Kolkata- the city of joy is actually a place where you will find an abundance of joy amidst all atrocities. It’s because people here know how to keep themselves and others happy. Among all other recipes of joy and laughter, the main being our food. Yes the Kolkatans know very well that a way to a man’s ( women are no exception) heart is through food.
In Kolkata you will find all households with their fridges stuffed with vegetables, fish, meat and so many other items, but this doesn’t stop them from gorging mouthfuls at local streets! Kolkata street is such a place where you can get all the possible edibles available around- from Chinese delicacies to home-cooked rice and fish, to sophisticated sandwiches, beef steaks to local items like chats, paani- puri, rolls, pakoras etc. Momo stalls are famous too.
Another item which is exclusive of Kolkata street is Ghugni. Its basic constituent is boiled yellow peas/gram. It is served with a spicy gravy with sliced onion, lime or tamarind juice and coriander leaves on top. People from outside Kolkata confuse this item with Chana curry. You will find Ghugni stalls throughout Kolkata, and people queuing up infront of the stall to dig in!
Unlike papri chats in Delhi or Mumbai, Kolkata serves spicy Aloo chat lovingly called Aloo kabli. You will get sliced potato, tomato, onion, cucumber, small grams, loads of red chili powder or loads of lime juice and tamarind pulp. Thus you will eventually end up licking the paper plate they serve this item. Another such street food item which can be easily prepared at home, yet the Bengalis love to munch that on the street is Jhal Muri. Muri is puffed rice. This muri is mixed with a tinge of mustard oil, chopped onions, green chilies, chanachur (a spicy crispy mixture) to turn it to lucrative Masala muri.
Heard of Ghoti-gorom? I bet you haven’t if you are not from Kolkata. In a Ghoti-gorom mix, you will have abundance of baked sev (bhujia), chopped onions, green chilies and thin slices of Amra fruit (pardon me as getting the English name for this marvel was out of my reach). Amra adds a super tangy flavor to the Ghoti-gorom. And the most amazing part of this food is that it is always served hot as there’s a charcoal fire burning under the big vessel in which Ghoti-gorom is served!
Out of so many items what specially attracts you is paani-puris or Phuchka as we dearly call them in Kolkata. Many might outrightly say a no to these stalls, but if you taste them- you just can’t stop! They make all sorts of special fillings to please their customers. The basic mixture is made with mashed potato mixed with different spices, tamarind, chana (gram seed). This filling is often substituted with spicy Dum-aloo or ghugni.
Every lane has one or more stalls or shops of such street food. So to have a taste of these heavenly items, you don’t need to travel far. But there are some famous streets where such food items will make you crazy- literally! You can’t just get enough of them! Let’s have a look on some of such modest lanes:
Russell Street: If you are looking for the city’s best chats and phuchkas, this is your destination. But Russell Street’s specialty is the Ghugni-chat. With ghugni filled to the brink of the dish, extra onions, extra ginger, green chilies, and overflowing tamarind pulp, you are sure to lick the plate. Don’t worry, everyone does so!
Lord Sinha Road (Infront of AC Market): Can you just shop without digging into delicious munchies? Well, we the Bengalis definitely can’t! The street in front of AC market floods with such yummy food stalls. Their specialty- chana jor garam, a tangy mixture of boiled chana, spices and loads of lime. Pav Bhaji is definitely not a Kolkata snack, but pav stuffed with dry fruits- a Kolkata invention for sure. You can’t miss this unique item at Mayaram.
Decker’s Lane:Known as Office-para, this place can be termed the foodies paradise in Kolkata. Shall I start with the list of items you get here? Wait, hold your breath! Phuchka, aloo kabli, ghugni, egg roll, chowmien, fried rice, chili chicken, chicken manchurian, biriyani, chicken chap, fish fry, fish kabiraji, chicken cutlet, anda toast, momo, veg stew, luchi-alur dom (puri-sabji), chana-bature,lassi, nimbu paani, gola…….there are more. So what you have to do is, just drop in here! If you doubt the quality of these food, then let me inform you that World Health Organizations has recently in a survey declared that the Decker’s Lane food is one of the best street food found throughout the world. Cheers!
Street food of Kolkata is crazy, and I bet if you taste it once, you will feel like coming to Kolkata again and again. Very recently it was festival time here and among the several Durga idols, street foodies like me could not keep my mouth empty for once! Here with just 10rs you can have a stomach full breakfast. I am sure you won’t get this quality food at this rate anywhere in the world- an open invitation to all. Come, celebrate life with us.