Pice Hotels – Pride of Kolkata in India
Authentic traditional food served in customary cutleries is a culture across kolkata and more specifically Bengalis. For my international readers, Kolkata is the capital city of west bengal; a state located in the eastern part of India. The city is phenomenal and renowned for hosting some of the finest local cuisines, restaurants, and streetside shops. In this article, I would be introducing a 100+ years old chain of hotels, known as Pice Hotels. The unique feature of Pice Hotels is the delectable food available at affordable prices. So forget luxurious restaurants, hop into these and enjoy the local delights of Kolkata. Recently the hotels have earned good recognition in BBC news.
Pice Hotels in Kolkata are located mostly in the narrow lanes of the city and is easy to miss them in your traveling route. But if you walk past them, you will be lured by the aromatic smell of the authentic Bengali dishes especially the fish meals. I am sure you will be easily drawn to investigate what's whiffing inside the lanes. And once you reach the hotels and glance at the menu, you are bound to order a sumptuous meal. But yes, do not expect a grand appearance as the hotels are quite old and the traditional look is preferable by the locals.
The name “Pice” is derived from the word “paisa”. Paisa is a word in the Hindi language (the national language of India), meaning Indian rupee. The reason behind the name is attributed to its customary serving of meals at cheap prices. In the early 1900s, the city was flocked with numerous Pice hotels. The hotels remained crowded with migrant workers for their daily meals. Away from their family and missing the home-cooked meals, the hotels were a boon to them. The hotel owners and staff welcomed them, serving mouth-watering lips-smacking local dishes, all for a decent budget price.
The food at the hotels belongs to Bengali cuisine. Fish specialties like Shorshe Ilish (Hilsa fish cooked in mustard sauce), Chingri Macher Malai curry (prawn cooked in coconut milk), Bhetki Macher Paturi (Steamed Asian Sea Bass) are some of the common ones. There is a wide range of veg recipes served at the hotels. Alu posto (Potato prepared with poppy seed paste), kumro phool bhaja (pumpkin fritters), cholar dal (Bengal gram), Shukto (a bitter and pungent stew of vegetables cooked in mustard oil) are some of the most popular ones. The menu, however, varies with the availability of the vegetables in the market due to weather and seasonal fluctuations. The food is many a time served in banana leaf, a tradition followed from ancient times in Bengal. Now cutleries of stainless steel are used in many hotels.
In the earlier days, floor mats were spread across the hotel floors. Customers used to sit on the mats and food was served by the staff. The mats have now been replaced by tables and chairs. But the banana leaf still continues. The meals are still affordable and offered at cheap rates. They are priced at approximately INR 200 or USD 2. The menu is handwritten on a blackboard and displayed right at the entrance of the hotels for the guests to pick and choose. Migrant and local workers still visit the hotels for their daily meals. Furthermore, tourists from international countries and other states of India, love visiting Pice hotels and enjoy the recipes.
Prominent Pice Hotels in Kolkata
Hotel Mahal – Situated at Ramnath Majumdar Street in Kolkata. It was started in 1917 by Sandeep Dutta. The building was once a boarding house for students arriving at the city to study at the premier academic colleges and universities. Nandala Dutta, the grandfather of Sandeep Dutta, had started the boarding house. It was eventually converted into a restaurant and is known as one of the popular Pice Hotels in Kolkata.
Hotel Sidheshwari Ashram – Situated at Kolkata's Sir Stuart Hogg Market or New Market as it is popularly known. Initially, it was a boarding house for migrant workers in the early 1900s. In 1936, the place was opened to others especially during lunch hours as a full-fledged restaurant. Both light and heavy menus were included in the servings. The hotel is now run and owned by Ms. Riya Sen, the fourth generation of owners. The specialty of the hotel is Kobhiraji jhol (fish curry with vegetables), and aam shol machch, (fish prepared with a curry of tangy mango and mustard).
Tarun Niketan Hotel – Situated at a silent corner of Rashbehari junction in South Kolkata. It is 106-year-old and is quite famous for its plethora of fish delicacies. To date, it serves 15 different fish recipes. The prominent among them are bhetki paturi, chitol kosha (clown knife fish curry), iIlish macher jhol (hilsa fish cooked in mustard gravy), and fish-egg fritters. The current owner is Arun Dev, running the hotel for the last 42 years.
And the Conclusion…
With urban modernization, improvisation in lifestyle, and rise in prices of vegetables, fish, etc., it is now tough for the Pice Hotels owners to maintain the low prices of the dishes. Yet the passion and vigor are still existing that motivate them to continue with the tradition and authentic ambiance and the food delicacies. The hotels still experience a goof influx of customers, savoring the luscious dishes.
Data Source Link: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20210608-the-indian-cafes-that-fed-a-revolution
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.
25 thoughts on “Pice Hotels – Pride of Kolkata in India”
Makes me hungry 😋 the food is so delicious.
I love the traditional way of serving food. The abundance of all those delicious food would definitely make anyone happy.
My partner absolutely loves Indian cuisine and I have grown to appreciate it as well. When we travel, we always take note of places where the locals go as you tend to find the real, authentic and value dishes that way. The Pice hotels have an amazing story and history that you have shared here and we would truly love to sample dishes from these hotels when we are next in the region. It should be seen as an enjoyable part of experiencing ‘incredible India’!
Love your kind words
This is so interesting
I would love to book a stay at that hotel! I am pretty sure the aroma of good food will lead me to find the place. I haven’t tried Bengali cuisine but I know I am going to love it.
Oh, that is so cool! I have never heard of pice hotels before. I would love to stay at one. I love their vibe.
This food looks so good! I’m getting hungry just reading this post.
All of that food looks so delicious. I love authentic Indian food.
You just transferred me to Kolkata with all the aromas and tastes of their authentic dishes. I would love to try them all!
These foods reminded me of the ones I had in Malaysia and it was all so good.
WOW! The food really looks good! I have never had Indian food but my husband loves it!
I’ll have to remember Pice hotels if I’m ever able to visit Kolkata! The food looks amazing, and it’s great that they make it affordable for budget travelers.
Interesting hotel, the history behind it and the food are something worth to learn and try. thank you for sharing!
WOW. SO much food and it all looks absolutely wonderful. I would love to try much of it.
wow! they have tempting varieties 🙂
Oh man that food looks really good!
I am a fan of that kind of food, but it’s a long way from Belgium
I had no idea about Pice Hotels, so thanks for sharing about it. I’ll visit Kolkata very soon, will surely check out these hotels.
I love, love, love Indian food. It is delicious! India is definitely on my bucket travel list and can’t wait to visit one day soon.
My husband would love to visit this place! The food looks incredible.
Nnniiiccceeeee…where I can see or smell fish, I go! Pice Hotels, it is! Thanks for sharing, Kuntala!
The food looks sooo delicious! It reminds me of family gatherings 🙂
I hope to visit it when I go back to India. I love Indian food a lot. Yum!
West Bengal Cuisine has been influenced by the Muslim rulers, the British rulers and the inhabitation of Jews, Afghans and Chinese. The Dutch and the French had established colonies in West Bengal as well and had a great impact on Bengal’s culinary habits.