries over here are family run. Though their ambience is unpretentious, their food is much coveted. Here we tried wonton noodles or the singhara chow as the Bengali’s call it at two different places. At the first place Ahyusen, we saw how the noodles were being using a tedious, ancient noodle making technique which was so fascinating. At the second place, Ah Yung, the wonton noodles were bit more flavourful and robust.

After that hearty wonton trail we arrived at our final destination Eau Chew which is deemed as the oldest family run eatery in the city. Here we tried two of their hot selling dishes named Chimney Soup and Josephine Noodles. The sensational names got us excited.

Chimney soup was a lightly seasoned broth containing eggs, chicken, prawn and vegetables. The unique thing about this dish is the brass vessel in which it was served. It has burning charcoal inside it. There was a chimney-like outlet through which the heat dissipated. Josephine noodles on the other hand was pan fried noodles that had miscellaneous ingredients. Both the dishes were super yummy. With that hearty meal and warm conversations with the owners at Eau Chew, we came to the end of this delightful tour. 

 

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BURRABAZAR FOOD WALK

 

The neighbourhood of Burrabazar is a prominent trading hub of Kolkata. We were there for a quick food walk during our Kolkata visit. On reaching here we were greeted by narrow lanes lined with old old, unkempt buildings and filled with a jostling crowd consisting of porters, traders, businessmen, shoppers etc. The place has countless wholesale shops, selling everything from textile to pharmaceuticals. Despite all this commotion, this famous shopping destination, has evolved into a popular street food destination as well. The food available in and around here is mostly native to the Sindhi and Marwari community that settled here in late nineteenth centuries after a section of them migrated to Kolkata. So come let’s see what all dishes did we try during this evening food tour across this stretch

 

We began with Kandoi Sweets, an old establishment that sells a wide array of authentic Gujarati snacks and sweets that is less available in other parts of the city. Here we tried the Gulaab Pak, a rose flavoured burfi and Urad dal ladoo, a wintertime special sweet whose base ingredient is Urad dal. The former one had a strong taste of rose that came from the rose petals used in the preparation of the burfi.

While moving to our next destination Jain Bros, we stopped by a roadside vendor to bite into some juicy pieces of Jicama which is known as Shank Aloo in Bengali. The fruit was very refreshing.

At Jain Bros we tried some green peas kachori with a thick and spicy potato curry. The sweetness of the peas infused a delightful flavour to the combo. The place is so popular that it is frequented by generations that too from different corners of the city.

 

After that quick grab we tasted some luscious carrot halwa from the adjacent shop named Panditji Halwa Wale. The unique thing about this halwa was the slight burnt flavour that came from the halwa that had stuck to the sides of the kadhai while being cooked. It is available only during the winters.

The next destination was another popular snacks shop named Ambika Bhujiyawala. They had a huge range of snacks and sweets. We decided to try their crisp and flaky onion kachori that had a spicy onion and besan (chickpea flour) filling. Along with three kinds of chutneys it was a treat.

After that spicy stuff it was time to try some sweet treats. Hence we stopped by Gopal Kulfiwala for some traditional kulfi. It is not the regular brick and mortar eatery but a makeshift stand on which Gopal bhai had set up all his containers and bottles. This kulfi was quite decent.

Continuing with the sweet trail, we reached Kaligodam, an old sweet shop famous for it’s boondis and ladoos. The sight of the freshly made golden orange boondis made us salivate. We grabbed a small helping of this traditional sweet and tried it with savoury sev. The boodis were yummy.

 

Next destination was Yadav Milk Supply shop that is known for their pure milk and malai based products. Our pick was a classic unsweetened malai roll that was definitely a treat for a dairy product enthusiasts like us.

The stroll down this lane led to Badri Kachori wala, a favourite joint for all kachori lovers over here. Their’s one was a spicy yet hearty combination of khasta kachori topped with besan potato curry and sev.

From there we went to try the Mihidana ladoos from Tiwari Sweets. The desi ghee ladoos were fresh, soft, greasy and luscious. Furthermore we couldn’t resist ourselves from trying a plateful of kulfi falooda. The drizzle of rose syrup on the top just elevated the lusciousness to the next level.

A few steps ahead we beheld a snacks seller who was doling out bhujiya mix to the shopkeepers and traders over there. We tried some of this mixture and realised how light and zesty it was. This inexpensive munchies was fun.

From there we headed on to check out the regular meal thali at a old Gujarati Basa. Basa is like a mess that serves no onion garlic, home style meals to many locals who don’t have the luxury to savour a home cooked meal. The food here was very basic but quite wholesome.

We wrapped up the tour with a glass of hot milk from Bansilaal Sharma. It’s consumed for health benefits. Since we had it quite late in the evening, the milk that we got to drink was the portion that had thoroughly reduced due to continuous boiling. As a result it had become dense and sweet.

It was a hectic yet gratifying food tour.

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NON VEG FOOD WALK AT ZAKARIA STREET, KOLKATA.

 

Chitpur is one of the oldest localities of Kolkata. And nestled here, near the Nakhoda Masjid, is one of the famous food destinations in the city named Zakaria Street. During Ramzan this place is abuzz with various foods prepared for Iftar. On regular days too it’s a haven for biryanis, kebabs, haleem, halwa etc. We had visited this stretch during December last year along with our gracious host Pamela Das. Let’s take you on a walking tour of the place and acquaint you with some of the popular flavours.

 

Our first destination over here was the Bombay Hotel. As we reached this old eatery, we were welcomed by a crowd of happy customers and enticing aromas of different curries and breads. We tried their spicy yet wholesome Dal Gosht with Khamiri roti. It was quite rich, high on chilli, flavourful meal that was easy on the pocket.

The second stop was Dilli 6, an eatery specialising in delicacies from Old Delhi. The cook here was very well informed about the eating scene at Delhi. After a quick and hearty chat with him, we went on to try their famous Chicken Afghani. This creamy and buttery grilled chicken based dish was pure indulgence. It was smooth, comforting and had a clear note of sweetness.

From there we went to the third destination named Taskeen. It is an institution when it comes to fried chicken at this part of the city. Their Murg Changezi which is essentially a double fried chicken based appetizer was phenomenal. The genial owner informed us how it was different from the Changezi that we Delhiites are familiar with and also how the marinade for the dish is made using 51 different ingredients. It was a mind blowing revelation indeed. We finished it off with some Kesariya falooda which was rich and distinctly luscious.

Our fourth stop was a cart selling Anarsa or deep fried sweet rice flour dumpling. It is quite a popular snack with the daily workers from Bihar, who reside in this area. These super economical snacks gave then a quick respite from intermittent hunger pangs that they experience between meals.

 

Next we checked in to our fifth destination, Baba tea stall, for a quick tea break. It was super crowded and the smell of the boiling beverage was so reassuring. People were joyfully chatting over copious amount of tea that was being served in bhars or clay cups. The tea was quite good.

After that invigorating sip we headed on to try the fabled Suta kebab from Adams kebab. But in between we tried a small helping of freshly made kalakand and patti samosa from two different places that we visited impulsively. The Kalakand was quite delicious while the potato filled tiny samosas were average. On reaching Adams, we were deeply fascinated to oversee the preparation of the suta kebab. Putting the soft kebab mixture on the skewer with the help of a cotton thread or suta was such a skillful task. The grilled mutton kebabs had a granular appearance and texture while the taste was phenomenal.

 

The final destination of this gastronomic tour was the century old Haji Allauddin sweet shop. Their sweets, especially halwas, are well renowned. It was a joyful opportunity to listen to the young owner Hamd who zealously acquainted us with some of their hot selling fares. Their signature Batissa halwa just blew our mind with its unusually luscious taste and textures. We also finished off some mava ladoo, akhrot halwa and dahi balushahi. The mava ladoos are one of the oldest sweets of this shop and were delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed the non veg food walk across this bustling stretch.

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PLACES TO EAT AT IN CENTRAL KOLKATA

The central part of Kolkata is a wide stretch that includes office areas, shopping destinations and educational hub. The office zone includes the stretch of BBD Bag. Lined with numerous government and private office buildings and shops, the area is also home to one of the most popular street food zones in the city. Hence it is thronged by a crowd that mostly composed of office goers and loyal food enthusiasts. So if you are on a food trail in the city of joy, then you shouldn’t miss out the delightful treats available here. Along with our gracious host Pamela Das, we strolled down these vibrant lanes exploring the wide range of street food and the heritage. After exploring the street food scenario across the commercial and administrative hub in Central Kolkata, we went across to the shopping hub in this zone to explore some of the popular eateries across JLNehru Road, Dharamtala and Camac street. These places attract a motley crowd from the city and beyond. Below is the list of eateries that we visited in this tour.

 

ARUN TEA STALL: Since there were a lot of iconic places to be explored in the area, we started our food tour quite early in the morning with a refreshing cup of tea along with some club kachori and sabzi. The saffron flavoured tea, a specialty of this place, was by far the best tea that we had in Kolkata. People who love spicy flavours would love the combination of club kachori and potato sabzi. It was great speaking to the genial Arun bhai about the origin and evolution of the place.

CHITTO BABUR DOKAN: From there we took a taxi ride to Dacres Lane, an iconic spot that is locally known as Office Para. Dated back to the time of the British Rule, it is one of the oldest surviving street food centers in the city. On reaching there we were greeted by a lane full of eateries some of which were quite old. We made our way through the staggering variety of food all over to reach the iconic Chitto Babur Dokan, a shop whose name is synonymous with the locality itself. The eatery focuses on light and hearty veg and non veg dishes that caters to the hunger of the office goers coming to this area. We tried their two bestselling offerings. First was light and hearty chicken stew and toasted bread and second was a humble khichuri platter. The mild flavours of the European stew and the Bengali khichuri have rendered them a hit with the customers who look for some light stuff for lunch.

 

KONA DUKAN: From there we walked towards BBD, Dalhousie and reached the busy area near the Calcutta Stock Exchange. This area is best known for great tea, sandwiches, toasts etc. No wonder during lunch break or any possible break, people come together to discuss the day with each other. There isn’t a more rewarding sight than watching people bond over food in a zone where it’s all about business and commerce. Here we tried a luscious malai toast from the ever busy Kona Dukan. Those who have tried the combination will know it’s enchanting taste. And the best part of the experience was we discovered that a little sprinkle of salt and pepper just elevated it to the next level.

 

 

BHOLA SANDWICH: Next we tried a comforting cheese corn toast from Bhola Sandwich. Fresh white bread slices joined by a creamy stuffing and then grilled to perfection made for a quick and happy snack.

KULFIWALA: The Kulfi Wala in front of the stock exchange sells a luscious range of natural fruit kulfis. Our pick was the orange kulfi that was quite refreshing. It comprised of a whole scooped out orange stuffed with real orange pulp and reduced milk mixture.

ANADI CABIN: Next destination was Anadi Cabin, a 02 year old eatery on JL Nehru road whose Mughlai Porota is a hot selling snack. The busy interior and the fascinating account of the owner was a clear testimony of its towering reputation when it comes to this particular snack. Mughlai Porota is a thick, crisp,flaky and truly hearty mince and veggie stuffed shallow fried parantha.

NIZAM’S: From there we crossed a sea of shops selling a wide range of things starting from electronics to clothes to reach New Market. Established in 1874 this place houses one of the oldest market buildings. Another very interesting thing here is the multitude of street vendors dotting this stretch. Our destination here was the iconic Nizam’s restaurant whose Kathi Rolls are nearly 118 years strong. You have to taste them once to realise it’s deliciousness that is the result of the combination of a well cooked paratha, yummy kebab, onions and lime juice.

TAJ MAHAL PAAN SHOP: After polishing off that legendary thing we grabbed a sweet paan from Tajmahal Paan shop to cleanse our palate and prepare our tummy for more treats.

NAHOUMS: Then we checked into Hoggs Market. Among the numerous shops selling clothes, toys etc stands tall one very famous cake shop named Nahoum’s. This 118 year old Jewish bakery is an emotion for many. Their cakes, tarts, brownies, cookies attract patrons from the city and beyond. We decided to try their Christmas time favourite plum cake. A bite of the fresh, warm, dense and dry fruit rich slice of this plum cake was so blissful.

VICTORIA VADA: From there we headed to Camac street to have crisp and light Moong Dal fritters from Victoria Vada. The owner told us about his 35 year old journey of selling these mouthwatering vadas. Since he started his business from Victoria Memorial, he retained this name after shifting to Camac Street so that people will identify him as their favourite one.

MASALA BREAD WALA: Next was the turn of an innovative masala bread that was a party of flavours and texture. White bread slices topped with sweet, savoury and tangy mixture of boiled potatoes and other fun stuff was phenomenal. And more so was the love with which the person arranged it for us was so heartening.

CHANA JOR GARAM SELLERS: The last thing we tried on this food tour was a traditional snack called Channa Jor Garam. It’s a dry mix of dried flattened channa, onions, spices etc. It is a light munchie thing that keeps you happy on the go. It was fun to interact with the two guys who were dressed up traditionally and were gleefully selling their fare in a traditional basket. We truly respect their enduring spirit for standing for such a long time with such a heavy basket isn’t an easy task.

 

 

 

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SOUTH KOLKATA FOOD TOUR

During our third day in Kolkata, we were all ready to explore the popular street foods available across the lanes of South Kolkata that is an aggregation of a residential section, a famous shopping destination and a melting pot of cultures from across the country. Hence this food exploration is an eclectic combination of South Indian, Punjabi and Bengali bestsellers that the foodies-both locals and visitors, love to gorge on. To guide us with this trail we have with us our genial host for the day, Sachika Ghosh herself is a loyal visitor at many of these eateries. Having grown up eating in this area she is best aware of most of the go to dishes that are affordable and hugely popular with the crowd dotting this area.

Our food journey started from the busy Lake Market area of South Kolkata that has a substantial population from the Southern States of India. And so by default our first stop was Rao’s Udipi Home, one of the most famous South Indian restaurant in the locality that has been visited by our late President APJ Abdul Kalam. Something that started as a lodging place is now a hub for authentic Udipi cuisine that is delicious, homely and affordable. We were excited to try their most selling fare which included soft idlis, crisp deep fried vadas and an equally great Masala Dosa. Everything that we tried had a homely vibe.

After a brief stroll surveying the marketplace dominated by shops selling South Indian essentials, we took a taxi ride to reach Balwant Singh Eating House in Bhowanipore. A favourite joint for morning walkers, office goers, shoppers and general visitors, their chai is highly famed. We were here to try two of their iconic beverages-Doodh Cola and steamed tea. The first one is a refreshing concoction of milk and cola. It’s had a very unique zingy and refreshing taste. The second one was a smooth, invigorating cup of milky tea that had been prepared in a novel manner. It is one of the favourite tea destinations in the city that caters to an eclectic crowd comprising of morning walkers to students.

 

Soon it was lunch time and hunger was making us restless. Sachika suggested that we should try some favourite Punjabi fare for lunch whose taste have endeared the Bengalis too. So we headed to Jai Hind Dhaba and ordered two interesting dishes that were quite different from the Punjabi classics dominating the menu. First one was the Egg Tadka, a Punjabi variation of the Bengali Egg Torka. We loved it’s comforting notes that emanated from the whole moong dal, scrambled eggs and aromatic warming spices. The second dish was Chicken Bharta. It was creamy and flavourful. The fun part about these two dishes were the clear Bengali touch bought in by the use of some quintessential Bengali ingredients.

We then walked towards Gariahat and Deshapriya Park. The area being a famous shopping destination in the city, it attracts a lot of crowds. And where there are people there is food that is delicious, affordable and that provides a quick relief from the hunger pangs. Undoubtedly the place has a plethora of snacking options. And as usual we are in search of some of the most popular eateries over here that have been delighting the foodies for a long time. We are glad to have Sachika with us who would be walking us through the lanes and thoroughfares introducing us to eclectic street food fares in the locality.

Our first stop over here was Balaram Mullick which is one of the city’s most reputed sweet shops. The huge variety of sweets over here was a testimony to the Bengali’s never ending love for sweets. The mind blowing variety just blew our mind and taking the owners recommendations into account we settled for baked rasogolla, baked mihidana, patishapta, gurer kanchgolla, gurer rasogolla and monohara. The sweets available in Bengal during the winter months are deemed special and are much coveted. It’s because most of them are made with the winter special date palm jaggery that is prized for its uniquely pleasant taste and aroma. All the sweets mentioned above were made with this nolen gur and their taste was just phenomenal. After that sweet overdose it was time for some savoury snacks. For this we arrived at one of the two immensely popular snack shops named Maharaj and Maharani. Situated close to each other they had started out as one shop, but are now operating separately. Their menus were almost the same but according to the public each specialised in different dishes. Maharaj excelled in Hinger Kochuri and Aloor Tarkari while Maharani’s best selling dish was Shinghara.

 

 

Fish being a staple of the Bengali cuisine, it is also savoured in the form of this irresistible snack called the fish finger. Our destination for the same was Shankar’s fry. Their yummy Bhetki fritter with its crisp, grainy exterior and the soft fleshy interior was such a piece of sheer joy. The smell, the taste and the contended crowd testified why it is considered as the King of Fish Fry.

Finally it was time to end the food tour with another ubiquitous snack best loving treat called puchka. Sachika took us to her favourite vendor in this part of the city. It’s Bengali version of Pani Puri. The stuffing and the water is quite distinct from the North Indian counterpart. The puchkas were simply addictive while the churmur was such a fun treat. With this we wrapped up another gratifying eating spree in the city of joy. See you soon with many other surprises. Till then keep walking and keep exploring.

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NORTH KOLKATA CLASSICS

North Kolkata Food trail that started from Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar followed by College Street has now extended to the historic lanes of Hedua, Bidhan Sarani and Shyambazar. Apart from the exciting colonial history that these places bear in their bosom, they are also home to some of the iconic eateries whose glory continues to enthrall foodies from all walks of life.  Most of the dishes available here are quintessential to this region. And a majority of them have been tickling our taste buds since aeons. Hence as we set to embark on the gastronomic journey, were super excited to partake not just its acclaimed taste but also the stories that they entail. And to guide us in this quest of ours we are being assisted by our gracious host Pamela Das a young food enthusiast who know these areas extensively.

While passing through the footpath of the busy thoroughfare of College Street, first we halted near a vendor selling another the favourite, quintessential Bengali snacks known as Jhal Muri. A potpourri of puffed rice, potatoes, spices etc.  mustard oil this ubiquitous snacks from Bengal is a zesty, filling, economical and convenient option to the random hunger pangs. No wonder this simple eclectic dish embodies the spirit of the city that is humble, joyful, endearing and vibrant.

From there we took a tram ride to reach Bidhan Sarani. Kolkata is the only city in India that uses this mode of transportation and hence it is one of the quintessential features of the city. Our destination here was the famous sweet shop Ghosh and Co. Pamela recommended their chocolate sandesh that are deemed as the best in the city. We were pretty surprised by this innovative sweet whose optimally sweet, balanced chocolaty taste was pure delight. We also tried the seasonal jaggery sandesh that was made with the season’s special date palm jaggery called the Notun Gur. This one surprised us with a coconut filling inside.

Next place was again a sweet shop that is an institution when it comes to the traditional Bengali sweet called Sandesh. A visit to the land of sweets in incomplete without paying a visit to the legendary Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandi who have been selling just sandesh since 1844. A morsel of their coveted Jalbhara was enough to cement their indisputable reputation of being the best sandesh maker in the city. We also loved their Mohini Sandesh, coffee sandesh.

From there we went to try some chaat from 80 year old Hedua Chaat Corner. Their Singhara with lentil stuffing and tikkiya chaat were hearty and fun. Soon it was time to try another popular evening time Bengali snacks called chop or vegetable fritters at the celebrated Lakshmi Narayan Shaw and Sons shop.

The Aam Choop and Beguni were delicious. After such deep fried savoury treats we arrived at Allen’s Kitchen to relish their special prawn cutlet. This greasy prawn fritter made with humble ingredients was truly indulgent.

Our penultimate stop was this iconic eatery named Mitra Cafe. We loved their best selling dish fish fry and chicken cutlet. It was soon time to wrap up this gratifying food trail that was full of flavours and stories. Stay tuned for more.