Kolkata is not just the cultural capital of India but also its mecca of street food. Every corner of this bustling city has a famous street food vendor that the people of Kolkata swear by! The street food scene in Kolkata scores on the count of not only mind-blowing taste but also its diversity. Kolkata street foods include a myriad of cuisines, and the flavors are simply never-ending. There is something to satisfy the taste buds of everyone, be it one of the city’s guests or a native such as me. And it doesn’t fail to impress on the budget front as well. Here is a list of five of my favorite street foods that you must savor on your trip to Kolkata.
If you ask me, the piquant phuchka single-handedly adds the joy to the City of Joy that Kolkata is! Phuchkas are deep-fried semolina balls filled with an irresistible mix of boiled potatoes mashed with various spices, chopped green chili, pickled water, tamarind pulp, lime, mint, and chickpeas. The stuffed puffballs are dunked into zesty tamarind water before they are served, and they are meant to be eaten in one single bite resulting in a crackling party of flavors inside the mouth. While there are innumerable phuchka vendors in the city, my favorite ones are the Krishna Kant Sharma stall outside Vardaan Market on Camac Street and the Maharaja Chaat Centre on Southern Avenue. Your trip to Kolkata won’t be complete without treating yourself to these tangy nibbles.
Whenever you are in Kolkata, look around yourself, and you will find at least one person munching on a roll while going about his way. The kathi roll is Kolkata’s contribution to the world of street food. It was Nizam’s Restaurant in the New Market area that came up with the idea of wrapping the greasy, succulent, flavorful kebabs in flaky flatbreads called parathas and calling them kathi rolls. People have been guzzling the scrumptious rolls with the same zest ever since! Today, there are scores of shops carrying forward the legacy of Nizam’s Restaurant, with slight tweaks in the recipe. My favorite one out of these shops is Kusum Roll's on Park Street. With more than 25 kinds of rolls, Kusum Roll's has something in store for everyone.
Fish has long ceased to be yet another culinary item for Bengalis and has cemented its position as a cultural emblem. We, Bengalis, can’t do without fish, and so, it’s only natural that one of the most famous street foods in Kolkata is the fish kabiraji. It is made by wrapping a fish fillet in an egg net and then deep-frying it. It’s no exaggeration at all when I tell you that the fish kabiraji is to die for! Try it at the iconic Mitra Cafe at Shobhabazar, and while you are there, why not devour some of their delightful fish fingers and fish chops as well!
If there’s one Kolkata street food that can replace a full meal in how filling it is, it is definitely the legendary mughlai paratha. A mughlai paratha is made by stuffing an egg roti (an Indian flatbread) with generous quantities of minced meat, cutlet chunks, onions, a whole lot of spices, and then deep-frying the stuffed roti until golden brown. This delectable Kolkata street food originated in the Mughal kitchens at the hands of Adil Hafiz Usman, a cook from the Bardhaman district of West Bengal, and hence the name. I suggest you try the mughlai paratha at Anadi Cabin, which is one of the city’s oldest food joints at 101 years!
How do you like your eggs? Scrambled, soft-boiled, with the sunny side up, Benedict? Once you have the quintessential Bengali dimer (dim- egg) devil in Kolkata, I am sure you’ll forget all of the above! This palatable Kolkata street food is made by wrapping an egg in spiced minced mutton or mashed potatoes, coating it in flour, giving it an egg wash, covering it with breadcrumbs, and then deep-frying it. The dimer devil is served with onions and kasundi, the tangy and fiery Bengali mustard sauce. When in Kolkata, try the dimer devil at Kalika, the legendary street food joint on College Street.
Now you know why Kolkata is hailed as the street food capital of India! Every nook and cranny of the city has a vendor creating culinary magic that you must not miss out on. No place in the world can replicate the flavours of Kolkata. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head towards my city to devour some of the best street foods ever!
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