As I write about the Kolkata chronicles, time and again one word crops up. Food. Actually a city is never only about its historical artefacts, monuments or the buildings. The people, the crowd of the city and their habit characterizes the place. And when we talk about habits, can food habits lag behind?
So the city is famous for its fish and sweets, that is a well known fact. But, there are prizes beyond it too. In the latest global research ‘Taste of Travel’, the city of joy topped as the ‘Best Place for street food’ and, to be frank, the food enthusiasts weren’t surprised at all. For the gastronomically inclined crowd, this city, provides numerous choices throughout the road. From food across India to Chinese, Tibetan, Lebanese, Mughlai and continental delights — Kolkata street food has something for every platter. Writing about them while locked down for weeks, away from these delicacies had been hard on this writer. So consideration of the readers for the emotional upheaval of the author while reminiscing the golden days is expected. Time and again she might be overwhelmed.
So for those uninitiated I will share some of the most famous and talked about street foods that are tasty as well as pocket friendly. The list is never ending so I have chosen my top six.
- Kathi(Kati)Roll – Roll lovers of Kolkata can form a separate union by itself. The flour paratha is rolled up with your chosen stuffing of Egg or mutton or chicken or paneer with irresistible sauces, spices, and veggies. Rupees Forty and wholesome food are readily served. Expert suggestion, Hot Kathi Roll at Park Street not to be missed at any cost.
- Phuchka and Churmur – One may call them gol gappa or panipuri in other parts of India, but stuffed with mashed potatoes, sprinkled with spices, and then filled with tamarind chutney, pickled water, pudina, and lime – with its distinct Kolkata flavour, they can only be called Phuchka in Kolkata and confusing them with its other cousins from other parts of India is a sin.
Churmur is a subset of the Phuchka family, and is prepared by crushing phuchka, and mixing with mashed potatoes, onions, spices, and of course tamarinds – pulp of tamarind.
- Momo – Kolkata loves its momos, which these Tibetan imports, perhaps travelled to the city from the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Over time, the humble dumpling has quietly risen through the ranks of the city’s street food royalty and now commands a place alongside phuchka, kathi rolls. For the best results one may tour, the Territy Bazar and the Tibetan delight of Elgin road.
- Jahlmuri and Bhelpuri – In Kolkata you’ll find jhal muri(a mixture of puffed rice with spices, onion, oil, etc.) at just about every street corner and directly outside of nearly every place you visit be it a school, bank or stations. This easy to make dry snack is a favourite of the pedestrians, as they walk away eating the delightful snacks, carrying in a small container made of recycled newspapers, without any hassle at a price as low as rupees ten!
Bhelpuri is the elder brother of Jhal muri, so of course priced a little higher, it is a well-balanced mixture of different Muris, Papris, onions, potato, chutney of different kinds, bhujiya and coriander. Lake Road Bhelpuri is the best one I have tried yet.
- Ghugni Chaat – A mixture of yellow peas with ingredients like onions, tomatoes, coriander, chillies and spices holds a special place in my heart as I bonded the most with my boyfriend, who is currently my husband over a dish of ghughni chat outside the Kalighat metro station while returning from office.
- Telebhaja – While talking about Kolkata, how can I miss the telebhaja, crispy snack prepared by mixing various ingredients and available in many variations and suggested by some a viable “alternative job opportunity”.
Now I can, go on and on about these amazing street dishes along with many more like the south Indian dishes, chowmein, moghlai paratha. But, before I start crying, remembering all the amazing street dishes from Kolkata that are so delicious and mouth-watering I should stop here. Do make sure that you try all of these when in Kolkata.
Note : This is a part of blogs written for #BlochatterA2Z challenge