Kolkata is India’s third largest city and the capital of Bengal. Formerly known as Calcutta, the city’s food scene is cosmopolitan and diverse, with its roots placed firmly in traditional Bengali cuisine.
The city is a great place for any food lover who wants to sample authentic flavours. Take a stroll around the city’s streets and you will see a range of restaurants, stalls and dining spots. These range from nostalgic English tea rooms and Jewish bakeries to restaurants serving Mughlai cuisine and street vendors selling tasty snacks and curries. Here’s just some of the street food on offer:
Jhalmuri is probably the ‘go-to snack’ for most of Kolkata’s population. You can’t travel far along any street in Kolkata without coming across a vendor selling this iconic snack. ‘Jhal’ translates to mean spicy and ‘muri’ is puffed rice. The base of the snack is a mix of puffed rice, fried dal,peanuts and other crunchy morsels. The most common additions are chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander, spices and mustard oil. It is usually eaten from a bag made from newspaper.
Panipuri goes by many names (including phuchka) and is loved throughout India. This snack is essentially made by taking an empty puri and filling it with spicy potatoes. It is then fried and dipped into tamarind water before serving. You will generally be served around six panipuri in one portion and they areoften small enough to be eaten in one mouthful.
One dish that will definitely grab your attention on the streets of Kolkata is ghugnichaat. Made from yellow peas, tomatoes, onions, chillies, cumin seeds and other spices, this snack is served piping hot and with a spoonful of spicy green chutney, lime juice, fresh coriander and chopped onions. It is the perfect quick hunger fix.
One of the most well-known of Kolkata’s contributions to India’s street foods is the kati roll. Originally, this snack was a kati kebab within a paratha, but over the years the filling has become more varied, and can include chicken, mutton, egg, potato or vegetables. The filling is wrapped up inside a flaky, egg-coated paratha and served as a roll. It is hearty, filling and easy to eat – the perfect food to eat on the go.
Street food in Kolkata doesn’t stop with snacks. If you are looking for something more filling then you can grab a meal from one of the city’s street vendors too. Lighter meals include a small portion of vegetable curry (such as aloogobi) that is served with chapatis and chutneys. Pay slightly more and you can upgrade to a full mealand get a selection of curriesserved with rice and chutneys.
Luckily, you don’t need to travel to Kolkata to sample the delights of the city’s street food. Many of London’s Indian restaurants have snacks (as well as full meals) on the menu. You can get a real taste of India’s bustling, busy cities but you can take your time eating what you order.