The city of Kolkata is the gourmet capital of East India. Kolkatans are quite adventurous as far as food is concerned. On an average, a Kolkatan spends a major chunk of his income on quality food. It is no secret that the love Kolkatans have for the sublime and finer things of life extends to the art of fine dining as well.
In its long and chequered 300 years old history, The City of Joy has evolved as one of India's biggest metropolitan city, throbbing with life and activity. Ever since Kolkata has embraced the 24/7 global culture, this stupendous city has had the opportunity to come into contact with people from all over the world which in turn has resulted in a positive impact on taste, habit and culture. The response of the average Kolkatan towards the international noveau cuisines has been commendable.
The beauty of the Kolkata gourmet scene of today is that, for a 21st century metropolis, the cost of quality food is amazingly cheap. You can relish Chinese noodles, Italian Spaghetti, German Hamburgers, Mexican Chilli con Carne and even a Chateaubriand without having to dig deep into your wallet.
Apart from speciality restaurants of 5 star luxury hotels, you have end numbers of independently run restaurants that provide you with a bewildering array of world cuisines. Signature & Celebrity restaurants like Saurav's-The Food Pavilion, patronized by Indian Cricket icon Saurav Ganguly or for that matter, celebrity chef - Sanjeev Kapoor's Grain of Salt provide a truly international dining experience right here in Kolkata.
Bengalis thrive on fish and you would do well to have a dig at the neighborhood Bengali restaurant. For the quintessential Bengali, no meal is complete without "Machher Jhol" or "Chingri Mallai Curry". The sheer variety of fish based delicatessens that are available like Kalias, Paturis, Tauks 7 Ambals, Murrighontos, Machbhaja, Bhapamach, Chorchoris, Doimach etc. will leave you flabbergasted and spoilt for a choice.
seems all set to capture the imagination of the masses in India. This has got something to do with the growing interest of Indians in everything Bengali. Bollywood bombshells like Bipasha Basu, Rani Mukherjee & Co. and blockbusters with Bengali themes like Devdas and Parineta have indeed triggered off a "Bengali Renaissance" of sorts.
What truly distinguishes Bengali cuisines from any other Indian cuisine is that the Bengali cuisine is more evolved and scientific. It also has a touch of sophistication viz-a-viz the course on offer.
True to its cosmopolitan character, just like you have a Chinatown in downtown Manhattan or a Chinatown in Singapore, Kolkata too has an exclusive Chinese bastion - "Tangra". A walk through Tangra's narrow alleyways is like stepping into a fascinating Chinese country. Here the natives are original Chinese. They speak Chinese and of course the food is definitely authentic Chinese. Rows after rows of specialty Chinese restaurants dot the Tangra landscape. And the best part is that the wizened Chinese immigrants manufacture all the raw materials like Chinese sauces and noodles, which are essential ingredients in any Chinese meal in their own backyard. So, every meal you have at Tangra is authentic Chinese stuff.
As far as roadside eating is concerned, Kolkata's streets are way above the rest of India. According to India's most prestigious Food & Wine magazine - "Upper Crust" - "Kolkata's all-under-one-roof municipal markets are among the best and most attractive in the whole of India".
To sample the famed street food of Kolkata, a visit to Dalhousie Square (BBD Bagh) is highly recommended. Try to be there at the Square by lunchtime and you will witness the entire Square turning into a vast outdoor food court. A hearty meal is nothing short of chappatis or rice with Booter Dal(Lentil), fish curry, papads and fresh salads, all for Rs.15 a plate. You won't be disappointed given the quality of the food on offer.
For light snacks, once dusk descends on The City of Joy, the Maidan and New Market area is choc a bloc with Jhall Muri and Puchkawallas. Business is brisk but a note of caution - Puchkas and Jhall Muri are terribly spicy and hygiene is not the uppermost concern here, but, then, sanitized Puchkas have never really tasted as good.
No visit to Kolkata is complete without savoring the mouthwatering Bengali sweetmeats. Be it Rosogollas, the Natun Gurer Sandesh, Payesh or Kheer Puli. When it comes to sweets Kolkata is the place to be in. The popularity of Bengali sweets are legendary. K.C. Das and Jaljog of yesteryears are still here catering to the whims and fancies of the new age tastebuds. If you are a calorie conscious fitness freak, then Bengali sweets come as a breath of fresh air because they are non-oily and use milk as the main ingredient, whereas the counterparts up north and down south use oil while preparing sweets.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/14