If You Haven’t Been to These Epic Eateries, Then You Haven’t Truly Experienced Kolkata
No self-respecting foodie can miss out on these delicacies in the City of Joy!
If you thought cinema, football and adda are Kolkata’s calling? Think again!
There is one thing that supersedes all-food! In Kolkata food is a bigger religion than cricket and cinema. From local Bengali dishes to culinary influences from across the globe, and from substantial snacks to heavy meals, there is something to satiate all kinds of hunger in Kolkata.
Restaurants, sweet shops, street-side vendor, all have been judged (by generations of khaddo-roshik Bangali) on two simple parameters-quality and taste. These places have stood the test of time. The interiors may not be posh. But the taste can give any 5-star hotel a run for its money.
Warning! These are not for the faint hearted or the weight watchers; these are for those who live to eat.
Chinese Breakfast at Tiretti Bazaar
One of the most wholesome and affordable breakfast spots in Kolkata, Tiretti Bazaar is where Chinese immigrants who came to India as early as 1820. Locally known as China Town or Cheena Bazaa, you have to get here by 5:00 am (closed on Monday) for a portion of fish ball soup and meat loaf. There is also rice balls, momos and dumplings, an array of chops, fish sui mais, baos, pakoras and more! You can also try and buy Chinese sausages that are nothing like you have ever tasted.
Foodie note: Don’t ask for any recipes, you won’t get them. Here recipes are invaluable family heirloom — they don’t give it out to strangers!
Location: Sunyet Sen Street, near Lal Bazaar Police Headquarters
Cakes and Tarts at Nahoum & Sons
The best cakes in town. Period. Nestled in the narrow lane of Sir Stuart Hogg Market (what we know as New Market) Nahoum & Sons was founded in 1902 by Nahoum Israel Mordecai, a Baghdadi Jew. Today it is the oldest Jewish bakery in Kolkata renowned for their Yuletide treats of fruit cake and plum cake. Other favourite patisserie items include a mix of sweet and savoury delicacies such as lemon tarts, rum balls, chicken puffs, and mutton samosas are their bestsellers. And if you make it here during a Jewish holiday, you will be also be treated to baklava, date sticks and cashew nut rings. Despite the number of modern pastry and cake shops that have sprouted up across Kolkata, Nahoum’s to reieve patronage from a loyal set of clientele as well as curious tourists.
Foodie note: A family-owned business, the recipes have not been altered since inception. Neither has the interiors changed. Stepping into Nahoum’s is stepping back to 1902!
Location: F20, Bertram St, New Market Area, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata — 700087
Ledikeni at Bhim Chandra Nag
‘Ledikeni’ was born here and the rest, as they say, is history. Legend has it that a local sweet maker named Bhim Chandra Nag created the mishti in honour of Lady Charlotte Canning, wife of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Charles John Canning. And, thus, was born the chenna-based dessert, Lady Canning that eventually became the corrupted and immensely popular ledikeni. The dessert is popular across West Bengal, but it is Nag’s sweet shop that has the cult status. The eponymous shop is still managed by descendants of ledikeni’s creator and the original recipe remain a closely guarded secret.
Foodie note: While you wait for your sweets, marvel at the 162-year-old Cook and Kelvey clock in the storefront of Bhim Chandra Nag with Bengali numerals that was custom-made for and gifted to Bhim Chandra Nag by Thomas Cooke, one of the two founders. It still works perfectly.
Location: 5, Nirmal Chandra Street, near Bowbazar Market, Bowbazar, Kolkata — 700012
Doodh Cola at Balwant Singh’s Eating House
Hit by late night hunger pangs? Head to Balwant Singh’s Eating House. A genuine hole-in-the-wall with an exemplary client list, it is the only place in the city where you can enjoy authentic Punjabi khana shana. Their paratha is served with a generous dollop of butter and you’ll find a samosa instead of the ubiquitous Bengali singara. Open 24 hours, it is not unlikely to see cars waiting outside for their turn. Do not miss their signature drink-doodh cola, a curious combination of equal parts of milk and cola blitzed together with a dash of sugar and served in earthen kulhad.
Foodie note: This is a pure vegetarian place. Do not head here in hopes of finding chicken tikka and seekh kebabs.
Location: 10/B, Harish Mukherjee Rd, Bhawanipore, Kolkata — 700025
Full English Breakfast at Flurys
You cannot leave Kolkata without trying the English High Tea service at Flurys on Park Street. We’ll forgive you if you’re partial to the full English breakfast here. A Swiss couple Mr. & Mrs. J Flurys started the establishment in 1927, as a tearoom. Apart from the perfectly brewed Darjeeling, they also offered exquisite cakes and pastries. More outlets have opened across the city, but nothing matches the experience of visiting the original in Park Street that maintains the 30s décor. Get yourself a seat by the large window on a warm winter morning and be transported back to and era bygone.
Foodie note: Their chocolates and cookies are to die for. Don’t forget to pack some for friends back home. The rum ball is an absolute must.
Location: 18A, Park Street, Kolkata — 700071
Rosogolla at Nobin Chandra Das
The rosogolla single-handedly made Bengal as the purveyors of the finest confections and desserts. Created in 1868 by Nobin Chandra Das, owner of a small sweet shop, rossogolla became his signature dish. But it was only in 1930 that Das’s sons, Krishna Chandra Das, and Sarada Charan Das invented the rossomalai ( rasmalai), started the first shop in Jorasanko, and hit on the ingenious idea of selling canned rasgullas. With shops around the city, it is not difficult to find a KC Das in your neighbourhood. But if you want to taste the real magic, take some time to visit the original store named after the original inventor.
Foodie note: To know more about the life and times of Nobin Chandra Das, checkout the Bengali biopic, Rosogolla (2018). Subtitles are recommended.
Location: 77, Jatindra Mohan Avenue, Shobhabazar, Kolkata — 700005
Daab Sherbet at Paramount Sherbets & Syrups
Quenching Kolkata’s thirst since 1918. Whether you want a fresh glass of juice (no tetra packs, please) or a tall glass of your favourite seasonal shake, head to Paramount. Declared a heritage building by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, Paramount continues to attract locals and tourists alike. The décor maintains the old-world charm, making it the perfect place for long hours of adda. And for your dose of history, simply look up the walls. Pictures of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Guru Rabindranath Tagore and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy are proof that these walls have witnessed many secret meetings of revolutionaries to oust the British.
Foodie note: You cannot commit the mistake of missing their signature drink, Daab Sherbet (a cool drink made from tender coconut).
Location: 1/1/1D Bankim Chatterjee Street, College Square, Kolkata — 700073
A Wholesome Bengali Meal at Mahal Pice Hotel
Pice hotels are Kolkata’s best kept secret, and Mahal leads the way-this is Bengali cuisine in its most genuine form. Tucked away in a narrow by-lane, standing inside a dilapidated building, Mahal enjoys a loyal clientele. On any given day, you can find office-goers, shoppers, college students, and tourists, all enjoying a zero-frills but soul-satiating fill of finger-licking Bengali food. From the regular serving of rice, dal, variety of vegetable and non-vegetarian preparations to seasonal favourites like kumro phool bhaja (pumpkin flower fritters) and neem begun (fried neem leaves and brinjal), their menu is a gastronome’s delight.
Foodie note: This is where Sarandindu Bandopadhyay lived and wrote the Byomkesh Bakshi stories. It is quite possible, that you may be sitting at the same table where Bandopadhyay may have sat for his meals.
Location: Main entrance — 6/3, Ramanath Majumdar Street, Amherst Street, Kolkata — 700009. The more popular address (back entrance): 66, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kolkata — 700009
Mitra Café/Anadi Cabin/Basanta Cabin
Cabin restaurants are as much a part of Kolkata’s history as are Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. Mitra Café, Anadi Cabin and Basanta Cabin have together ruled the city for over 100 years. Locals have their favourite marked. But if you are visiting for the first time, order Brain Chop at Mitra Café, Moghlai Paratha at Anadi Cabin, and Prawn Papad at Basanta Cabin.
Foodie note: These are the best places for quick getaways along with food that will make you salivate for more.
Mitra Café location: 47, Jatindra Mohan Avenue, Kolkata — 700005
Andadi Cabin location: 9A, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Esplanade, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata — 700013
Basanta Cabin location: 53 College Street, Kolkata — 700073
Kosha Mangsho at Golbari (New Punjabi Hotel)
For a Bengali a sumptuous meal is not complete without kosha mangsho (slow cooked mutton). There is one shop that has made a mark for itself as a cult of Kosha Mangsho in Kolkata — New Punjabi Hotel. Locals call it Golbari ( Gol means round and Bari is a house) because of the semi-circular structure at a street corner. Generations have sworn by their kosha mangsho and paratha. The slow cooked mutton is dark, rich, spicy, and it is delicious! Don’t look for proper seating here, the literal hole-in-the-wall only has sharing tables.
Foodie note: For those with a weak constitution, carry an antacid. If you want a little comfort, you can get your food packed.
Location: Shyambazar 5 point, 211, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road, Fariapukur, Kolkata — 700004
Home-style Bengali Meal Suruchi’s
Food for a cause. Suruchi serves delicious Bengali food cooked by inhabitants of the All Bengal Women’s Union (ABWU). Started in 1932 to provide shelter and support to women who were ostracised by the society, the kitchen became a therapy and a community. In 1952, Suruchi was started to provide home-delivery service. With increasing popularity and demand, Suruchi was turned into a small canteen in 1972. Till date, it witnesses full-house of those who wish to enjoy filling, good food at reasonable prices.
Foodie note: You are bound to find recipes here that will only be found in your grandmother’s kitchen. Reach early as the places closes by 6:00 pm.
Location: 89, Elliot Road, Taltala, Kolkata — 700016
Prawn cutlets at Allen Kitchen
More than 130 years ago, Allen Kitchen started to feed the working class of the British Raj. Standing close to The Writer’s Building, a landmark in the city with a number of government offices, the eatery is known for it light prawn cutlets and fish rolls. Everything is fried in ghee instead of healthy oil. But that has not affected its popularity. On the contrary, the fans have only grown in numbers. It maintains its old décor, and employees have worked here for generations.
Foodie note: With everything fried in ghee, how do they keep their food light and easy to digest? The recipe remains a secret. Asking for it will only result in shop talk.
Location: 40/1, Jatindra Mohan Avenue, Kolkata — 700006
Sandesh at Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy
Started in 1844 by the father-in-law — son-in-law duo of Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy, the shop (named after them) has mastered the art of Sandesh. The shop continues to attract the who’s who of the country with a mind-boggling number of Sandesh-as many as 60 varieties of sandesh are available here. If there is a sandesh flavour that you can imagine, be sure that they are already serving it. They continue to keep their thinking caps on and every Durga Puja there is a new addition to the repertoire.
Foodie note: Chocolate and parijat sandesh are a must-try. You cannot leave without getting some packed for family and friends.
Location: 56, Ramdulal Sarkar Street, Near Bethune College, Hedua, Kolkata — 700006
Kolkata Biryani at Aminia
One of Kolkata’s oldest Mughlai eateries Aminia at New Market area is the place to go for authentic Kolkata biryani. Stories say that young up and coming footballers would head to the restaurant to celebrate their wins. Aminia are also one of the few who started with serving authentic Awadhi biryani. If you want to steer clear of the biryani (why?!), you can try some of their best-sellers-Mutton Pasinda Kebab, Chicken Chaap, Butter Pudding and Firni.
Foodie Fact: If you take your biryani without potato or boiled egg, you may as well not have biryani at all.
Location: 6A, SN Banerjee Road, New Market Area, Taltala, Kolkata — 700087
Originally published at https://livingfoodz.com.