As soon as upon a time, a younger man got here to Kolkata for a certification examination. He shared a flat with 4 different individuals in Behala, went for his courses, got here again, and rest meant Tantra or South Metropolis Mall. That is how he handed about six months of his life, after which he met me. Christmas week was arising, and a good friend of his gave him my quantity so he might ask me the place 5 males might go to have fun Christmas or New Yr.
I often am very brisk on the telephone. My aspect of the dialog went like this, “How lengthy have you ever been right here once more? And you have not had phuchka? What about Momos? No? Have you ever been to Arsalan? Have you ever been ANYWHERE on Park Road? Tantra? No, I meant meals! Oh come on, you are losing your time right here. Meet me at Discussion board on Saturday.” To provide him due credit score, he simply turned up with out additional questions.
We took a take a look at one another. He seemed good sufficient to take round, so I provided him a Gourmet Tour of Kolkata over the subsequent few days. We sat throughout one another consuming Espresso on the Discussion board Meals Courtroom, whereas I type of rattled off the tales of should go to locations, acquired impatient with all of it, and stated, “Rise up, let’s begin now.”
First cease, AC Market. We crossed the street, and savoured what, to me, is Kolkata’s greatest Phuchka. There are two the reason why Chhotu was at my wedding ceremony. One his phuchka high quality, and two, that was the primary “meal” we shared collectively. It is also humorous that on our wedding ceremony day, after we received married, we broke our quick together with his phuchka too!
Subsequent cease, Orchid, beside Momo Plaza, on Harish Mukherjee Street. Once we have been in school, we might come after a recreation of badminton, our group of 7, and eat, principally at Humro Momo, however Orchid had the pan fried momos, spicier than the remaining, and I assumed a Kerala palate may have that! He settled for the “regular” ones, however Orchid one way or the other is best now than the remaining.
A steaming bowl of thukpa and a plate of momos later, (together with a quick lecture on why Tangra is the subsequent step to Nirvana) we have been on our method to South Metropolis Mall for a film. After the film, we went to Zara, one other of our favorite locations, particularly for the Women’ Nights that they host. Additionally Chef Amit does ANY improvisation you want, he is from IHM Kolkata in any case. And the service, is impeccable. My grandmother’s favorite dish there was the Prawns in Aioli.. I adore it too!
So we might met for espresso within the morning, and it was already time to go house. I had one week earlier than I began work, so we needed to “see” as a lot as potential in that point.
I assumed we might had sufficient of slumming it, so the subsequent dinner was at Oberoi Grand. Once we have been working on the Taj, Pink Elephant was the one discotek on the town. We might go dancing, then cease for a espresso and a sandwich at The Brasserie (now it is La Terrasse). The meals was to die for. It nonetheless is. Additionally as a result of there is not a joint within the Oberoi’s anymore, the restaurant is quieter and fewer noisy than in different lodges, you possibly can truly take a stroll within the poolside after ordering your meals if that is what you need to do. It is good for couples, and excellent for a big household who need to snort and speak loudly. Our Christmas lunches are all the time there, my Grandmom would not dream of Christmas with out turkey. I advised him tales of how Raibahadur Mohan Singh Oberoi had lived in a single on the rooms, this was his favorite property. It was additionally the primary Oberoi lodge, the one purpose it has not been transformed to a Trident but.
Douglas and Steven have been, as soon as upon a time, the DJs of the Pink Elephant, and the second I entered, they’d play Attractive Eyes by Whigfield. At the moment, it was my favorite music. Doug moved to the Massive Ben when Pink shut store, so did we. Irfan from Taj was on the bar, he was in Junction (Bar) once I was on the Esplanade (Espresso Store), so Massive Ben was a very simply OK place to hang around. On the similar time, Tantra and Someplace Else additionally got here up. Whereas Someplace Else was superior for beer and reside music, we merely swooned over DJ Austin’s combine of Night time Practice, Barsaat, and 9 pm. Tantra, nevertheless, was full of kissing teenagers in all places, so we most popular the “classier” Huge Ben. Now there are such a lot of locations to go boogie in Kolkata, I’ve no clue the place to go in any respect. Perhaps I want a refresher course from a Kolkatan!
Lunch at Kafulok in Tangra was one other “heritage” cease. Tangra was a tannery, with three or 4 homes serving meals. Blue Diamond and Kim Ling have been the primary “eating places” there, Kafulok was extra the Wang household serving you. The meals was pretty, you had to purchase drinks by the bottle, and the whole lot was dust low cost! There was a common stink of rotting leather-based the second you entered Tangra, however we accepted it as half of the “atmosphere”. The Wang sisters have all settled elsewhere now, and for a quick whereas, Kafulok was closed. It is then once we found the thrill of China Haus, the Schezwan Fried Crab particularly. Now individuals inform me there is a new superior one referred to as Golden Pleasure, Beijing is simply OK too, nevertheless, Kafulok is open once more, and I, like a robotic, go straight there, and order a Thai Soup, a Chilli Fish, and a Chilli Garlic Prawn. I see the expression on his face.. and I feel, sure, you are getting it! He does not usually eat prawns, he finds them plasticky.. however the prawns within the Thai Soup, he savoured.
The opposite Chinese language he needed to attempt was at Bar-B-Q. Essential, that, to differentiate how very simply OK Chinese language differed from very simply OK genuine Chinese language. He impressed me together with his views on the variations, despite the fact that we favored each, and I knew this was a foodie, so hanging out collectively would not be troublesome in any respect…
Can any heritage tour of Kolkata meals be full with out Peter Cat? Once we went in for dinner at some point, I advised him that he needed to order the Chelo Kebab. Each Calcuttan has had it, a while in his or her life, it isn’t a dish, it is an establishment. The buttered rice with the fried egg on prime, the 2 sticks of kebab on both aspect, it’s one of these comforting issues in life that by no means change. The grilled Hen Sizzler was one other favorite once we have been youthful, so he tried that, too! He was all the time (and nonetheless is) amazed by the quantity we pay for simply OK meals in Kolkata, in comparison with different cities, it is pittance!
He advised me upfront that he can’t deal with fish bones, so how would I introduce him to Hilsa? 6 Ballygunge Place for lunch solved that drawback, their boneless bhapa ilish made him a agency fan of Bengal’s obsession. I advised him that Bengali meals in eating places was a comparatively new factor, despite the fact that Siliguri had the Kolpotorus and the Kalpanas, the “Classical Bengali Meals” factor began, outdoors the 5 Stars, with Kewpie’s Kitchen. Then got here Bhojohori Manna, then so many extra. Our favourites are 6 Ballygunge Place and 16 Ana Bangali. 13 Parbon is simply OK too. Keep away from Bhojohori Manna if chipped plates and dangerous service flip you off. Keep away from Aaheli on the Peerless Inn in any respect prices. If you wish to attempt “fusion” Bengali meals, attempt Pleasure’s restaurant Bohemian in Ballygunge Place. He is simply OK, however READ the menu earlier than ordering, it’ll style like what’s in it. DON’T anticipate your mom’s cooking, this can be a artistic chef’s interpretation, NOT conventional recipes. The panchphoron flavoured hen escalopes are actually simply OK, my buddies inform me. He additionally took care of all of the meals at our wedding ceremony, and his Bengali meals reworked for the Malayali palate was a HUGE hit.
I might solely inform him tales of Sky Room and Blue Fox. The grilled sausages with mashed potato border, the plentiful Combined Grill. The salted pistachios positioned on the desk for snacks. The Baked Alaska, icecream inside a flaming meringue. Blue Fox’s steaks have been the perfect on the town, no less than for us women, who’d by no means been to Olypub! Then the change of chef at Blue Fox, UC coming in from Taj, and making a tasty Shorshey Maachh. A dry kebab. I had advised him so many tales about UC’s kebabs, that in the future, sitting in namma Chennai at Sigree, I instantly went dreamy eyed a few kakori kebab. I stated that is EXACTLY what UC used to make. My husband, who type of takes my style buds very significantly, laughed and requested the waiter, “Is your Chef’s identify Umesh?”, and the waiter referred to as the Chef, and UC and I had a really pleased reunion, proper there, proper then! I took him to Mocambo to make up for the shortage of these two, and ordered the Hen Tetrazini, however he might take it or depart it. Lesson, some issues style simply OK ONLY as a result of of the associations we’ve got with them.
Masala Thums Up. The road meals tour began with this at Shibuji’s, at Vardaan Market. I’ve left Kolkata in 2000, and I perhaps come residence every year. The man simply took a take a look at us, and advised his assistant, “Ek Masala Thums Up, masala kam, no ice”, after which requested M, “Aur aap kya lengey?”. The magic of Kolkata, you are by no means gone, you are by no means forgotten. The bhelpuri wala in entrance of Lake Kalibari (probably the most superior of all of them) nonetheless asks me, “Didi, ar serial korben na?” I keep in mind my first “on-screen boyfriend of three days”, Jeetu Madnani, keep in mind how a lot he needed to wrestle to make his presence felt, marvel what he’s doing now, and somebody tells me, he’s now the brand new Bengali celebrity. It feels simply OK. He believed that is what he needed to do, and he made it. In an business that is political and unforgiving. I am ready to satisfy him and say, “Ki re Anil, jaliye dili to!” (Our names in Janani have been Anil and Tina).
Whereas at Vardaan, we pattern the dal pakori, ask them for chilli pakoris for M, have some chana chepti (referred to as chana jor garam outdoors Kolkata), and now have some phuchka. That is adopted by a treatise on totally different sorts of phuchka and water, and he will get to pattern the different sorts over the subsequent few days. “Regular” phuchka from Pandit in Dakshinapan, Bablu in Deshapriya Park, (these two have superb Alu Dums too) the Gariahat man in entrance of the Wine Store, New Empire Firpo’s.. and the “Totally different” phuchka’s from the man in entrance of Treasure Island, Riddhi Siddhi, Chhotu.. the distinction being the addition of pudina, and the supply of kanji vada sort issues within the churmur. Whereas we have been in entrance of Treasure Island, we additionally sampled the Raj Kachori, that too was a childhood factor, purchasing and no time to eat? Cease, eat, go! Swallow it down with a Masala Thums Up or a Soda Shikanji from the large paan store reverse. He too, remembers every of my preferences. He provided me a Lotte Cinnamon Chewing Gum, whereas gently scolding me for visiting after a 4 yr hole, which amused M immensely.
Breakfast at Flury’s was one other tick mark we needed to put. Ticked. It is not that. No matter it was. However it’s a simply OK place to take a seat and speak, and their scorching chocolate continues to be yummy. Be warned although, you will hear dialogues like “Sorry we do not serve espresso at lunchtime” should you enter a bit late. We favor desserts at Mama Mia now, on Ballygunge Round Street. We additionally love their icecream desserts. Cream and Fudge additionally appears very fashionable with it is Chilly Stone icecreams, although for me the Espresso World Filter Espresso on the similar place is a blessing once I’m too sleepy!
Bedouin’s Mutton Roll, Badsha’s Mutton Roll, Kusum’s Mutton Roll, Nizam’s Mutton Roll, Karco’s Mutton Roll.. he thoughtfully declared he’d should attempt all these one other time earlier than declaring a winner, so we left it at that. Aponjon on Sadananda Street gave him his first style of Fish Orly and Kobiraji, and the Butter Fry. Lake Club introduced him Bijoligriller Machher Chop, we ate 18 between the 2 of us, accompanied by tons and much of ice cream soda!
After a while, of course, we have been hungry once more, so my greatest good friend and I needed to go to a Dhaba. A very critical determination to be made, that! The daal was superb in any respect these locations, however Ballygunge Dhaba with it is superb Liver Kasha? Jai Hind Dhaba with it is Butter Hen? Bachchan Dhaba on rashbehari Extra? Azad Hind for Tandoori Hen? Or my private childhood favorite (I lived reverse the Gurdwara, my bed room is now a Frank Ross Pharmacy!), Balwant Singh’s Consuming Home, with its yummy lassi, milk and chai? I made positive he received a style of these locations over the subsequent few months, however Balwant Singh’s Tarka daal was and all the time might be number one to me!
Taj Bengal. My first ever office. The hen patties on the Pastry Store are completely one of the best on the earth. Taj continuously reinvents itself so I’ve no clue what retailers it has now. Should go and see it someday. Subsequent time. Did decide up a couple of hen patties and cheese ones (for me) once I went there for the reunion final yr, individuals inform me they style simply the identical. With Chef Sujon in cost, I am not stunned. He is simply SO a lot of a perfectionist, I am positive all Taj Bengal eating places churn out superb meals now.
The Rajasthani thali at Teej. The Rajdhani thali at Mani Sq. Mall. Kebabs at Zaranj and Amber. The thali at Vandana, within the lane beside Samilton. Dosa at Rana, at Jadavpur P.S. Extra. The cheese dosa at Dakshinapan. Amra ( a inexperienced bitter fruit eaten uncooked with salt) in entrance of Trendy Excessive Faculty. Jhalmuri at Jodhpur Park and Victoria Memorial. Small kul in entrance of any random faculty. By the point I left Kolkata for Chennai, M knew the tales, and will distinguish a Southern Aminia biryani from an Arsalan one simply by smelling it. He additionally knew the elemental variations between Maharanir kochuri, Dakshineshwar kochuri and Kalighat kochuri. He not simply knew all of it, he’d began loving all of it, and would introduce all his pals from out of city to those joys of life that solely an skilled information can take you thru.
As he says, he fell in love with Kolkata. As did his household, who flew down all the best way from Trivandrum for the marriage. They sampled sweets from Okay.C. Das, vs Banchharam vs. Suresh (Dhakuria) vs. Kalpana (Lord’s Extra) vs. Makhanlal and packed some for house. The bhajas, shorshes and postos have been all new flavours, as was the brewed tea. Malayalis make tea with half milk half water, and boil it with tea. It is a very totally different style, and extremely popular in South India.
However that’s one other story. To this story, there WILL be a sequel. Once we come again subsequent yr to expertise a Kolkata pujo, proper from Barisha to Bagbazar.