Eat Like A Local: The Taste Of Bengal

Eat Like A Local: The Taste Of Bengal
Street food culture in Kolkata, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Savour the best of street food in India’s ‘cultural capital’

Roshni Subramanian
October 23 , 2019
12 Min Read

The street food culture of Kolkata. Words don’t do justice to the glory of it. The land of roshogolla, pontua and the irresistible shondesh, Kolkata shares an extremely intimate relationship with food. What many might not know is that the city has been conferred with the title of India’s street food hub and rightfully so. We have no qualms in calling the city the food capital of the country. Just the sheer diversity of flavours are enough to keep you hooked. 

And yes. We agree.  A typical Bengali fare can only be relished at someone’s home.The authentic home-style flavours and rich and distinct taste will leave you craving for more. But given a chance, do experiment with delectable street food options. 

Since it’s official now that the city of joy has the best street food scene, who are we to argue. For those who’ve grown up in the city, chicken ishtew for breakfast at Chittodar and an evening fix at Kusum’s rolls has become part of their lifestyle. And when it comes to the long standing debate on puchka v/s golgappa v/s pani puri, for Calcuttans there’s only one indisputable  winner. What’s with the puchka obsession you ask? There are more than a hundred reasons why puchka will always be close to a Bengali’s heart. But that’s a discussion for another time. For now, gorge into some delectable street food while exploring the by lanes of Kolkata

Ghugni

 
 
 
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Only Kolkata can manage to turn something as mundane as dried yellow peas into a lip smacking delicacy. A rich and spicy preparation topped with a copious amount of ginger, chillies, tamarind chutney and coriander, one can find multiple ghugni vendors throughout the bustling streets of Kolkata. In a city that has no dearth of instant fixes, ghugni marks its own niche and has a loyal fan base. While the vegetarian variation of the dish is more popular, one can also experiment by adding keema in the mix. 

Puchka

 
 
 
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No. Puchka isn’t the same as pani Puri, golgappa, gupchup or any other god forsaken variations. For a true Bengali, puchka is much more than an evening snack. It’s an experience and a flavourful one at that. The mouthwatering crispy puris with tangy water are known by different names throughout the country, but nothing matches the popularity that this street food enjoys in Kolkata. You might find a puchka vendor at every nook and corner of the city, serving endless queues of hungry city dwellers, but our personal recommendation would be to try out the one in Camac street, Vardhan market. Immersed in spices, it’s a burst of flavours in your mouth.

Churmur

 
 
 
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Churmur is exactly what it sounds like. While we’ve heard some fancy folks call it ‘deconstructed puchka’, we prefer to stick to the more traditional term. This roadside snack is a regular occurence in most adda sessions. A tangy, spicy chaat, it’s mostly served in ‘shalpata’ (a plate made of leaves). An iconic street food, churmur is made of leftover puchka. Just add a dash of yogurt and you’ve got yourself a treat.  

Alu Dum

 
 
 
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Potatoes in every shape, size and form are nothing less than a marvel. And make alu dum out of it and you’ve conquered the world. Well, ask any foodie, they’ll agree with us. A spicy variation of baby potatoes, alu dum is a must have if you’re in Kolkata. Infused with freshly ground spices, and tamarind pulp, the puchkawalas of Kolkata are the go to place for a plate of piping hot Alu Dum, the minute you land in this city.

 Jhalmuri

 
 
 
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As mentioned before, only Kolkata can turn something as simple as puffed rice into a lip smacking delicacy. We wouldn’t be wrong in claiming that it’s Kolkata’s favourite street snack. In fact, it’s a hit at the Oval’s as well. Remember the Englsh jhal muri guy? 

Puffed rice with diced potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, roasted peanuts and bits of coconut and green chillies, jhal muri as said by many is a customised treat for your taste buds.

Rolls

 
 
 
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The legendary kathi rolls of Kolkata are hard to miss. The kathi rolls originated in a place called Nizam’s in New Market. The idea behind the dish was quite simple. The British folks didn’t want to dirty their hands while relishing the kebabs. So they decided to stuff it in a tortilla - like wrap or parantha and add the condiments on top. Just the whole process of making it can be quite fascinating for those with a keen interest in the culinary world. If you’re wondering where to grab one of these, just head to Kusum Rolls, Park Street - one stop shop for all your roll cravings. 

Mughlai Parantha

 
 
 
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As the legend goes, mughlai parantha or as bongs prefer to call it moglai parotha, is believed to have originated during the Mughal era. Today this dish enjoys global recognition and is savoured by hordes of people making it the most indulgent street food. For those oblivious to this fried goodness, it’s a soft bread stuffed with keema, eggs, onion and peppers. Complemented best with spiced potato curry and cucumber slices, this flaky ‘parcel’ is a meat-eater’s delight. 

 

 

 


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