My city, kolkata looks like a fantasy town that came to life straight out of a brilliant novel. The old-colonial era buildings in the former British capital add a certain charm to the city that makes it a treat to a beholder's eyes. Along with its rich cultural heritage, Kolkata happens to be one of the country's friendliest cities for street food lovers.
The city's authentic Bengali cuisine accompanying fine-drawn variations from Mughals, Parsis, the British, and Armenians shows the city's diverse history. west bengal has successfully registered itself as one of the best food destinations in India. It is not just the sweet treats, but also a variety of indulgent street foods that make it popular. Be it the meaty Kathi rolls, the mouth-watering chops, their crispy Telebhajas, or the addictive juicy Phuchkas, one can never go hungry in this state. The entire city is filled with various kinds of gastronomic wonders that will tantalize one's taste buds.
Being a native of the city myself, I have the advantage to relish the sumptuous street food delights whenever I want. So, among the amazing street foods in Kolkata, here are a few of my favorites which one must definitely try whenever they come to visit the “City of Joy”.
So here are some of the best street foods in Kolkata.
Very similar to Chaats served in various parts of the country, Ghugni finds its place specifically in Bengal. It is made of flavored and boiled chickpeas and white peas with a garnish of onion, coriander, chilies, and tamarind juice. The dish is best relished with the Bengali Luchi (deep-fried flatbread) or on its own too. Sometimes pieces of meat are also added to the dish for flavoring. The meat keema Ghugni or rather Mangsher Ghugni as we call it is Kolkata's trademark.
- Best places: Chitto Da's shop at Dacres Lane, Gariahat, Esplanade Newmarket area.
- Price: INR 10-20 for a plate.
The legend of Phuchka is quite interesting. The lore is associated with the epic Mahabharata, when Kunti asked Draupadi to prepare something out of some leftover vegetables and some wheat flour, that could satisfy the hunger of her sons. It is then that Draupadi made an early rendition of the dish. A Bengali variant of the famous panipuri, known by several names like Golgappa and Pani-bataasha in other states, Phuchka is made up of light and hollow semolina balls served with spicy mashed potato and tamarind water with different flavors. What gives the Phuchka its distinct flavor is the spicing of the water. Phuchkas sellers usually sell the snack in Thelas (push-cars). One can even ask Thela-wala to adjust the spice level according to one's taste. The absolutely divine taste makes the succulent snack the queen of all street foods in Kolkata.
- Best places: Dilip Da's phuchkas at Vivekananda Park, Vardaan Market, Nankuram Gupta's stall at Russell Street
- Price: INR 20-30 for a plate (six phuchkas)
A flaky flour paratha is rolled up with your chosen stuffing laced with irresistible sauces, spices, and veggies and seasoned with lime juice on top Kolkata's Kathi rolls are now popular all over the globe. It is believed that the delicious Kathi rolls were first founded at Kolkata's historic Nizam restaurant, the roll in its original form included kebab meat stuffed inside a rolled paratha for convenience. One of the typical street foods in Kolkata and one of my personal favorites too. A Kathi roll is always the best option for fulfilling an evening snack at a reasonable price.
- Best places: Hot Kathi Roll and Kusum's at Park Street, Nizam's in New Market
- Price: INR 50-120 (depending on the type of roll)
An appetizing street snack that can be found in every nook and corner of the city, Jhalmuri is an easy and quick munchie, prepared by tossing muri (puffed rice) mixed with mustard oil along with peanuts, chopped onions, chilies, tomatoes, nuts, and chanachur. The Jhalmuri is usually served in a thonga (paper cone). The jhalmuri is similar to the bhelpuri found in Mumbai but drier and crispier. Jhalmuri sellers set up their shops outside schools, colleges, railway stations, and parks—anywhere where people need a light, affordable evening snack. The jhalmuri served in long train journeys by traveling vendors are delectable and a must try and the experience is unequaled.
- Best places: Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Triangular Park, New Market
- Price: INR 10-20 (depending on size)
Momos served with a piping hot soup and the perfect sauce for accompaniments is the very definition of comfort food. The delicious local momos are made with stuffings of vegetables, chicken, pork, and fish that can be had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as just a snack. Recently gondhoraj momos made with one of Bengal's favorite ingredients gondhoraj lemon have become quite popular in the city. A plate of these pop-colored viridescent Tibetan classics will leave one absolutely amazing craving for more.
- Best places: Tirreti Bazaar, Rabindra Sadan Metro Exit, Leon's.
- Price: INR 40-50 for a plate (six momos).
Another one of my personal favorites, Kachori Aloordum is a made-in-heaven combination. It is found in every nook of the city. Kolkata is perhaps the only city where aloordum is street food in its own merit. It serves as a breakfast for hundreds of office-goers in the city. Kachori is, basically fried Indian bread that is stuffed with the filling of peas and the aloordum is made of baby potatoes cooked in a spicy and tangy sauce. The quintessential Bengali street food is best made in winter when fresh sweet peas and baby potatoes are in season. A plate of Kachori Aloordum with Kolkata's most famous “Gorom Rosogolla” is surely going to make one's day.
- Best places: Fairlie Place, Central Business District
- Price: INR 20-40
Another very popular street food in Kolkata is the Mughlai paratha. The Mughlai paratha is a rectangular paratha made with white flour which is folded like an envelope. The thin layered, deep-fried paratha consists of a rich filling of eggs, keema (minced meat), and lots of spices. The birth of these sumptuous snacks is quite interesting. It is said to have originated during the Mughal emperor Jahangir's reign. The ruler was looking for something new to eat and that is when his head chef Usman, who was from Bengal came up with the idea of an egg-based paratha which was served with keema and this is probably how the Mughlai paratha was invented. The recipe spread all across Bengal when the descendants of the Mughal dynasty started selling these delicacies during the British raj. These parathas add a totally different flavor to the Kolkata street food cuisine.
- Best place: Anandi Cabin, The Royal Bengal Tiger Café, Samrat Snacks on Prince Anwar Shah road
- Price: INR 90-150
The Bengali word telebhaja literally translates to “fried in oil”. Telebhaja is a teatime snack that is made from brinjal slices that are dipped in a batter of gram flour and deep fried. These deep-fried snacks are similar to the pakoras found in all parts of the subcontinent. These crunchy, fluffy light delights are an ideal companion to evening tea. Hot telebhajas with muri (puffed rice) and gorom cha (hot tea) is a sinful combination for a rainy evening. This snack is typically eaten during adda sessions, a habit that is still very integral in North Kolkata. In many of the telebhaja shops, several unique fried fritters are also sold like aamer chop (made up of raw mango), Kashmiri chop, and soybean cutlets which are loved by so many of the city's dwellers.
- Best places: Kalika Mukhorochak at College Street, Muchorochak Snacks near Baranagar market
- Price: INR 5-10
The Guardian has declared Kolkata's tea as the best street tea in India. Every tea lover in the city shares the unparalleled satisfaction of sipping on a cup of piping milk tea. Kolkata takes its tea very seriously. The tea is generally served in matir bhaar or earthen pot sold in thelas all across the city. Aromatic hot tea is usually accompanied by Kolkata's authentic singaras (samosa) making it a delightful experience. An evening adda is incomplete without these two. Kesar tea found in some of the tea shops is absolutely flavorsome and leaves a lasting impression on your mind. For an ardent tea lover like me, one cup of gorom cha on my way to college every morning is a must.
- Best places: Arun tea stall in Shakespeare Sarani Road, Sharma Tea Stall, Jadavpur University Canteen
- Price: INR 20-30
The awesome union of chanachur, lemon juice, and onion with a little bit of amra (hogplum) which gives it a tangy and sour flavor served in a tiny thonga, ghoti gorom is one of the most popular native street foods of Kolkata. The amra is sometimes replaced with raw mangoes. Having this perfect little tok-jhal-mishti (tangy-spicy-sweet) snack while strolling across the streets of Kolkata is mandatory. This has been part of a daily ritual in the city and even in the villages of Bengal for generations. So many of our traditional rituals and foods have fallen prey to modernization but fortunately for us, Ghoti gorom has been able to hold on.
- Best places: Princep Ghat
- Price: INR 10-20
These are a few of the street foods of Kolkata that one should definitely try when in the city.
A First-year college student who loves History and enjoys her own company. She loves to read books and has a special fascination for paintings, doodling, and dancing.