They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and Kolkata has practiced and celebrated this maxim in ‘platter and spirit’! The raison d’etre of Kolkata’s denizens are football, adda and of course, food. For years, this city has been a gourmet’s delight for its lip-smacking dishes ranging from the street side rolls and fries to haute cuisine, particularly Chinese and continental.
Kolkata’s culinary history has undergone numerous subtle transitions as has happened in her culture, and cityscape. Yet in this transition, the city’s quintessential fusion and pluralism have retained their ethnic character. The good old phuchka, jhaal muri and gorom shingara (hot samosas), unassumingly share space and palates with hakka noodles, biryani and dosas.
Street food and more
Although numerous five star hotels have sprung up, all of who serve an amazing multi cuisine spread, when one talks about food in Kolkata, it is about that which is served in smaller food joints. Roadside food stalls, dhabas, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bakeries and pubs, every nook and corner of Kolkata has a number of them lined up to titillate your palate.
The beauty of Kolkata’s cuisines is that it satisfies the diverse taste buds of her die-hard foodies’ sans burning a hole in the pocket. One can go for the ubiquitous combo of maach and bhaat (fish and rice) or the elite’s delight of bhetki paturi (sea bass cooked in mustard and coconut) or even a daab chingri (tiger prawns cooked in coconut).
The food story of this city is no less exciting than Homer’s Odyssey and no less vast than Vyas’s Mahabharata. Ethnic Kashmiri alu dum, dal bukhara, Hyderabadi haleem, Lucknowi galawti kebabs, pork burgers, thin crust oven pizzas or even chicken Taipei – this city can satiate all hunger lusts.
Legendary eateries of Kolkata
Kolkata is home to some of the most famous eateries of India. While Oudh 1590, Royal Indian Hotel, Aminia, Arsalan, Peshawari can dole out some of the best Mughlai cuisines and biryani, Beijing, Kim Ling, Flavors of China, Tung Fong, Vintage Asia and Barbeque can send your taste buds into a frenzy with their Chinese delicacies.
Meanwhile, Nizam’s, Kusum Rolls, Samrat, Mitra Café, Anadi Kitchen, Chitto Babu’r Dokan, Aponjon are legendary road side eateries. Restaurants such as Saptapadi, Bhojohori Manna, 6 Ballygunge Place, Suruchi are treasure troves of Bengali cuisine. Vegetarians need not worry; there are famous restaurants like Teej, Rajdhani, Bombay Shivsagar, Riyasat, Anand and SpiceKlub that never fail to impress with their fare. And of course, there are Kolkata’s well-known bakeries such as Nahoum, Mrs Magpie, The Bakery and Flurys to name a few. These will always bring you back craving for more.
There’s something for everyone
For the younger lot who are yearning a novel experience of fusion food, innovative cocktails and music, the plethora of pubs in the city will keep you in the groove. To check out the night life in Kolkata, head out to 10 Downing Street, The Grid, Carpe Diem, Monkey Bar, Aqua, Traffic Gastropub and Nocturne to name a few. Once you have shed your inhibitions, see for yourself how Kolkata parties.
A word of caution though: I have scratched just the tip of the ice berg by naming these restaurants, eateries and pubs. There are a multitude of fine places that will charm you with the magic of their spectacular food and service.
Food for Kolkata denizens is much more than satisfaction of hunger; it is Kolkata’s religion and cultural identity. Be it winning a football match, or buying a house, or the quintessential Bengali adda, food is the focal point of all occasions as well as conversations! Around the year and particularly during religious festivals, Kolkata becomes a jamboree for food freaks. Health concerns take a back seat during such joyous occasions, and a toast is raised to the vivacity and festive spirit of the City of Joy.
If for you, food is the Dolce Vita, then Kolkata is the place to be!