A couple of days ago, a friend of mine who has an otherwise high awareness about things around was surprised when I told him that Calcutta is the best place for street food, actually, any food. It is at that point that I decided that I will write an article on Calcutta, concentrating on the lip smacking street food found in beautiful city, which I can challenge, is better than any other place in the world!
Calcutta is that city where one can have a filling meal for Rs. 10 to Rs. 10,000. My concentration in this article will be on the lower end of the spectrum! However, since I am a vegetarian myself, I will not be able to help much with the non vegetarian options!
No matter what one calls it, ‘Pani Puri, Golgappe, Gup Chup’…it is called ‘Puchka’. Puchkas are small round balls made out of flour or wheat (Acts as variety). They are filled with mashed potato mixed with a range of spices and tamarind water. It is generally very spicy and is found all over the city but if you are looking for the best try this one in Alipur. This hawker stands right opposite State Bank of India in Alipur next to Red Lounge (Get Directions). He keeps variety in terms of various flavors of water/sauce and is extremely tasty and unmatchable. There is another hawker on Russell Street who is very good and is actually the most famous Puchkawala in Calcutta. Look for him Bang opposite Teej, the restaurant, on Russell Street. (Get Directions)
If one is looking for Aloo Chat which is a yet another spicy dish prepared with sliced potato mixed with lots of spices, he should try this hawker on Camac Street outside Vardhan Market. You will find him right in front of the building next to Vardhan Market with his humble setup but trust me that will be the best Chat you will have ever had! (Get Directions)
While you are still at Vardhan Market, why not just take a walk towards the main entrance, cross it and take the first left. Just as you turn, you will see this store called Shibuji on your left. Now here is the thing, Shibuji is a very famous name in Calcutta especially for its various combinations of soft drinks and juices etc. but there are various copies of the original, this one, though, is the original. Try the Masala Thumbs Up there! (Get Directions)
If you are into Momos which is a Tibetan dish then the best by far is this place called ‘Hamro’. Hamro is near Elgin Road crossing. In fact when one is going from Elgin Road towards Exide Crossing, they need to take the first right and about 100 m into the lane, they will see Hamro on their right, it is just after Momo Plaza (Get Directions). This place is divine for someone who likes Momos. They serve Vegetarian, Chicken, Pork, steamed, fried, pan fried. Make sure you taste the ketchup that they serve at Hamro. It is the real reason for its success. They serve other food too but are just too famous for Momos. The restaurant looks kind of unhygienic but hey, who said that best places to eat are hygienic. However, you can drive up your car and get the ordered delivered to your car!
For tea, you will have to go to Tea Junction which are small eateries set up by Ambuja. A few places where you can find them are Park Street (Get Directions), City Centre, Vishvakarma Building, etc…they are all over the city. Also you can try this really small stall on the crossing of Hungerford Street & Shakespeare Sarani called Arun Tea Stall, fondly called ATS by the students of St. Xavier’s College & J D Birla College, the two most common represented institutions at ATS (Get Directions)!
If you are looking for cheap Chinese food then you may want to try Golden Dragon which is in the lane opposite to Music World on Park Street (Get Directions). Has the old Chinese feel to it and the food is awesome!
For Samosas or Singhara one should go to this store called ‘Deshbandhu’ on Bada Bazaar, Raja Katra. They prepare singharas the Bengali way and is just too delicious also try the Sweet Curd, ‘misti dhoi’ there, it is the best meal you’ll have all day (Get Directions).
For the ones who wish to try something outlandish and new, try ‘Doodh Cola’ at ‘Balwant Singh’ in Bhawanipur. It is near the gurudwara in Bhawanipur (Get Directions). It is basically a drink that is made by mixing Milk with Cola (Either Pepsi or Fanta generally). It is heavenly, it sounds like such a weird combination but trust me you don’t want to miss this! It is served in a jug and the vintage ‘Bhaandh’ (Earthen Cups) and one jug is good enough for 4 people.
While you are still at Balwant Singh, just walk across the street and find yourself standing at ‘Sharma Tea’ (Get Directions). This Sharma is the original of the famous ‘Sharma for Kachori Sabzi’. You will see a massive number of cars parked there every morning as people of all ages come to Sharma in the morning to have breakfast. You may also want to try the Lassi there! The Kachori-Sabzi, though, is served all day!
If one is looking for really cheap option for a filling lunch, they should try Kaka Tea on Mangoe Lane near Dalhousie (Get Directions). It is basically an eatery for all the office goers as the area has a high density of offices there. They serve wide variety of cuisines from Punjabi to South Indian to Chinese to snacks. One can have an amazing Punjabi Meal there for less than Rs. 60!!! The place though has no option to sit and one has to stand and eat, also during summers it gets unbearable due to the heat!
For South Indian food, one may try Jyoti Vihar on Ho Chi Minh Sarani (Lane bang opposite Pantaloons on Camac Street) (Get Directions). It is very reasonably priced and is pretty famous for its South Indian Food.
For Pav Bhaji which will make you bite your fingers, try Mayaram’s on Lord Sinha Road (See Directions). It is an extremely popular destination for Pav Bhaji.
Also there is something called ‘Aloo Dum‘ which is India’s answer to ‘Chilly Garlic Potato’. These are more popular in South Calcutta in areas close to Kalighat. One place which is very popular for chat in South Calcutta where you can find excellent Aloo Dum is Lake Kalibadi in Southern Avenue. This is right outside Vivekananda Park in Lake Gardens. (Get Directions).
That is all I can recall as of now, I am sure I am missing out a lot since you can never get enough of Calcutta. I hope I have been able to do some justice to the title!
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