I am a Delhi girl..Delhities know for ‘living to eat’; a place where people come from world over…TO EAT! But I went to Kolkata..for exactly the same reason! 🙂
Kolkata..the erstwhile capital of British India, the land of yellow taxis, where everyone has an opinion on the local politics, where people are CRAZY about football (and not cricket!), the land of durga puja, and bong beauties in red and white saris, where strikes take place at the drop of a hat, and where you can find something to eat (mostly chaat- indian fast food), at every nook and corner of any street (well I kinda feel the same about Mumbai too.. 🙂 ), and one of the only places in India, where you can still travel in the super slow, but super fun Trams!
If you want to see what India looked like during the British Raj, Kolkata is the place to go to. A lot of the architecture laid by the British is still maintained by the Kolkata authorities, hence you get to see a great blend of the past and the present, an old world charm along with the hustle and bustle of one of the biggest metros in India.
The best time to visit Kolkata is during the Durga Puja (generally around September), for the crazy 6 day long festivities in the air, and the b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l pandals (makeshift structures made to incorporate fairs, wherein locals gather to praise Lord Maa Durga, and eat and enjoy together). I however, had gone to meet my grandparents
Kolkata can be easily divided into two parts:
Part 1 is more like the Old Kolkata- with areas like Burra Bazaar,with a zillion people, bustling through open shops, which hardly have place for anyone except the shopkeeper to stand in. People here stay in joint families (with easily over 15-20 members per family..mine has 200 members, including all of my distant aunts and uncles staying under one roof!! :p )
Must eat at Burra Bazaar:
- Chaat..you’ll get some of the BEST chaat in Kolkata in Burra Bazaar
- Ghoogni chaat (made of boiled chick peas)
- Puchkas (the Kolkata version of Gol gappas/pani puri..and after 3 days of eating puckas EVERYWHERE you stop, you’ll easily be able to tell the difference between the Puchkas of Park Street v/s that of Burra Bazaar v/s that of Salt Lake :p )
- Churmur ( a concoction of different types of chips)
- Jhalmudi- a spicy chaat made of puffed rice
- The gud rasagullas!!! (mouth watering!!..no not the white ones..these ones are BROWN in colour..they are made out of jaggery and not sugar, hence less sweet and more tasty..Dont EVER buy packed rasagullas when in Kolkata..eat them fresh..cause the BEST thing about the fresh Kolkata rasagullas are that they simply melt in your mouth..you just don’t need to even chew them!)
- Mishti Doi- The fresh sweet curd (again…DO NOT have the packed version..eat it fresh!)
Part 2: This one is the more modern part of Kolkata, including Park Street, Slat Lake etc. Park Street is easily one of my favorite hang out places in Kolkata, especially at night. Some really great places to eat, including some really old and popular ones like Flurry’s & Moulin Rouge. I particularly loved the food and ambiance at Mocambo restaurant.
But there is more to Park Street than high end fine dining restaurants. It should be your choice of stay, as it is quite centrally located in Kolkata, with easy access to the metro and cabs. Also in and around park street, near wood street crossing, you’ll find some of the most amazing chaat, and with the local young crowd gathering here at night, the place has a lovely energetic vibe to it.
Must eat at Park Street:
- Breakfast at Flurry’s
- Doodh pepsi (Milk + Pepsi..ok, I know this sounds yuck, but you have to taste it to believe that its actually quite nice!) right next to the Gurudwara in Park Street
- The Kulfis near wood street crossing (try the various flavours..mango, orange, chikoo, sitaphal……. ok! so how many times will my mouth water while writing this post!! 😡 😉 )
- The local pan! (right in front of the people selling kulfi..can remember the name of the shop 😦 )
- Dinner at Mocambo
Another place wherein I loved for the chat was the Lake. There is a group of few chaat walaas near the Lake who are simply amazing, so much so, that despite is being a significant distance away, I actually went there a second time with an empty stomach ONLY to eat all the chaat all over again!!
There is so much more to write about this fascinating city..when I went there, I had never thought I’d write a post about Kolkata (hence apologies for not remembering the exact names of streets/places to eat at)..but I am going there again, this time to enjoy the city during its festive mood..during Durga Puja.. 🙂