“First we eat, then we do something else”
Food is the way to a man’s heart is what people all over the world say. Growing up in an Indian household, the concept of dieting was never an option. Mothers or grandmothers would sympathetically say “How have you become so thin?”, no matter how much you ate.
The curiosity to taste different kinds of food comes naturally to most people. Eating one particular food every day is not possible especially when you have the means to explore. Noodles, pizzas, burgers, fries, soup, pasta, croissants, cakes, pastries, doughnuts, waffles, churros, ice creams and so so much more. Each city in the world boasts of something different. No matter how much you explore the food around the world, it just doesn’t seem enough. Does it?
The Beauty of Food
When you travel, food is a part of the culture, the norms and a way of life for a particular city or a country. And in a country like India, the food differs greatly from one state to another. The contrast of colours, tastes, spices, meats, and vegetables come together and blend into one beautiful dish or dishes.
Such is Bengali cuisine.
A culture going back centuries, Bengal as it was known before the partition of India, was a pinnacle of culture, food; a juxtaposition of Hindu, Muslim and Christian cultures due to its varied influences.
If you take a trip to Kolkata, you can see the city transform as you travel. From the skyscrapers, it comes down to age-old buildings standing strong since the time of British rule.
Places to eat in Kolkata: The What and Where
It’s very simple when you are in the land of Bengalis: there is food available at any time of the day; it is not like a continental breakfast where you only get it during a certain interval of 8 in the morning to 12. As they had once said for the Romans – in Bengal, do as the Bengalis do. Indulge in pure Bengali cuisine.
Let’s start with breakfast
You must start off with a good breakfast (which in different places in Kolkata is available even in the evenings). One of the favourite breakfasts in Kolkata is kachori with a preparation of a spicy curry made with potatoes (Kochuri Aloor Torkari) which is best made at Sri Hari Mistanna Bhandar. A shop more than a century old, it has been selling this dish since without a single tinge of change. It is located in Bhowanipore. It goes beautifully with a plate of Jalebis or a plate of Roshogollas. It is without a doubt one of the best places to have a good meal in Kolkata.
When in search of food in Kolkata
When you have good food and more importantly food which fills your stomach, it gets difficult to travel. But here, you don’t really have to walk. Take a cycle rickshaw and take in the sights of the city, or take the tram. Unfortunately, the accessibility of the tram has become limited nowadays but you can still roam on it to explore all the food places in Kolkata.
Let’s talk lunch
For lunch, it totally depends on your taste in food. It doesn’t matter if you are in the mood for Italian, Continental, Bengali or even Chinese, Park Street is the place to be. Park Street is a street which on either side is lined with restaurants. Walking around the area would mean walking amidst an ocean of lip-smacking food. You can drop by Peter Cat for some yummy kebabs, Mogambo, for some Chinese or drown in some beautiful signature Bengali dishes at Koshe Kosha where the mutton curry is to die for.
Do not forget that Park Street is also filled with street vendors who sell books, posters and everything else you can think of.
A cuppa in the evening
In the evening, while travelling along the streets of Kolkata, cha is a religious tradition. By cha, I mean tea (or chai, as it is commonly known across much of India). A biscuit along with it doesn’t hurt, but that is your call. Any small shop will give you good tea, no matter what time of the day it is.
Travelling through the city, the lack of lustre in old Calcutta brings out the rustic beauty of it. Especially in North Kolkata. Do not forget to see the Victoria Memorial in the evening.
Time for dinner
The nights in Kolkata are exceptionally bright. For dinner, explore the streets, as in this city you can find almost anything to eat. Choose from some authentic Chinese from Chinatown, or some amazing preparations of fish at Bhojohori Manna.
Whatever you eat for dinner, head to Bhowanipore afterwards, and visit Radharaman and Balaram Mallik’s sweet shop for the best mishti doi in the city. I challenge you to stop at one serving.
With travel, food is a friendly companion and no matter which city or country you visit, try to always do justice to the local cuisine because that is something you will not get everywhere. Travelling and food will always go hand in hand, no matter which corner you are, which colour, caste or creed you belong to. It is how it’s meant to be.