WORDS: AISHWARYA MENON
PHOTOGRAPHS: VINOBHA NATHAN
GREAT FROM: New Delhi, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar
GREAT FOR: Comfort food in the monsoons
You think you have your holiday sorted: you’ll visit Kolkata’s most iconic buildings, marvel at the grand old architecture, stop by the Howrah Bridge, the Science Park and get back home… So, here’s the warning: when you set foot in Kolkata, keep in mind that you’re entering a dangerous city, one that’s full of temptations that will leave you wanting more of its sinfully good culinary delicacies. So, leave your willpower and diet behind and pack an extra-large pairof pants and a big, wholesome appetite to take on all the food that comes your way.
While Kolkata has its fair share of restaurants and cafes that are popular with both locals and visitors, there are a few lesser-known eating havens like Dacres Lane that deserve a bigger place on the city’s culinary map (see Where to Eat for details of all eateries). If you’re looking for a memorable lunch, this street, also called Decker’s Lane, offers such a wide array of choices, you’ll find yourself spending more time choosing what you want to eat than actually eating. From piping-hot tea and toast at Chitto Babur Dokan, South Indian specials like rava dosa and uttapams and a cute food truck called The Express Begins tucked away in a corner, to an almost rundown stall that goes by the name Classic Fast Food Lane serving Indian-style chowmein, you have it all. Here, you’ll also find local favourites such as rich, delicious mughlai paratha and egg rolls made with love and calories.
All that greasy goodness is best washed down with a glass or two of cool lassi. Head, then, to the famous Esplanade Lane nearby. Standing proud at the same spot for the past 40 years, the fresh fruit juice and lassi stall here offers the perfect fix for the tired, the thirsty and those seeking all things decadent. If you find yourself here during mango season, don’t miss out on the rich, heavy goodness of the mango lassi that’s served with chunks of peda, dry fruits and fresh mango pieces
An even easier-on-the-pocket option that will leave you full without making a dent in your wallet is the popular New Mission Dhaba on Camac Street. Bustling with office-goers during the lunch hour, the delicious aroma of all that awaits you will reach you before you even enter the lane. Ask for a plate of lachha paratha, mixed-vegetable sabzi, raita and vegetable pulao, and take your time as you relish the simple, wholesome flavours. A Kolkata street food experience is almost incomplete without feasting on the local favourite: puchka and jhal muri. Head to the lesser-known Russel Street, just off Vardhan Market, and treat yourself to generous servings of delicious puchkas, khatta meetha chaat, paapdi chaat, moong dal chila, and a lot more.
And, while you’re sampling the best of the city’s street-food offerings make sure you try the kesar tea served in tiny terracotta cups at Sharma Tea House, which will transport you to a different kind of paradise as soon as you take your first sip. We bet you won’t be able to stop at just one cup…
You tend to hate things that make you lose control. Why should a city be an exception? Simply put: you can’t help but hate Kolkata a little bit; the city, with its delectable culinary treats, can make you really gluttonous but, keep in mind, you deserve this.